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Continual Professional Development

Let’s just start with the fact I have always preferred the term Continual Professional Learning.  The term ‘development’ to me always conjured up the view of something missing which needed developing, which isnt necessarily the case, while the term “learning” fitted much better especially given being schools/colleges and also the increasing need for lifelong learning.  If teachers model this lifelong learning, I think it can be only a good things for the students.

Let’s next pick on the word, “continual”.  I think one of the challenges is that CPD or CPL is still largely confined to specific events or days in the academic calendar.  The inset day being the perfect example of this, that once a term event where everyone can get together and be developed (or learn).  Yet in the world of technology, and notice I drop the “ed” bit as a lot of the stuff we use is simply technology but used in an educational context despite not necessarily education specific, change happens in a far shorter term. Changes to functionality and new apps appear on a weekly and maybe even daily basis.  So maybe we need to start calling it TPD (termly professional development) or APD (annual professional development)?  Or maybe we need to use the technology and make it CPD or CPL.

Through technology we can easily create opportunities for professional learning to occur on an ad-hoc, on demand basis. We can create forums to discuss issues, challenges and successes, to share ideas and seek solution.  We can use video streaming solutions to create regular news style events highlighting ideas or solutions or using podcast solutions we can create radio style broadcasts which teachers can engage in while on a trip to do their weekly shop or while out for a run.  And there are plenty of examples of this having happened including AppShareLive, the CheckitOutShow and many others. In my own school we created an EdTech mutual support team for example.

There is still much more to do as this ongoing learning needs to become part of school culture and the way we do things.  For all the issues inset day has, it also has its value as an opportunity to stop, reflect and update, however it also, in my opinion, signals that this learning, or “training” is something which is provided to me.  The reality as things are now, is that equally this training is something all school staff, support staff as well as teachers, can seek out on their own.   There are plenty of resources but a Google search away, including programmes which also include micro-accreditation such as the Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator programmes to name but a few.


Maybe we need to review whether any, or many, schools and colleges, ever delivered the CPL they aspired to, outside the few individual staff who drove it themselves.  Generally, it simply wasn’t continual.  So going forward we need to make it continual which requires both parties, the individual and the school to play their part.  The school/college needs to make the opportunities available, in time but also in encouraging the use of technology to facilitate these opportunities, while the members of staff need to search and explore what is there, and continually seek to learn.   A lot of this happened over the pandemic, however can we continue and also grow this where the extrinsic motivation factor, the pandemic, is no longer in play?  In my opinion I think we have little choice if we are to continually improve.

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The author

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. In addition Gary is a Google and Microsoft Certified Educator, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and an Apple Teacher plus holds CISSP, CISA and CRISC certifications.

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