Fill Ya Boots! CPD Menus: A differentiated approach to in-house CPD.

This post was written by Paul Taylor @ticktock80. A note from OFSTED OFSTED-Logo ‘Teaching engages and includes all pupils, with work that is challenging enough and that meets their individual needs, including for the most able pupils’  Ofsted School Inspection Handbook Sept 2013 Wait a minute; I think I’ve just had an idea.  What if this read………………………. ‘CPD engages and includes all staff, with work that is challenging enough and that meets their individual needs, including for the most able staff’ If you are currently taking the time to read this blog you will have without doubt spent countless hours considering how to effectively differentiate for the students you teach.  You will have asked yourself; how do I challenge that kid (Ooops, I mean student), you know, the one who is frustratingly more intelligent than anyone you have ever met and makes you feel like you have the intellect and brain power of an Amoeba.  Or, how do I engage that student, the one who wouldn’t come to life in your lesson if he was plied with Red Bull and Pro Plus (other energy drinks and caffeine products are available!)  Every single one of you have faced these challenges, you have ‘bust a gut’ to deal with it, you have tried to be as inclusive as you can so that everyone gets the chance to flourish if they work hard in your lessons.  You are doing a great job! red-bull_2533775b So there it is; differentiation is king and ultimately it will see the ‘little folk’ we teach be the best they can be.  However, if differentiation is king for the little folk, should this be any different for the ‘big folk’ in the school?   The T&L group at Penistone Grammar School ALC are firmly of the belief that a differentiated approach to in-house CPD is the only approach to in-house CPD.  Penistone Grammar ALC is no different to any other school up and down the country (cue the teachers of Barnsley grimacing at that last remark).  OK, that’s not true we have a fair few more ‘affluent’ kids and they are ‘angels’ compared to some students we witnessed in the recent C4 programme “Educating Yorkshire”, but just like Thornhill Academy,  our most valuable asset and our biggest vehicle for development and change is our staff.  We have strength in depth and consequently we have the tools to provide inspirational and differentiated in-house CPD. With this in mind we try to treat our staff in the same way we treat our students.  We try to give them ‘what they want, when they want it’ and we try to make sure their development needs are met through the strategic analysis of T&L.  This ‘what they want, when they want it’ approach saw the birth of the ‘in-house CPD menu’. It was gimmicky, cheesy, it raised some eyebrows and I’m sure some people ‘slated’ it but it seems to be working and people are signing up for voluntary CPD as and when they need/want to, and that’s what we wanted when we first considered differentiated in-house CPD. The idea is simple: use Microsoft Publisher to create a fancy menu, speak with subject leaders, the T&L group, and classroom teachers to find out what staff want, cross reference this with quality assurance findings and formal appraisal lesson observations and create a few ‘dishes’ with the help of some inspirational and innovative teachers.  Run the menu over four calendared staff workshops one of which is a compulsory one (this hits the ‘hardcore’ staff who can’t be bothered with CPD, there are a few!) and every colleague will get as much or as little CPD as they want/need.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy! photo 1photo 2   photo 3 It’s also worth mentioning that through the use of @BlueSkyMatters,uk. (I would urge all school leaders of CPD/Performance Management/Appraisal to check this out) our menus are advertised to staff internally and when they sign up through Blue Sky the evidence of their attendance drops straight into their online CPD portfolio and staff receive notification of a new CPD activity that they have attended.  Everyone’s a winner! images Not the science of rockets is this, (Yoda was just on TV!) and I am certainly no expert in the field of CPD but I do know that this is what I would want from in-house CPD and I consider myself a normal teacher and a normal bloke! While I am the front man for the CPD Menu at Penistone Grammar School, it relies heavily on the inspiration from the T&L group, many of whom have their ears to the ground and know what staff want and how they want it.  It is also reliant on the detailed information provided for me from @PCrookPGSALC (Vice Principal at Penistone Grammar School ALC) around quality assurance and appraisal observations.  Without either of these inputs the menu would have just been a nice idea rather than a really valuable development process that is having significant impact on T&L.  The profile of T&L at Penistone Grammar School has accelerated quickly over the last 18 months and while this cannot be attributed solely to the CPD menu it is fair to say it has had significant impact in this acceleration, and I can say without hesitation that Penistone Grammar Schools ‘CPD engages and includes all staff, with work that is challenging enough and that meets their individual needs, including for the most able staff’ (Thanks again for the inspiration Ofsted!) As I have said, it is gimmicky, cheesy and will initially get ‘slated’ but let’s face it, your current in-house CPD is likely to be getting ‘slated’ right now so it may be time to try something new?!?!    


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