Headlines: October 20th, 2008

A campaign has begun to tackle what the Training and Development Agency for Schools sees as the barriers to effective continuing professional development. It will be led by Tim Brighouse, the former London Schools Commissioner and one-time Director of Education at Birmingham City Council.

The campaign has opened with the launch of a national CPD database giving guidance on quality courses. The online database is the first of its kind in England and will provide information on professional development provision across the country, including intelligence on the type of CPD being offered nationwide to enable the TDA to see and respond to areas of demand and short supply.

A recent study by the Agency of CPD leaders underlined the urgent need to support schools in changing approaches to professional development. It found a large proportion of the leaders were not taking advantage of support available to them within their own schools, locally and nationally. The study also found that 41 per cent of schools never consulted a national organisation for help in CPD and just over a quarter never consulted universities or colleges about courses. Ten per cent did not network with other schools.

Tim Brighouse said that of all professions, school staff deserved and needed the best CPD. “After all what they do in schools underpins our society’s skills and future economic prosperity, indeed the core values of social justice and political freedoms,” he said. The campaign aims to encourage schools to review their strategies and to assist school leaders to understand how CPD can help to improve standards in schools. They will also be urged to appoint a CPD Leader to drive improvements on the ground. It also aims to challenge the perception of CPD being all about courses and will showcase other possibilities such as lesson observation, mentoring, networking and online self-study.