CPD for teachers

All UK teachers are required to undergo 30 hours of professional development per year, with some teachers suggesting the value of establishing a National Teaching Institute to ensure high-quality, regulated continuing professional development and training within the industry.

Undeniably, CPD in education is important. Surveys conducted by Manchester Metropolitan University revealed that many teachers thought ‘CPD had directly enhanced their promotion prospects’. Even more sceptical respondents acknowledged the value of accredited CPD courses to current and potential employers.

What is CPD for teachers?

In a profession that focuses on learning and knowledge, it is all too important for teachers to set aside time for continuing professional development – CPD.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) section of the UK National Education Union states that CPD for teachers can incorporate:

  1. Training courses and workshops
  2. Studying for a qualification or accreditation
  3. Online courses/webinars/podcasts
  4. Observation and shadowing
  5. Mentoring
  6. Peer group exchanges
  7. Attending exhibitions and conferences
  8. International exchanges
  9. Self-reflection, personal reading or research

There is also a high degree of choice available regarding professional development, enabling teachers to tailor their CPD to areas in which they feel they need to improve, areas suggested by fellow staff members or areas of general interest.

Curiously in a sector where knowledge, learning and development is of paramount significance, the value of CPD in education has been the source of much controversy.

It is widely recognised that undertaking beneficial CPD for teachers is easier said than done, because long days dedicated to your pupils’ development can mean that it can be difficult to make time for your own.

The same survey by Manchester Metropolitan University revealed that many teachers find CPD to have a negative effect on their work, as it simply represents ‘more plates to juggle’ instead of an opportunity to benefit their career.

Some teachers also described the effect of CPD on their self-confidence as ‘negative’. Only 24% said that CPD had had a ‘very significant impact’ on their professional development.

Bearing this in mind, it is vital to secure CPD that will have a positive impact on your teaching practice, career goals and emotional well-being.

CPD for teachers: which course is right for you?

CPD courses for teachers are relevant to a wide variety of areas in education, including:

  1. Subject knowledge enhancement
  2. Mental health support in the classroom
  3. Revision strategy training
  4. Leadership skills
  5. Effective teaching assistant use
  6. Subject leader training
  7. Behavioural management
  8. Time management
  9. Coaching and motivational skills

Online courses, discussion groups and webinars are also available for those whose ability to travel is restricted.

If you are considering a particular course, first check that it is accredited by the UK Continuing Professional Development Service (CPDUK) in order to ensure that the CPD you receive is of the highest possible quality.

Not all CPD need be external. A survey undertaken by IRIS Connect of over 250 teachers indicates that four times as many teachers prefer in-situ classroom-based CPD to external courses.

The same poll also shows that 85% of teachers value teachers sharing best practice is a valuable learning strategy. With this in mind, organising lesson shadowing is a simple, cost-efficient and highly effective internal means of professional development.

The Guardian describes CPD as ‘a gloomy picture in most schools’, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Teachers committed to ongoing self-development who source CPD courses wisely will find the process enjoyable and rewarding.

How to become a headteacher

How to become a headteacher in the UK

Attaining the prestigious position of headteacher is one of the most rewarding moments of a teacher’s career and often represents the culmination of years, if not decades, of teaching.

A headteacher’s day to day role includes such responsibilities as:

  1. Conducting any leadership and management necessary in order to keep your school running smoothly
  2. Controlling the school’s finances and planning budget
  3. Monitoring the progress of pupils and teachers
  4. Creating a positive work environment with academic motivation, pastoral support, and sufficient discipline

Is there a headteacher qualification?

The UK’s most significant formal headteacher qualification, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), was declared non-mandatory in 2012. At the current time, the only formal certification a headteacher needs is their qualified teacher status (QTS).

Since the NPQH became non-mandatory, the training necessary for the role of headteacher has by necessity become much more flexible and tailored to the individual.

The most formal current headteacher ‘qualification’ is simply experience. The majority of headteachers are deputy heads of several years’ standing.

