National Governors’ Association Guest Blog for TDT

 School Governing Boards and CPD

 It is probably safe to say that most governors recognise that the quality of teaching is critical to the success of their school.  However, it is probably also safe to say that most governing boards are less sure about the strategies schools employ for supporting and developing their employees through continuous professional development (CPD), let alone question the school about the effectiveness and value for money of these strategies.  In recognition of this, NGA has chosen CPD as one of its focuses for the year.

We believe that most governing bodies truly value their staff and often express this through their values and ethos.  However, we would like to see governing bodies embedding the role of staff in the school’s vision too.  We take the view that a vision should express the school’s ambition, or what the school will look like in three to five years’ time, including what the children should have left school having learned.  This could also embrace what the school will look like for staff – the quality expected and the support given.  That way, supporting and developing staff will become a key priority, ensuring that not only will there be measures for success, but also regular monitoring and evaluation of the CPD strategies determined upon.  This then encourages debate on effectiveness and value for money … also key governor roles.

This means that governors will need to know more about and understand better the options for CPD in their schools.  A starting point should be to ensure that the CPD strategy is closely aligned to the school’s improvement strategy with supporting budgets and success criteria.  It may be helpful for the head or the senior leader with responsibility for CPD to give a presentation on how staff needs are identified, and what the options are for meeting those needs.  There should also be plenty of opportunity for questions, and governors should be thinking about covering a range of issues such as:

Funding CPD

  • What is the budget for CPD? What percentage of total salary costs is this?

Identifying need

  • How do you determine where to focus CPD? Do you uses sites such as Do you identify expected impact and then measure against this?
  • Is there a point at which you would determine that matters are beyond CPD?

Identifying provision

  • With regard to external CPD such as staff going on courses, how do you choose providers and quality assure these? Have you ever asked for your money back?
  • Do we deliver CPD internally? Does co-planning and peer observation count as CPD?  If so, how do you make time for this?
  • Do staff access CPD opportunities on line? Does the school support this?
  • Has the school considered using video technology?

Types of CPD

  • Can you explain an ‘enquiry led’ approach? Do we adopt it in our school?
  • How many staff are being coached? And how many are coaches?
  • How many staff are furthering their academic knowledge through Masters qualifications or work with subject or other professional associations?

Working collaboratively

  • Do we work with or share CPD other schools?

Although there is often the assumption that governors who are not involved in education do not necessarily understand issues such as CPD, there are many similarities with other sectors, for example the debate over external delivery (going on a course) as opposed to internal sharing of expertise (coaching and mentoring).  And sometimes the reality of the more hardnosed commercial industries where it is commonplace for employers not to meet the full cost of CPD, especially if that CPD will not directly impact on the work of the organisation, contributes an interesting perspective to assumptions made about the right to CPD.

NGA is delighted to see organisations such as TDT working to promote quality CPD, along with innovations such as the Good CPD Guide.  In our ongoing quest to champion CPD for governors, our consultancy and training opportunities will shortly be listed.

 Clare Collins, Lead Consultant, National Governors’ Association.

Find out more about NGA here and follow them on twitter @NGAMedia.