I am very aware that the first priority for all school staff is to look after their health and wellbeing and to ensure that their students are also safe and well. In addition to this teachers have embraced technology to teach, support and monitor daily lessons and activities to try and keep teaching and learning as effective as possible during these challenging times.
We have been given some indication about when and how schools will open but there are an awful lot of ifs, buts and maybes before we actually see our schools back to normal.
In the meantime and maybe as daily routines may become a little easier this would be an excellent time to undertake some professional development. When schools are fully functioning one of the things that causes me concern is the lack of time for CPD that someone really wants and needs. Much CPD in school is based on statutory directives (safeguarding) or specific school issues (curriculum development) all really important but not personalised to individual members of staff.
Over the last few weeks I have noticed the increase in SENCOs asking for information about CPD courses and training that they could recommend to their teachers and support staff during the challenging situation that COVID-19 has put us in.
SEND CPD is often right at the bottom of school priorities when it comes to the five training days that schools have and yet “Teachers are responsible and accountable for the progress and development the pupils in their class, including where pupils access support from teaching assistants or specialist staff” – Para. 6.36 – SEND Code of Practice 2015. Even now five years after this Code was published we have teachers and teaching assistants with limited knowledge of how to support pupils with significant needs. This can only be addressed by continuing professional development for the whole workforce.
As someone who makes their living from providing training this enforced change in the way we work has made me think about the future of CPD. I still believe that at the core of good CPD is the networking opportunity that occurs when you bring likeminded, passionate people together but I can also see great benefits from being able to capture so much information in a one hour webinar that I can then watch at a later date and keep should I need to refer back to it in the future.
The current crisis has brought out the very best in people especially those working within the education sector. Staff have embraced technology on a number of levels including teaching, 0n-line learning, for daily briefings from head teachers, for catching up with families, for carrying out annual reviews and for taking part in professional development sessions.
There has been a great deal of really good CPD made available and much of it currently is free. People have been sharing links and sites on social media to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to access training and develop their knowledge and skills. I have taken part in webinars in the last week that have attracted hundreds of participants. This could be the new way of working in the future.
Click Here to access a list of SEND CPD that I have come across over the last few weeks and hopefully you will be able to pass some of the links onto your colleagues. If anyone has found any other CPD opportunities let me know and I will add to my list.