Ascending to the position of headteacher in a school in which you have previously worked as deputy gives you invaluable experience. As the role of deputy head involves mediating between the staff and the headteacher, you will already understand the inner workings of your school.

If you are entering a school for the first time in the position of headteacher however, you will have no understanding of the specificities of the environment. In this case, on-the-job training and preparation are essential.

What does a headteacher do to train for the role?

Despite no longer being a prerequisite, the NPQH still has value and has been described by headteacher Nichola Smith as ‘beneficial in partnership with other training’. Nevertheless it can be hard for budding headteachers to know how to prepare for the role.

James Toop, chief executive of Ambition School Leadership (ASL), discusses a recent survey in which almost 40% of headteachers described shadowing their former boss as a key form of training. He describes ‘mentoring from an experienced head, placements and job shadowing… (as)… great accelerators’.

Indeed, shadowing on the whole is highly advisable in a teaching environment. A headteacher to be must have a good repository of knowledge regarding all areas of their school and once hired they can use the time prior to taking over the role in order to familiarise themselves with its everyday workings.

Jill Berry, a headteacher of ten years’ standing, advises future headteachers to maximise the opportunities afforded by a long transition period in order to gain valuable experience that will prove beneficial in the role.

Another vital skill for headteachers is a good understanding of finance. In modern-day education in which school budgets are increasingly restricted, it is vital that a headteacher knows how to manage the school’s finances

However, it it must be acknowledged that there are aspects of the role, such as passion and vision, for which an aspiring headteacher cannot train. If you possess these innate qualities, you are already well on your way to becoming a successful headteacher.


What makes an outstanding lesson?

How does OFSTED define an outstanding lesson?

OFSTED defines an outstanding lesson as one in which pupils are:

  1. Inspired, engaged and motivated
  2. Challenged
  3. Making progress
  4. Keen to contribute to the lesson, asking relevant questions and debating the topic with enthusiasm
  5. Interacting productively with each other as well as the teacher
  6. Able to explain what they are doing and why
  7. Proud of their achievements during the lesson

The OFSTED definition also states, in an outstanding lesson, teachers will be:

  1. Experts in their subject
  2. Involving every one of their students in the learning process
  3. Setting imaginative tasks that challenge and inspire pupils
  4. Utilising a wide range of approaches and learning resources in order to target different pupils with different abilities and learning styles
  5. Facilitating independent learning and pupil evaluation
  6. Checking progress towards objectives in a non-disruptive way

In order to be classed as outstanding, teachers also have to comply with guidelines such as:

  1. Recapping the previous lesson at the start
  2. Providing clear lesson objectives which are revisited and revised during the lesson
  3. Explaining information clearly using appropriate language
  4. Providing feedback on the progress of their pupils

Enthusiasm is outstanding

Any OFSTED inspector will tell you that there is no exact recipe for an outstanding lesson; they simply know one when they see it. The one vital ingredient is enthusiasm – from both from pupils and from teachers – whose body language speaks volumes about how engaged they are.

Chief inspector of OFSTED Amanda Spielman has spoken out against the single-minded focus on exam results at the expense of a rounded, enjoyable education. An outstanding lesson is no longer measured by academic success only, but by the engagement of its pupils. As a result many teachers are turning from the traditional classroom methods in favour of more progressive learning methods, such as flipped lessons.

What is a flipped lesson?

A flipped lesson mimics the university learning model, in which students learn about a topic (by means of reading, online lectures or other research) prior to a class. The lesson itself takes the form of a collaborative discussion and/or activity learning, promoting a personalised learner-centred instruction model.

Flipped lessons are by no means the only method by which a teacher can create a engaged and enthusiastic classroom environment, but the success of the flipped classroom illustrates the need to combine a variety of teaching methods, beyond the classic lesson model. Prioritise your pupils’ passion for the subject equally with results and think outside the box for an outstanding OFSTED result.

