‘Relevance and motivation are the great values of staff CPD’

In our latest virtual roundtable, two further education representatives help us explore Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and its impact on the education workforce

The panel

  • Stephen Mariadas, lecturer, curriculum area manager in data and digital– Exeter College; CEO – South West Institute of Technology
  • Lynda Broomhead, head of faculty, academic and scientific studies – Petroc

Host: Genna Ash-Brown

In a profession dedicated to the process of knowledge and skills acquisition, it goes without saying that teachers should have the opportunity to frequently invest in and progress their own learning. But with growing workloads and rising levels of teacher burnout, it’s all too easy for the sector to overlook and undervalue Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and it’s impact on the education workforce.

From boosting student outcomes to improving staff retention, maximising classroom technology and upskilling the sector at large, the benefits of CPD in education are palpable and far-reaching. So how can we encourage the sector to embrace more of these opportunities? Our expert panel explores…

On the benefits of CPD for teachers

“Particularly within the FE (further education) sector, we are already renowned for our links to business, our links to employers, our state-of-the-art-skills – what’s actually happening in the workplace today as opposed to what happened 20 years ago. So CPD for staff is absolutely essential to keep those skills and that knowledge of industry…” – Stephen Mariadas

“The changing qualification platform out there with the introduction of T-Levels, that’s a different way to deliver high-quality technical education, really merging the classroom, [student] work placements and getting [them] ready for those skills so they’re displaying the skills and noted behaviours that employers need. To keep relevant with that, staff have to know what that looks like in the workplace…I think relevance and motivation are the great values of staff CPD” – Lynda Broomhead

On inspiring teaching 'excellence' among staff

“I guess excellence looks different in different sectors and I think it probably looks different in different delivery models…Something that’s important is the outcome for the learners – so they are displaying the behaviours – they have the knowledge and skills as well, but they behave as the sector wants” – Lynda Broomhead

“Anybody can write something down on a piece of paper and pass an exam with enough practice. Within technical subjects, it’s about the ability to do. That comes with practice and it’s not revision from a textbook, it’s: do the job, practice the job, become excellent at it” – Stephen Mariadas

On CPD and the impact of COVID-19

“I think it’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic…No longer do you have to spend…two days travelling to a CPD session that maybe lasts a few hours. Now we can dip in and out of topics and you can have one excellent lead at the front of a CPD session that can be shared amongst a lot more attendees” – Stephen Mariadas

“The accessibility of training; to be able to actually get to it in between your teaching load and your other commitments…and also I think collaboration, so having collaborative digital spaces where you can get quick answers, share ideas, is much more responsive” – Lynda Broomhead

On delivering CPD programmes

“One thing we have used as a college is the ETF enhanced digital teaching platform…So what that does is it gives small chunks of CPD – so things around accessibility and getting that embedded across the curriculum. Using new technologies, we’ve been able to start with small chunks and then [figure out]: what can I implement with that?” – Lynda Broomhead


“So as a Microsoft Showcase College, Exeter College have obviously been very ‘Microsoft-ed’. So the way we’ve used Teams and OneNote has been quite enlightening, really. It’s almost the opposite of a vicious circle – doing the learning about how to deliver online has been CPD in itself” – Stephen Mariadas

On staff resistance to CPD

“I think most professions are resistant to change in some degree. It’s quite a big change to move online, and in this kind of way. But you see very little of that reluctance now – it’s just become the norm” – Stephen Mariadas

“There was certainly that kind of fear in people’s faces…and then you see them two weeks later and they’ve got all their groups and breakout rooms…I think it forced people to go out of their comfort zone…I’ve been pleasantly surprised at where it’s taken them” – Lynda Broomhead

On keeping CPD programmes up-to-date

“Something we’d been talking about prior to the pandemic, but has been pushed in a positive way, was the concept of digital badges, and small bite-sized chunks of skills that you pick up” – Stephen Mariadas

“It’s also about keeping that line of communication between the curriculum staff, and maybe other areas of the college…who look at technology and how we engage learners with it but also keep staff updated…having that collaboration, to ask questions and see what’s out there [means we can] all keep on top of everything” – Lynda Broomhead

On juggling CPD and teacher workloads

“I think what’s refreshing about CPD is it can be a bit of a motivator to come away from that humdrum, and I think as a manager or as an organisation, it’s about carving out the space where you get a break from the relentless process we’re in” – Lynda Broomhead

“It can be said that a crisis can bring out the best in management…I think that the focus of an organisation has to be filtered and polarised into a single direction. And that really helps with CPD” – Stephen Mariadas

On funding for CPD

“It’s a big time of change within the government. There’s a lot of focus on T-Levels, on higher technical qualifications, and fortunately, the government is backing that with money for CPD, training for staff and setting up new courses that are going to help people make the change into this new world of qualifications” – Stephen Mariadas

“The availability of industry insight mentoring programmes – there is a lot more out there and there has been for a while” – Lynda Broomhead

Top tips for CPD development and delivery

“Having a clear direction, small, bite-sized and accessible, regular, chance to implement, use, reflect and integrate into practice – those would be my top tips” – Lynda Broomhead

“Let’s keep the best things that happen at the moment. When we develop CPD, when we deliver CPD, make sure it is in that hybrid model…[and] if you want to bring that CPD to other people, the fact that it’s available online for more to do can only be a benefit” – Stephen Mariadas

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