Nobody said teaching was going to be easy. But far too many good teachers are voting with their feet and walking away from their careers. According to Government figures, more than a fifth of new teachers leave the profession within their first two years of teaching, and around a third leave within their first five years.
Some of these teachers may have stayed in the profession and felt more supported, confident and positive in their roles if only they there had been good professional development in place for them.
So how can schools provide good quality CPD and boost the wellbeing of their teachers?
- Take a whole school approach
Research by Ofsted into teacher wellbeing found that teachers are happier working in a culture of collaboration with a strong sense of teamwork. It’s certainly more rewarding to be part of a school where everyone’s pulling together to reach the same goal.
This sense of togetherness can be strengthened with focused CPD informed by performance management and your school improvement plan.
Start by identifying any gaps in the performance of your school or MAT, and use these to inform your CPD priorities, whether that’s a drop in reading attainment, or concerns about pupils’ online safety. Teachers need to be encouraged to work together so that they can share in the satisfaction of seeing the positive results.
Effective whole school professional development not only improves pupil outcomes, it reminds teachers that they have the most significant impact on pupils and are the bedrock of a great school.
- Know each teacher’s starting point
As any good teacher knows, each pupil in the classroom has different skills, abilities and strengths. The same goes for teachers, so it’s important to identify where your teachers are in their career and give them what they need to improve their practice.
An NQT may be bang up to date with curriculum knowledge but lack behaviour management skills, while a teacher who is further along in their career might benefit from training in interactive classroom tools.
A lot is expected of primary school teachers, and the level and breadth of knowledge they have to teach is astounding. For example, computer programming has become an important part of the new primary curriculum, but how many primary teachers are confident coders?
The advent of the Ofsted deep dive has reinforced the need for teachers to develop their subject knowledge and related pedagogy. So take a close look at which training would help your teachers with their subject areas as well as their teaching skills.
With tailored CPD, teachers feel much more confident in their roles.
- Build a CPD strategy for your school
CPD is about more than sending someone on a course. Senior leaders need to think strategically and create a CPD plan designed to have a sustainable impact on outcomes for pupils.
To do this, you need to know your school. A high performing school might spend more time on research driven teaching techniques, while a school requiring improvement may need focus on the basics, for example compliance or curriculum-planning.
That said, there should always be an element of flexibility in your CPD programme. As anyone who works in a school knows, things can change in a heartbeat, and your teachers need to be able to respond to these changes.
The arrival of a new pupil who doesn’t speak English might prompt some professional development in EAL teaching, and admitting a child who has moved schools several times could call for training in emotional support.
Knowing their school is investing in their career and equipping them to handle new challenges is a key factor in teachers’ job satisfaction.
Most teachers enter the profession to change lives for the better, and want to feel valued, particularly in the face of workload pressures, public scrutiny and the daily challenge of giving their children the chances they deserve.
Teaching will always be a demanding job, but good CPD can ensure teachers are supported to do that job well throughout a long and satisfying career.