The One With the Knowledge

No, I’m not becoming a London taxi driver (or a pilot, but that’s another story!)

This week, OFSTED’s Head of Research Prof Daniel Muijs is reported to have offered his opinion that teachers should be “periodically” required to demonstrate their subject knowledge is up to date (read more here ) His comments have met with many criticisms (more amusingly those who ask how, for example, subject knowledge in more classical subjects such as Maths or Latin might have changed in the 10-30 years since a teacher qualified!)

Now, setting aside the problems this might create for Primary School teachers who teach all subjects within the National Curriculum, my concern is how one ensures all teachers have the opportunity to stay up to date. Within my own setting, there simply isn’t the funding to pay for subject-based CPD. What training staff do receive is what is required by law – safeguarding, fire safety, first aid, MAPA, GDPR, finance…. We’ve had two half days of teaching focused INSET – half a day on Growth Mindset (again, a theme for another day!) and half a day on using the bar method in Maths. These requirements came directly from our School Development Plan, not from individual performance reviews. As such, the content was not relevant for all staff.

What would I like to see? Funding for CPD issued on a per staff member basis, ring-fenced for staff to use for their own professional development, and all essential training funded from a different allocation of funding. So, if I wanted to use my CPD fund to spend time visiting other settings to find out how their KS1 operates, I could. And if my colleague wanted to use hers to access English CPD by attending a one day workshop run by a consultant, she could. If our Head chose to spend his allocation on a journal subscription, he could. Usage would have to be planned for in a staff member’s annual performance review, and evaluated at the end of the cycle. A sum of £1000 per teacher might cover 5 days of CPD when release time is taken into account. With some 500,000 teaching staff in the UK, that would require significant increases in the budget for schools.

I have recently begun the #CTeach programme with the Chartered College of Teaching, and have relished the chance to really own my development plan. No targets about pupil progress, no “whole school focus”. My plan is about me, as a professional, evaluating where I am and plotting a course to where I want to be deciding the route I’ll take and the opportunities that can see me safety through my journey.

My idea isn’t new, it’s been discussed a lot before. But if Muijs’ idea ever comes to fruition, it will have to be alongside a radical overhaul of CPD for teachers, and major funding increases too.

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