From education to employment

Is it time to change our approach towards CPD?

Jane Hyde-Walsh, Founder and Director of the Staffroom

In the ever changing world of FE and work based learning and as the role of the assessor changes significantly in the current climate of apprenticeship reforms and delivery of the new trailblazer standards the importance of keeping up to date with knowledge, skills and competence is more important than ever. So now is as good a time as any to take stock of your skills set and think about how you can demonstrate up to date competence and your continuous professional development. 

So where should you start? A good definition of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is that it is the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply and it should have an impact on your performance. 

However, the reality is that the majority of us don’t adopt this sort of approach towards our CPD.  Invariably what many of us are doing is just keeping a list of the events or activities we undertake in order to demonstrate that we’ve undertaken some CPD so it can be pulled out in time for an annual appraisal or Ofsted inspection. 

This however is not effective CPD and moreover research demonstrates that most professional development is driven by external factors such as changes in regulations or inspections rather than individual need and all too often individuals are not in the driving seat in terms of taking responsibility for and guiding their own CPD.   

So if you recognise yourself and your approach towards CPD here then perhaps it’s time to prioritise your personal development needs for yourself and re-evaluate your approach and start to develop some good habits towards developing yourself?  That way you can demonstrate your knowledge, currency and competence and be ready to deal with the delivery and assessment challenges ahead?    

What are the key features of the CPD process?

To justify the name, CPD needs to:

• be a documented process

• be self-directed: driven by you, not your employer

• focus on learning from experience, reflective learning and review

• help you set development goals and objectives

• include both formal and informal learning.

How can you start to improve your approach towards CPD?

Firstly acknowledge that your current practice is flawed, take a deep breath and open a new page on where you are right how and what you want to achieve.  If you want to test yourself try taking the CPD Challenge on the Staffroom website to see how effective your current approach is towards your CPD. 

Bench mark your starting point

You should start your development journey by completing a thorough self-assessment process. To do this you can involve various elements such as:

  • A personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • Reviewing your job role or description and seeing where there might be some gaps 
  • 360 degree feedback – don’t be afraid to ask for input from colleagues, team members and your students
  • Formal self-assessments
  • Current Appraisal
  • Individual performance goals
  • Evaluation of your own delivery

Planning and Prioritisation

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the areas you need to develop you can start to prioritise your immediate development goals and set yourself some targets.

Think about what you can achieve easily such as simply reading up on the latest version of a regulation or piece of legislation.

Ask your manager and colleagues about their development goals and find out if there are some universal needs and how could these be fulfilled? 

Are there elements where you could be mentored from within your organisation and share good practice? 

Can you build better evaluation processes into your delivery so that you are constantly getting feedback on your performance and incorporate this feedback into your improvement plan?

Start to plan your actions

Make your plan but be realistic and then stick to it.  Try hard not to get diverted by either your organisation or other external influences but stay flexible in terms of areas of improvements as jobs can change very quickly sometimes and it’s important to respond to them. 

Start to find a trusted source of articles and materials that inform your area of development and build your own CPD library. 

Set yourself achievable goals and objectives and start to plan the time you’re need to accomplish your goals amidst all your other obligations.

Make sure you plan time to evaluate and reflect on all your activities so that you can start to develop a truly meaningful approach towards your professional development.

And most importantly enjoy yourself, share what you’ve learnt and use it to enhance your performance and then evaluate how it’s improved.

Jane Hyde-Walsh, Founder and Director of the Staffroom

About the StaffroomA website dedicated to supporting members with their continuous professional development.  They provide useful self-assessment tools, a large library of articles and resources covering all aspects of the education sector plus other services including a bookshop, recommended CPD events and an insurance offer. Use articles and resources to earn points towards your CPD.  

If you want to see how effective your approach is towards your CPD please take the CPD Challenge and see how quickly you could improve.  


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