Support staff are often on different contracts and hours to teaching staff, so it can be challenging to meet their development needs. However, professional development has a strong impact on pupil outcomes and the running of the school, so it is crucial that this is invested in.
Support Staff who work directly with children
For those staff who work around children’s learning, the same principals of professional learning apply
- It needs to be focussed, sustained and iterative – one-off courses on a specific need every year is unlikely to change day-to-day practice.
- Support staff also need time to share practice and collaborate – this time is often missing.
- Professional Learning should be pupil focussed and evaluated clearly.
- Performance management or appraisal should support professional learning.
- Support staff should also be using evidence-informed approaches and should engage with research.
- Collaborative enquiry is equally valuable for support staff, many Lesson Studies include support staff.
General Support Staff
General support staff who do not work directly with children still need professional development. Some things to remember are
- Opportunities to gain new knowledge and use the most evidence-informed up to date approach.
- Time and support to take back any new knowledge from a course, lecture etc. into their regular practice.
- Performance management and appraisal that supports their professional learning.
- Career development, considering further accreditation, job shadowing, mentoring and coaching etc.
- Chance to share best practice, model best practice and collaborate. Often support staff don’t have meeting times.