The current climate of schools tightening the purse strings means that decisions about which CPD courses to choose need to be taken wisely. This blog is not meant to be an advert for any of the wide variety of companies offering CPD courses. It is easy enough to tell whether a company is suited to your needs by doing a bit of simple research online.

The ‘Golden Age of CPD courses’ has long gone, unfortunately. Those that entered the classroom in the late 1990s/early 2000s came into a training-rich environment in education. Schools were awash with money and it seemed that considerable amounts were being spent on CPD.

Many teachers who developed their craft during this period will have attended a wide variety of training related CPD courses and experienced many development opportunities. Most of those teachers – if they are still in the classroom – will look back on that time with a certain fondness. They will see it as a time when their professionalism and careers were being invested in.

But times change.

Real terms cuts have affected CPD courses budgets

Regardless of what government tells us to the contrary, we all know that education has been severely affected by budget cuts since 2010. In real terms, funding has dropped considerably. The new funding formula only adds to this pretty desperate picture. The media continues to highlight examples of the reality facing schools. Just recently, it was reported that a primary school (ironically, in Theresa May’s own constituency) has begged parents for donations of toilet rolls.

So, as reality bites, some things (indeed, many things) have to give – and CPD courses are one of those things, unfortunately.

Schools are competing to get ‘bums on seats’ and struggling to find the qualified teachers to put in front of those bums on seats in the classroom. What’s more, they are engaged in the incessant quest to raise standards (especially in core subjects) and cope with the increased demands that curriculum and examination reform brings, at the same time.

The small matter of professional development for teachers has been moved a long way down the list of priorities. CPD courses budgets have been slashed in schools.

CPD courses need to be carefully chosen

Reviews, recommendations and referrals are always useful in determining whether training is right for an individual – or a department or whole-school. Yes, ‘in-school’ options are becoming more widely offered by training providers. As a way of giving more people from the same school access to a training opportunity, it’s understandable why they are popular.

Online webinars are also common. These are useful as a way of gathering key information about a topic, but as a training ‘experience’ this approach is fairly limited. Few would argue that this a better alternative to face-to-face training. However, it’s cheaper, is often provided outside of normal school hours – and in some cases, can be accessed at any time.

In-house CPD courses can be among the best there is

At the end of the day, CPD is not about the course you go on – whether it’s at an external venue or online. It’s about the development you get as a professional as a result. Therefore, some of the best CPD courses actually comes in-house. Being given time to work with colleagues in the same school on specific priorities is often the most useful CPD you can have.

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