How can I make my lessons OFSTED-friendly?

Establishing tasks that fulfil OFSTED’s objectives for an outstanding lesson and rehearsing them with your class is a good way to create a dynamic learning environment without needing to take risks during the inspection itself.

Getting your classes used to high risk tasks so that they become routine will go a long way towards reducing OFSTED stress as you have prepared everything beforehand.

Easy ways to incorporate OFSTED objectives into your classroom routine include:

  1. Standing at the door as your pupils enter the classroom, greeting each one and talking briefly about your objectives for the day. Don’t wait for your whole class to come in and settle down. Start preparing each pupil for learning as soon as they arrive
  2. Showing that children leave your class with questions and ideas. During the lesson, ask your pupils to write any questions or ideas you want them to take away on stickers and as they leave, take the stickers with them
  3. Standing at the door at the end of a lesson and asking each pupil to relate something they learned and how it corresponds to one of the lesson objectives before bidding them goodbye.


What makes an effective teacher?

How does OFSTED define an effective teacher?

OFSTED defines an outstanding teacher as one who:

  1. Possesses a thorough and expert knowledge of their subject
  2. Uses their expertise to answer pupils’ questions in a way that will maximise their learning and increase their classroom participation
  3. Uses their creativity and innovation to set imaginative tasks in order to inspire their pupils as well as advancing their knowledge
  4. Selects and combines appropriate resources (including teaching assistants) and activities
  5. Makes sure that all of their pupils are involved and progressing, regardless of their talents, abilities and learning styles
  6. Balances the need for didactic teaching with the need to facilitate pupil interaction and independent learning for a well-rounded teaching approach
  7. Is capable of meticulously checking pupils’ understanding and progress towards objectives during class in a non-disruptive way
  8. Provides pupils with clear, specific and insightful guidance on achieving their academic goals
  9. Sets homework that is relevant and builds upon the work already covered in class or sets the stage for the next lesson

An outstanding teacher creates a classroom environment that is:

  1. Conducive to learning – both stimulating and challenging
  2. Conducive to respect, courtesy and harmonious interactions between pupils, teachers and fellow pupils
  3. Laid out in a manner designed to aid learning, for example in a semicircle if the class revolves around debate, or with pupils facing forwards if the lesson is lecture-based
  4. Well-presented and uncluttered in terms of both structure and decoration

What are the attributes of an effective teacher?

Personal qualities of an effective teacher include:

  1. Empathy – you must empathise with your pupils’ attitudes and learning styles in order to teach effectively
  2. Ambition – drive is a vital part of being a teacher. If teaching is not truly your vocation, your success as a teacher may will be limited
  3. Patience – to remain calm and patient while teaching will help you to provide effective discipline and classroom management
  4. Energy – this is a role that involves hard work and most teachers often work over and above the hours they are paid for
  5. Passion – your passion will communicate itself to the students and create the engaging environment you want

How do I become a more effective teacher?

You can use techniques both inside and outside the classroom to ensure you are the most effective you can be in the classroom:

In the classroom, ensure that your body language and tone of voice are not undermining your teaching methods. The best lesson plan in the world will not get pupils enthused and working hard if you’re not.


  1. Keeping your face and body animated
  2. Smiling
  3. Speaking clearly and brightly
  4. Maintaining a good posture with head high, your back straight and your arms uncrossed
  5. Moving around the classroom during the lesson, rather than standing or sitting in one place throughout

Outside the classroom, seize opportunities for professional development. Not only will CPD courses whet your appetite for your role, they will make you more effective in it.

With the pressures of classroom management and OFSTED inspections it can be all too easy to forget that your career is about learning – yours as well as your students’.

Ensure that you’re maintaining a good work-life balance. Working hard is important, but it’s just as important to carve out some time for yourself and enjoy your life outside work. If you are constantly stressed and running yourself into the ground, inevitably your lessons – and ultimately your pupils – will suffer as a result.

