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Training sights on improved CPD

Sam Warnes, former teacher and EDLounge founder, explores how online courses can help ensure teachers make the most of their professional development

Posted by Julian Owen | June 19, 2018 | Teaching

With teachers facing increasing workloads and time pressures, attending continuing professional development (CPD) courses often falls to the bottom of the priority list. It can be difficult to know how to incorporate training into busy timetables, but what might be putting teachers off even more - suggests research by the Teacher Development Trust - is the fact that the most common form of training often involves watching a PowerPoint.

All sectors acknowledge that, in order for their employees to get the best results, they need to stay up to date with the latest trends and research in their field and have the opportunity to develop themselves in order to take on more complex roles. However, education is one of the few sectors that doesn’t seem to prioritise this enough.

While schools provide an average of five inset days per year, these are often used to catch up on administrative tasks. With the workforce stretched, and areas like high-stakes testing taking up much more of a typical workday, CPD tends to be left to individual teachers to arrange.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, including the fact that teachers have to arrange for cover if they attend training during the week. The solution to this is weekend courses, which have become more prevalent. But the cost of these, combined with the need for many to arrange for childcare, makes this a less than ideal alternative. There has been a push recently for more teacher CPD courses during the week, and this month it was announced that in July 2020 there will be a ‘National Teacher Learning Day’. But this is fraught with the same potential difficulties of any set training course; namely that people may miss it.

Thankfully, given the technological age that we live in, there is an option for CPD that allows teachers to expand their knowledge on a topic without leaving their desk (or house, or wherever they choose to do it), and that it is not time limited.

Online and virtual CPD has the advantage of being significantly cheaper than a training session that requires a trainer to be brought in, lunch to be provided, and materials to be purchased. ‘Great’, I can hear you thinking, ‘another slide show to click through.’ But online courses have expanded far beyond the typical lecture approach!

With schools able to use platforms to develop their own CPD, many provide scenario-based learning that is specific to the organisation or role. Additionally, there are opportunities for individuals to check their understanding with quizzes at the end of sections, and detailed explanations of correct answers. This ability to go at your own pace makes it more likely that the content of the virtual lessons will be better retained than in crowded in-person training sessions.

Sam Warnes

Similarly, discussion forums have become prevalent. These allow teachers from different schools and regions to share how they implement various practices or discuss alternative ways to achieve goals. These forums are often moderated by a course leader and so, regardless of the time that teachers undergo the training, answers are constantly refreshed.

A final nail in the coffin for traditional CPD courses is that online courses are always available. This means that trainees are able to take them whenever it suits their schedule, and they can refer back to the full course and materials whenever necessary. Forget about those training packs that get lost in a notebook or buried in your inbox; when individuals or schools select a provider that is able to offer a wide range of courses, you can access all courses on the same page.

With teachers everywhere embracing technology to improve the lessons they give their students, it is about time that they make the commitment to the same quality of learning for themselves.

For more information, please visit the EDLounge website:


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