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Supporting all teachers through CPD

Published: Sep 20, 2022 4 min read

STEM learning

Nina Gunson is Head of Sheffield High School for Girls and Visiting Fellow at STEM Learning. In a series of exclusive blogs, she'll be discussing the challenges of recruitment, retention affecting the teaching profession in 2022, reflects on possible solutions and asks ‘what does outstanding teaching look like?’

Part 1 focused on supporting Early Career Teachers, now she turns her attention to the vital importance of CPD...

We need to equip teachers with more than a PGCE level of understanding of pedagogical approaches, solid subject knowledge and a scheme of work. We need to provide access to high quality, ongoing professional development that supports and enriches them at every stage of their careers.

I’ve been reflecting on what the best training and support looks like for a teacher at the different stages of their career. As a science teacher myself, and through my work as a visiting fellow with STEM Learning, it’s been useful for me to do this with a science department in mind and look at the range of opportunities for professional development offered by STEM Learning.

In teacher interviews, I ask applicants to tell me about some professional development they have engaged in during the last few years and how it has positively impacted their practice. In recent interviews, I have heard some really interesting responses to this question. One teacher, who worked in a pupil referral unit, used Trauma Informed training to implement strategies to acknowledge students’ emotions. This allowed them to move into a state where they were able to learn. Another completed various online courses during lockdown looking at inclusive practice and, as a result, had written a new KS3 scheme of work to bring more diversity into the curriculum.

Some of the teachers who have struggled to answer this question well are experienced teachers who, dare I say, sometimes come across as having nothing further to learn. I find it difficult to believe that any teacher has no room for development in the constantly evolving landscape of education. But is this group of established teachers too readily overlooked when it comes to ensuring they have access to appropriate professional development opportunities? As all school leaders know, upper pay scale teachers are an expensive asset, but should also be one of our most valuable assets, who can contribute significantly to outcomes for pupils, with continued investment in their professional development.

I was curious to hear about the most impactful CPD our most experienced science teachers had recently engaged in. They cited various specific examples, including investigating the impact of different approaches with their own teaching groups as part of their Masters study and a course at ESA in the Netherlands, looking at STEM in the context of space topics. Chatting with them also highlighted some common themes. They clearly value the opportunity to network and share ideas with other science teachers through Teachmeets and visiting other schools, something they had sorely missed during the pandemic. They appreciated courses or resources that helped them find ways to make cross-curricular links, such as developing maths or data science in their lessons or making links between the sciences or with geography or geology.

With these insights in mind, I revisited the STEM Learning offer to consider what part of their suite supported experienced teachers. As well as specific CPD opportunities that definitely hit the mark, such as ‘A level mathematics and A level physics working collaboratively', there are the opportunities to work with teachers across a cluster of schools with a shared development focus as part of an ENTHUSE Partnership, to be part of an active and inspiring network of STEM teaching professionals on STEM Community or to become accredited as a training facilitator themselves.

  • STEM Learning have announced a new Science CPD Partnership to improve teachers’ access to career-long, science-specific CPD, find out more

  • Browse the full CPD offering here