What is OFSTED? | Educational Standards

What does OFSTED stand for?

OFSTED stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

What are the main responsibilities of OFSTED?

OFSTED is responsible for:

  1. The inspection and regulation of educational institutions including independent schools, state schools, academies and childcare facilities
  2. The inspection of agencies responsible for adoption, fostering and other social care services
  3. The inspection of other services for children and young people
  4. Carrying out research on education and social care
  5. Reporting on the above institutions and relaying the information to the government

Although OFSTED is a non-ministerial department of the UK government and reports to Parliament, it is independent and impartial.

What is an OFSTED rating?

OFSTED rank schools based on information gathered in inspections which they undertake. OFSTED ratings are the means by which OFSTED inspectors indicate the quality of an institution following an inspection.

There are four OFSTED ratings:

  1. Grade 1: Outstanding

    An outstanding school provides exceptionally well for the needs of its pupils and prepares them for the next stage of their education or employment at the highest possible level.
    Educational institutions which are rated as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED are exempt from routine OFSTED inspection unless they are nurseries, special schools or Pupil Referral Units (PRUs).

  2. Grade 2: Good

    A good school provides well for the needs of its pupils and prepares them effectively for the next stage of their education or employment. Schools rated as ‘good’ receive a one-day short inspection every three years, or a full inspection if the school’s performance has changed dramatically.

  3. Grade 3: Requires Improvement.

    A school that requires improvement is not inadequate, but neither is it satisfactory. Schools which are rated as requiring improvement will receive another full OFSTED inspection within two years in order to monitor their progress.

  4. Grade 4: Inadequate

    An inadequate school has significant weaknesses and is failing to prepare its students effectively for the next stages of their lives. The management and leadership, however, are judged to be Grade 3 or above. Schools graded as inadequate will receive regular OFSTED inspections. If the management team of a Grade 4 school is not judged to be Grade 3 or above, it will be ranked as a Special Measures school. An inadequate school has significant weaknesses and is failing to prepare its students effectively for the next stages of their lives. The management and leadership, however, are judged to be Grade 3 or above.

    Schools graded as inadequate will receive regular OFSTED inspections. If the management team of a Grade 4 school is not judged to be Grade 3 or above, it will be ranked as a Special Measures school.

How much notice do OFSTED give before an inspection?

Generally speaking, OFSTED will notify a school at midday on the day before its inspection. This is to ensure that the headteacher, the chair of governors and all other relevant staff members are present for the inspection.

In situations where serious complaints have been made about a school – such as those pertaining to pupils’ safety – OFSTED can inspect a school without prior notice. In this case, the school will be notified fifteen minutes before the arrival of the OFSTED inspector.

OFSTED inspections cannot take place in the first five working days of the autumn term. They can also be deferred in exceptional circumstances such as school closure.

What happens during an OFSTED inspection?

The most important aspect of an OFSTED inspection is class observation. The inspectors will sit in on lessons and gather evidence in order to help them gauge a school’s rating.

Other inspection methods used by OFSTED include:

  1. Communicating with pupils and teaching staff about the school
  2. Taking into consideration school evaluations undertaken by local authorities
  3. Meeting with the headteacher and senior staff members in order to discuss their findings and provide oral feedback

After the inspection OFSTED will:

  1. Write a full report on the findings of their inspection
  2. Send this report to the school in order to receive feedback
  3. The completed report is then published by OFSTED within twenty eight days of the inspection

The school is required by law to provide a copy of the report to the parents of all pupils.

Classroom Management Strategies

Create a positive environment

Creating a positive environment for your students – both emotionally and physically – is one of the best classroom management strategies.

In order to create a good relationship with your students, try:

  1. Greeting your students by name. Students who feel as though they have a personal relationship with their teachers are often more motivated
  2. Saying good morning/afternoon and goodbye when your students enter and leave your classroom. This expresses that you are pleased to see them and sets an example to the students of the kind of polite behaviour you expect from them in return
  3. Taking opportunities to build relationships with your students. Chat to them, recommend books or websites that will interest them and pay attention to their likes and dislikes

The way that your students interact with each other in your classroom is as important as the way they interact with you. Praise positive interactions, foster good working relationships between students in your classes and never permit any cruelty or disrespect.

