Continuing professional development (CPD) will be an important factor in determining how well schools recover from the travails of COVID-19.
So say 88% of the school leaders polled by educational resource providers, The Key, with almost half (44%) saying they plan to extend CPD provision in the coming year.
Part of the desire for increased CPD could perhaps be attributed to leaders feeling a need to make up for lost time, with 44% saying that their staff had undertaken less CPD than normal over the last year, when supporting pupils and the school community at large through coronavirus-related challenges became an overriding focus.
The forms of CPD most valued by leaders included “peer-to-peer support from staff at other schools” (33%) and “inviting external speakers into school” (24%).
In a sign that post-pandemic teaching life is likely to look rather different to that which went before, fewer than one in 10 (9%) respondents to the survey showed a preference for returning to in-person CPD provision, such as conferences. Instead, almost a quarter (23%) would like to make CPD a purely virtual affair, with 67% preferring a blend of online and in-person.
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The Key has released the figures to coincide with the launch of its new digital CPD platform, IdeaStream, which it says is “designed to accelerate the sharing of peer-to-peer best practice as leaders move forward from recovery to a position of strength”.
While the data should not be taken as statistically representative – The Key did not weight the results from its survey’s 961 respondents – it is broadly reflective of the increased reliance on virtual services over the last year.
“We recognise that CPD is going to play a big role in supporting leaders as they emerge determinedly from the pandemic and guide their schools back to strength,’ said Nicola West Jones, head of market research at The Key.
“But we also recognise that the pandemic has completely changed expectations of how CPD can be delivered. We’ve seen first-hand how powerful the sharing of just one great idea can be for solving problems in hundreds of other schools.
“Having on-demand access to a virtual roster of school leaders and sector experts means leaders can now lean on their peers for support, whenever they need to, in order to drive positive change in their schools.”