Balancing subject knowledge, subject pedagogy and general pedagogy

Balancing subject knowledge, subject pedagogy and general pedagogy.

Research shows that CPD focussed on general pedagogy is not sufficient; it should include a balance of

  • subject knowledge;
  • subject-specific pedagogy;
  • clarity around learner progression, starting points and learner progression; and
  • content and activities to help teachers understand how pupil learn, both in general and in specific subject areas.

Through the ‘whole school’ model of professional development, subject specific professional development is often neglected. Remember to utilise faculty and department time and expertise to support addressing this.

We recommend that teachers and other practitioners engage with their relevant subject or specialist association – see our list here.

Blog Point of View, Alex Quigley: In defence of cross-curricular CPD

Blog Point of View, Tessa Matthews: We should have less cross-curricular CPD

Blog, David Weston: Should we stop CPD about teaching techniques?

Blog, Phil Stock, Network Member Greenshaw High School: 10 ideas for developing subject knowledge and pedagogy

Article from SecED including a worked example of changing a purely generic CPD session into something more pupil-focussed and subject-specific: David Weston – CPD and your subject.

In general it is helpful for schools to create structured subject meeting time to discuss:

  • the best approaches to teach specific topics including common errors/misconceptions/difficulties, different ways to check for understanding (formative assessment) and necessary prior understanding;
  • expectations of what is possible for different types of students to learn/understand/achieve in different topics and how this relates to the department’s aspirations for students, drawing on inspiring and challenging examples of what is possible from other schools;
  • question-level data from tests/assignments/exams to identify specific challenges in topics or skills and then plan to improve and refine teaching in this area;
  • work samples, video clips of lessons and pupil feedback around specific topics or lessons, with time to plan changes in teaching; and
  • reflections on lessons or assessments that had been jointly planned, drawing in learning and planning further improvements.

All of this discussion should be supported by well-trained coaches/facilitators and should draw upon subject-specific expertise and advice where possible.