Typically, many schools spend huge sums of money sending teachers on externally run professional development courses to satisfy their CPD needs. However, this can be an extremely expensive and inefficient way of maximising the impact of your budget.
Take for example a typical price of a course – generally around £200-£300. Next, factor in the travel costs to get that member of staff to the course itself. Unless you are in the city that the course is being held in, this can be another costly expense. Train fares into London from many places in the UK can sometimes reach £100 and beyond. Then you need to also add on the cost of a cover teacher for the day, which is usually around £175. Taking all this into account, the course that you thought might cost £300 has now nearly doubled in price.
The impact of this may also be very small. One person, going out of school for one day, can have quite a limited impact. If nobody is there with them and there is nobody to hold that person to account, then there is quite a high chance that nothing might change as a result of the course.
Due to the lack of impact that schools are getting from this traditional CPD route, together with the ever-tightening budgets that school leaders are having to deal with, schools are starting to look at more efficient ways of delivering CPD to their staff. This way, schools can get more for their money, whilst also increasing the reach and impact of their budget on staff training.
The three most common ways of being more efficient and effective with a smaller CPD budget are as follows:
1) Pay external providers of training to come onto site as part of a twilight CPD session to deliver the training to all school staff. For some speakers (if you contact them directly), you may be able to get them to come in and speak for a couple of hours to the whole staff, for the same price that you would have paid for one member of staff to attend a course.
2) Train and develop an internal team of experts to deliver regular professional development to the staff in your school. This has three main benefits. Firstly, it is free, so you immediately save a significant amount of money. Secondly, you begin to develop these teachers as leaders and experts in classroom pedagogy. Thirdly, their messages are far more authentic than any message from an external speaker. They teach your children, in your school, so straight away this comes with a significant amount of authenticity that an external speaker can never reach.
3) Subscribe to an online professional development site that offers year-round access to essential courses and resources that staff can access whenever and wherever they want. This way, staff can access what they want, when they want it, rather than having to wait for something of interest to come up.
Are you spending too much on external professional development with little impact to show for it? How can you start to become more efficient with your budget, whilst also raising the reach and impact of your offer?