Research shows that one of the biggest concerns a setting has when purchasing CPD is the practical realities of their staff being able to do it.
The EYFS tells us that staff "must undertake appropriate training and professional development that continually improves’’ (2021; 3.21). To secure an “outstanding” judgement, a setting needs to demonstrate that focused and highly effective professional development is in place.
However, there is rarely the luxury of time or money for all staff to do all the training they would benefit from. And when you do make that purchase, how can you be sure that it is going to be advice you can trust – or have any impact on practice going forward?
I was a nursery manager for many years, utilising various styles and approaches to training.
- I was good at identifying the training my staff needed, always sure to pick CPD-certified providers
- I was great at selecting the staff that would get the most out of it
- We met before hand, and spoke on their return, identifying the support they needed
- And most of the time I was pretty good at organising numbers so that they could even attend
But the same pattern would frequently seem to emerge; tremendously enthusiastic staff returning from their day out, but weeks later I would see little in the way of tangible change. While they had been inspired and captivated, once back in the realities of a busy nursery, it was like they had never been. So, what was going wrong?
It wasn’t until I left practice and became a consultant myself that I appreciated what it means to be a CPD-certified provider. And the little bearing this can have on realised improvements.
If you want to affect real change, anything you invest in needs to have direct and continued impact on the experiences of your children. And within a busy nursery, this is rarely going to happen as a direct result of sitting in a training room for a day.
- Training needs to be delivered by people who really understand what it means to work in a busy school or setting, with the knowledge and experience of what children need, and how to go about offering it
- It needs to be realistic advice that you can trust and believe in
- And there needs to be some continuation, with ideas you can reflect on, and revisit. Maybe even weeks later
It is for these reasons that all the training I write follows the Department for Education’s five standards for teachers’ CPD. Working in the early years, we are less familiar with these standards – but no less deserving of them. So, let us look at what they are.
Standard One - professional development should focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes
Training should be clear about its expected impact. Reflecting on knowledge, experience and goals, and with tools to help change practice and evaluate impact.
Reflective practice is something we are very familiar with in the early years. But without a clear focus, reflections will have little impact on the outcomes or experiences of the children.
Standard Two - professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
Training should be explicit about the evidence underpinning the practices it advocates. Clearly explaining how and why its messages are intended to work.
Without underpinning knowledge and understanding, any advice you receive is unlikely to gain much traction. How many times have you asked someone to do something? Without understanding why, they are unlikely to continue when you are not around.
Standard Three - professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge
Training should include opportunities to discuss and ask questions. To consider the impact of methods being trialled and to challenge expectations.
Training that overlooks opportunities to discuss current practice or desired outcomes with colleagues is likely to simply wash over you. It may sound hugely inspirational in the moment, but with little impact down the line.
Standard Four - professional development should be sustained over time
Sustained change takes commitment. For any new practice to embed, the team needs to be aware of this commitment and supported in making the changes required.
Training often feels deeply inspiring on the day - even days after – but how many ideas did you carry through? Unless messages are revisited and supported after the demands of the day return, they will be soon forgotten.
Standard Five - professional development must be prioritised by school leadership
To support development, leadership teams need to see its requirement and their role within the process, along with tools and resources to support it.
CPD needs to be a priority and supported by those managing everyone’s time and budgets. But this can be tough, so anything that can simplify the process is going to help make it a reality.
The Nurturing Childhoods Ethos is to offer the key adults within every child’s life the knowledge, understanding and support required to nurture and develop every child’s full potential.
By embracing these standards, all CPD is personalised by the teams within each setting. Progress is driven by the reflections it prompts, and precise strengths and areas for improvement are used to target what will be highly effective professional development.
The longer Nurturing Childhoods Accreditation continues to maintain these standards by following a setting-based action-research model, so you will be sure to see deep and sustainable development taking root throughout your setting.
And with accompanying courses and materials available for your parents, you are in a perfect position to work together in establishing the knowledge, understanding and support they need too
Don’t just take my word for it, visit www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk where you can even take a free course.
Dr Kathryn Peckham’s exclusive CPD booster course giveaway
About the author:
As Founder of Nurturing Childhoods, Dr Kathryn Peckham is a passionate advocate for children’s access to rich and meaningful experiences throughout their foundational early years. Delivering online courses, training and seminars, she works with families and settings to identify and celebrate the impact of effective childhood experiences as preparation for all of life’s learning. An active campaigner for children, she consults on projects, conducts research for government bodies and contributes to papers launched in parliament. Through her consultancy and research she guides local councils, practitioners, teachers and parents all over the world in enhancing children’s experiences through the experiences they offer. A highly acclaimed author and member of parliamentary groups, Kathryn also teaches a Masters at the Centre for Research in Early Years.
Get in contact with Kathryn by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org