Blog: When CPD is brilliant there are a plethora of positives

When CPD is brilliant there are a plethora of positives, some measurable and some less easy to quantify. But generally great CPD leads to improved teacher morale, better outcomes for students and improved Ofsted grade. Crucially in this time of teacher shortages it also leads to a stronger professional profile for the school and therefore better retention and recruitment of the best staff. When schools invest in their staff this clearly improves ethos and culture because the whole school community feels valued and ultimately this impacts on the wellbeing of staff and students.

When the CPD comes through a Teaching School or a Math’s Hub then you have the added benefit of real school to school collaboration and a two way partnership. Schools in a Teaching School Alliance (TSA) not only receive CPD and support but also give back too, it’s reciprocal.  Schools are just ‘better together’ and I’m not biased at all…..

We are very lucky to have a SCITT (School Centered Initial Teacher Training) at the Alliance for Learning so we are really conscious that the CPD journey is an important and life long one. From the moment a trainee teacher starts with us we talk to them about their ‘pathway’. Clearly there is no single pathway and staying in the classroom and ‘getting better’ is as equally important (and some would say more so) as progressing to Leadership. I have recently been asked to share the ‘Teacher Pathway’ document we use in our trust (Bright Futures Educational Trust) and our teaching school and it can be found here:


It will never been the finished article because the needs of children, staff, schools and of course context is ever changing but I hope you find it useful.

Over the past 20 years, I have honed my own teaching style and then gone on to grow and evolve as a leader. I continue to love to learn.  I’m passionate about my own learning and those of others. Recently, I was asked by some trainees about the best CPD I’ve ever had and I found it so hard to choose – for all the right reasons!  In terms of teaching I absolutely loved the Kagan training I did several years ago. But a light bulb moment for me was some training I attended years ago about “attachment and brain development” in children who had experienced early trauma. When I understood what this meant for me in the classroom and as a pastoral leader, it was so enlightening.

In terms of ‘leadership’ I thoroughly enjoyed completing the NPQH several years ago and it really did further develop my understanding of leadership theory. But possibly more importantly I developed a network of leaders in other schools and kept in touch with them. I believe that networks are incredibly important.  I can recommend an excellent book I read recently about this very topic called ‘Who is in your Personal Boardroom’ by Zella King & Amanda Scott – @myBoardroom . People often say that leaders are only as good as the people they surround themselves with. Do we think enough about that when we are creating our own unique networks that help us grow and flourish? Reading is an essential part of CPD and I’m enjoying ‘Hopeful Schools’ by @MaryMyatt at the moment.

As far as personal career development goes, I believe having a really good coach is crucial. At @BrightFuturesET we have embedded a three tiered coaching model which is really empowering. If you are a woman and are thinking about accessing a coach or becoming one do have a look at this free opportunity : @WomenEd is also a really supportive place to access ongoing support and advice whether you are male or female.

Finally, I have to mention Mental Health First Aid – which I believe should be an essential part of teacher training and indeed is at our SCITT. The feedback we have had for this course has been overwhelmingly positive and when we have delivered with clusters of schools working together as I have done recently in Warrington, the impact has doubled. It is part of our wider wellbeing offer:

I believe all teachers – young, mature, established or brand new – should be given the time to continue to learn new skills, new theories, new ways of thinking, share good practice and to read. CPD is not just ‘a course’ it is an ongoing diet- a journey. This is why I created the ‘pathway’ which makes it clear that we all have a responsibility for our own ongoing development too and CPD isn’t something simply ‘done to us’. Of course these kinds of ‘pathway’ diagrams have existed long before mine. I was inspired by something similar a long time ago which I have tried to emulate. If you have something similar or better please do share!

One think I haven’t talked about is the importance of a research based approach to CPD and being able to evidence impact. Whilst this is absolutely essential it is also a whole other blog so I’ll come back to that.

Like all teachers and leaders my ‘to do’ list never gets finished and I always have something else to do. But as I’ve said before in a previous blog, if you love your job then it feels less like work and more like fun! School to school support is also CPD, receiving SLE support or indeed being an SLE ( Specialist Leader of Education) is one of the greatest privileges ever and if you don’t know what an SLE is find out! Additionally, teacher to teacher CPD events like a Teachmeet are brilliant for all involved. Our next teachmeet is on the theme of Wellbeing at Wellacre Academy on 3rd July:

Save the Date - Wellacre Teachmeet 2017

I do believe that twitter has changed CPD for the better and I still can’t believe how many teachers and leaders are not on here! If you know a teacher not on twitter do send them this great guide:

If you would like to talk to me about our teaching school CPD offer which includes bespoke training too please do contact me @lisafathersAFL


Lisa Fathers

Head of Teaching School / Bright Futures Educational Trust Co-Principal


Alliance for Learning
Cavendish Road, Bowdon
Altrincham WA14 2NL
Proud to part of the Bright Futures Education Trust