Professional learning communities: Enhancing CPD in schools

Keren Prior

Keren Prior is a qualified secondary school teacher and head of the team at EES for Schools that provides training and development opportunities for the whole of the school workforce. The work of the team covers the whole remit from recruitment support for schools, initial teacher training and early professional development opportunities all the way through to leadership and governor development.

Follow @EESforSchools

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The main priority of a school is to ensure that pupils are given the best possible chance of achieving their potential, both academically and personally. In the ever-changing world of education, it is imperative that teachers and other staff are as up-to-date as they can possibly be in their subject knowledge, teaching practices, and assessment requirements. It also important not to forget the professional development needs of the wider school community, including your governors.

Therefore, providing access to courses and opportunities to all members of the school workforce means the whole school is operating as a learning community, with teachers focusing not only on the learning of their pupils, but on their own personal development too.

Providing all staff with regular CPD opportunities, relating to the latest developments in education, is a step in the right direction when it comes to retaining staff. It shows them that they’re a valued member of the team and that they work as a part of a professional learning community, and that their continual improvement is a prerogative. But with so many different options available, schools need to be sure that they’ve chosen the most effective CPD opportunities.

A wealth of potential

A school’s approach to CPD depends both on the staff you have and on the school’s development plan CPD. It should not solely be led by external influencers, so creating a thorough long-term CPD strategy and having a funded plan linked to this strategy is crucial for achieving successful outcomes.

Good CPD is always collaborative and evidence-led, so one of the simplest ways to carry out CPD is to encourage your teachers and class-based staff to share and discuss their own practice. It should be focused on developing knowledge of subjects and how pupils learn them, and should empower teachers to be inventive and innovative with their teaching methods, while also holding them accountable for their provision. Peer observation and regular discussions enable teachers to share their teaching methods and areas where they are interested in learning more in order to develop further.

Formal courses, both online and in person,"Good CPD shows them that they’re a valued member of the team." can sometimes be costly and ineffective if not properly researched, in terms of content and also intended impact back in school. However, formal courses offer access to a wealth of professional knowledge and provide a great opportunity to talk and network with other teachers, or members of the school workforce, so including access to these where they are identified as the right CPD option should be part of the overall CPD plan.

Social media has created a wealth of potential CPD support opportunities for teachers, with online forums and sharing sites becoming more and more common. This is an effective approach to CPD that enables teachers to ask questions and receive responses quickly, and gives them an"Social media offers an effective approach to CPD." unlimited archive of teaching ideas. Schools should look out for the latest online communities, forums and twitter chats and inform their staff about the opportunities available online. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital and where everything moves at a dizzyingly fast pace, social media enables teachers to instantly keep up-to-date with the latest methods and approaches.

A significant impact

There is no denying the importance of CPD, but the impact of it should be systematically tracked, with a clear focus on the impact on pupil’s learning, to ensure that any development activity is meeting the needs of both pupils and staff. A long-term approach to CPD is favoured over a short-term implementation of ideas, as it gives teachers the time and space to embed developments effectively into their practice whilst also enabling them to continuously monitor and measure the impact, in order to keep improving and developing further.

During a period of significant change in the education system, having a CPD plan in place that recognises the importance of CPD and implements regular opportunities for teachers, and other staff to develop ensures that schools remain buoyant and prepared, staff are recognised as valuable assets to the school, and the needs of the pupils remain a priority.


How do you handle CPD in your schools? Let us know below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"