Consider the layout of the classroom

The layout of a classroom also has a demonstrable impact on the learning environment. The traditional classroom structure with students seated in rows facing the front can make classroom management difficult.

Studies have shown that arranging desks in a semicircle creates a more integrated and communicative atmosphere in the classroom, leading to a more enjoyable and effective learning experience for students. This, in turn, can reduce misbehaviour.

Make sure that all your students can see and hear you, each other and if necessary, the board. Take steps to eliminate any other distractions such as overly bright or flickering lights or cold draughts that could negatively impact your learning environment.

Use positive body language

Body language, though less overt than many other classroom management strategies, is one of the most important aspects of classroom management. It is vital that your non-verbal communication with students reinforces your verbal instructions rather than undermining them.

Positive body language includes:

  1. Animated facial expressions and gestures
  2. Frequent smiling
  3. Confident, upright posture
  4. Uncrossed arms
  5. A clear and upbeat voice
  6. A varied tone – monotonous speech results in students losing focus

Movement also plays a significant role in successful classroom management. Try:

  1. Walking freely around the classroom in order to distribute your attention amongst your students
  2. Avoiding barriers (such as desks) between yourself and your students
  3. Crouching down so that you are on, or below, a student’s eye level when you are addressing them

Use sanctions where necessary

The manner in which you issue sanctions is a reflection of your ability to manage a classroom.

When correcting a student’s behaviour:

  1. Be clear about what you are instructing the student to do, or not to do. Use simple language
  2. Avoid a punitive tone. Be confident, polite and friendly in your manner. Students are more likely to respect you if they feel that you respect them
  3. Discretion is advised. Humiliating a student by reprimanding them when the whole class can hear increases the likelihood of escalation
  4. Keep it brief. You don’t want to get into a debate – or worse, an argument. Your instruction is non-negotiable. Deliver it and move on, walk away or speak to another student

Use positive reinforcement

Many children simply misbehave for attention. You can counteract this by providing them with the attention they crave in positive reinforcements instead of negative ones

In order to put this into practice:

  1. Tone down your reprimands. When a student tries to get your attention at an inappropriate time, ignore the behaviour or quietly and calmly instruct them to resume their work
  2. Focus on praising the student when they are behaving well. If they learn to associate attention with positive behaviour, this will break their pattern of seeking negative attention

Remember that for every student being disruptive, there are usually many others behaving well. If your focus is always on the misbehaving student, you’re reinforcing that behaviour.

Preparing for the GDPR: what you need to think about

Guest blog from Fergal Roche:

“Fergal Roche is the Chief Executive of The Key, a company that provides trusted leadership and management support to over 40% of the schools in England and Wales.

Through his work regularly visiting and engaging with some of The Key’s 100,000 members, he has great insight into the world of school leadership and the issues affecting school leaders and governors today. 

He has been headteacher/principal of three schools and currently chairs the board of a multi-academy trust in Guildford.

He holds a BA (QTS) from Exeter University, an MA from the Open University and an MBA from Nottingham University.

Fergal is passionately committed to supporting schools in delivering better outcomes for children and young people. In 2007 he joined Ten Group to set up The Key and realise his vision of a service that would enable school leaders to run their schools with increased confidence, knowledge and capacity.”


Preparing for the GDPR: what you need to think about

It’s now only a few short months before the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force.  From 25 May 2018, the new regulations will affect the way schools process people’s personal data, with the aim of ensuring sensitive data is kept safe and secure.  It’s similar to the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 in many ways – most of the differences involve the GDPR building on or strengthening these principles. If you’re compliant with the DPA now, you’ll be compliant with much of the GDPR already.

