Is CPD for me?

Stephen Kay looks back at a year of CPD and wonders what it all means.

Technological Education Teacher, St Andrew's Academy, North Ayrshire

CPD. Completely Pointless Discussions? Corporal Punishment for Disobedience? Well not quite! 

You've just finished years of study and research and now apart from a full time job (OK, it's 70% of a full timetable but to start with we were so disorganised it feels like we don't stop) it's suggested that you might want to apply for CPD, or Continuing Professional Development.

Well, that's OK then. But what does it all involve?

Starting out

You have a probationary post and managed to get to your new school without getting lost or being late. You've met the boss (your Principal Teacher or PT) and his boss (the SMT) and if you're really unlucky (sorry lucky) the Big Boss (the Headteacher or HT).

They all seem very nice, smiling as they hand you your timetable, explaining their expectations of you and how they're sure you'll fit right in.

All so reassuring, your days are full of totally normal and understandable initial panic and fear. How will you get on with the Fourth Year? What can you do with the First Year? Why are Second Year so horrible? Is it because you're new or just because they are Second Years?

Then just to make things even more intense, a nice lady (well, it was in my case) starts discussing CPD. Luckily the Education Authority will help, running classes after school and on weekends so you don't need to miss out on your teaching.

I wonder if I'm supposed to be grateful for this, and make a mental note in my teacher planner to be reflective on this in the future, preferably after the nice lady in the authority has rubber stamped my suitability on my GTC Final Profile.

New techniques

Humour aside, CPD is an important part of your ongoing teaching career. It brings forward new techniques to get you up to speed on the latest structures put in place to support:

  • pupil development
  • motivation
  • learning and assessment
  • gender teaching approaches

My favourite had to be "How to be heard without shouting": learning how to sing and develop a way of projecting your voice without hurting. It was a new one on me, but the breathing exercises certainly help. I can now be heard all the way to the third floor.

Finding opportunities

CPD opportunities can be obtained through your education authority or local school organised courses. They can include:

  • personal reading
  • online research
  • in-service training
  • support within your department

Recording your CPD

Everything you do outwith your in-class teaching can have an influence on your CPD and as such should be recorded meticulously to add to your interim and final profiles.

Everything you do outwith your in-class teaching can have an influence on your CPD.

Trust me when I say keep this updated on a daily basis. It is the only way to remember and the more evidence you have of your personal development, the more employable you become.

Is it worth it?

Officially you should do 35 hours CPD a year, but during your first year you could easily do double this without even noticing.

You might moan about it, everyone does at some point, usually after the second year, last period on a Friday. But you'll also enjoy it and you never know you might just learn a little gem of an idea that suddenly makes the horrible Second Years seem like little angels.

Well, we all live in hope.