If you haven’t already started looking into what you need to do to prepare, there are lots of resources available online to help you quickly get up to speed. Cutting the requirements down into timely and achievable objectives is the simplest way to tackle it – our GDPR roadmap is an example of how you could break down the key milestones.

There are a number of things to think about, but broadly speaking, kick-starting the process with an audit to map out the personal data your school holds, where it came from, and what you do with it, is the first step.  Collating this information aligned against the 6 lawful bases laid out in the new regulations will help you quickly see which areas you’re already compliant in, and where you need to focus your efforts. Doing this will also help you to establish a record of your data processing activities, which you can maintain going forward. It will also enable you to update your privacy notices, to ensure these are compliant. Make sure they are in clear, plain language – especially those that refer to children’s data, so that a child can understand them.

Perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle in these early stages is to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO), who must be in place by the time the regulation comes into force. Your DPO will be someone in your school, someone you share with other schools, or an external data protection adviser, who takes responsibility for monitoring data protection compliance and has the knowledge, support and authority to do so effectively.

Priorities for March

Having completed these steps, take the rest of March to ensure your data processing procedures are in line with the new requirements. Look at how you honour individuals’ rights and respond to subject access requests, and check you have a robust system for managing consent, where you need to get it.

Think about how you might respond in the case of a data breach, and put procedures in place to demonstrate how you would detect, report and investigate personal data breaches.  

It may seem like a daunting process, especially with limited time! However, splitting the requirements out into manageable chunks and tackling one task at a time will ensure you’re able to get everything done in time, and have one less thing to worry about.  For more information and support, The Key has tonnes of useful resources and templates available to help you along the way.

Maker Difference

A guest blog by Donna Rawling.

“I am Computing Lead at a Primary school in Greater Manchester. I ama CAS Master Teacher, Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, BCS accredited and a Barefoot Computing presenter. My passion is to encourage as many children as possible to study Computer Science and ultimately pursue a career in the Sciences. I do this through a STEM/STEAM, MakerEd approach wherever possible, with a huge emphasis on Growth Mindset and resilience. I hold daily drop-ins in the school makerspace which I have developed, it’s attended by up to 40 children, where junk modelling, knitting and Coding are all part of the lunchtime sessions”

For much of her life I’ve had a sense of what is important to me, but also very much a feel of many strands of my life, experiences and, dare I say my talents (as I perceive them) to be the raw materials of some as yet unwoven cloth or project.

My ‘lightbulb moment’ (more of the lightbulb later) came when I inherited my Mum’s button tin.

When I sadly lost my Mum 5 years ago, one of the things that I felt really strongly that I wanted to have of hers was her button tin. This tin, full of buttons of every shape, size and texture had been one of the enduring highlights of my childhood. I used to love to sift through it, wondering where each button had started life, what it had been attached to, what it had helped to hold together.

It was my Mum who had taught me to sew; to knit; to crochet. My Mum who had never lost patience in my endless stitch dropping, who casted on and off for me as this for me, in my scarf making stages, was the ‘tricky bit.’ These times of crafting still envoke fond memories of comfort, belonging, social engagement, the finished product being almost an aside.

As I began my career in Education, I keenly recognised this for need belonging in the children in my care, of finding a voice, a way to state one’s identity.

Louise – What is your approach to Education?

Headteacher Louise, from Norbury Primary school, tells us about her approach to Education.

Our support has always been a key part of helping all types of people find work, in the UK and abroad.

It’s our approach to support which starts with a free career planning session no matter your location, experience or role, we believe that quality recruitment begins with helping and understand your unique needs.

Teri-Louise – What has surprised me about teaching

Teri-Louise talks to use about what has surprised her most about being a full-time primary teacher!

Our support has always been a key part of helping all types of people find work, in the UK and abroad.

It’s our approach to support which starts with a free career planning session no matter your location, experience or role, we believe that quality recruitment begins with helping and understand your unique needs.