The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Lizzie Gait

How to engage staff in CPD

NTEN recently held a ‘How to engage staff in their CPD’ event at Blue Coat Academy, Nottingham. Lizzie Gait, training development lead, shares her thoughts and provides a brief summary of their latest research.

As a CPD enthusiast, I found this be an incredibly useful event and was excited to be able to share my thoughts and experiences of school-based training. To begin, we took part in speed networking, a great opportunity to share current experiences of CPD and aspirations for the future in our schools. Most of the schools in attendance formed part of the NTEN schools network, so it was fantastic to meet a group of people who were so engaged in improving their schools through effective CPD.

What does the research tell us?

Next we heard from David Weston, chief executive at Teacher Development Trust, who talked us through the findings of their recent project carried out in conjunction with Rob Coe and Steve Higgins of CEM in Durham. The aim of this project was, unsurprisingly, to find out how school staff best engage in their own CPD. Since the report is not due to be released until June, I can only provide you with a brief summary, but I’m sure you’ll find it resonates with you.


The first step to effective staff engagement is buy-in.

  • Not all CPD must be voluntary.
  • The best CPD will be pupil-focussed.
  • Timely, relevant CPD is key to engagement.
  • Colleagues need to believe that the CPD on offer to them is useful.


It’s crucial that your school environment is conducive to good CPD experiences.

  • Leaders must ensure that they aim to lead teacher learning, and are comfortable talking about and engaging in their own learning.
  • Those receiving CPD must feel secure in the fact that CPD is developmental, and feel prepared to take risks and try new things.


Unsurprisingly, the quality of information is key.

  • The trainer, obviously, needs to deliver high-quality information with expertise.
  • They must also be equipped with the skills to be a good trainer.

Learning to learn

Teachers aren’t used to being learners so, similar to their pupils, they need to learn the skills of being a good learner.

  • Support and systems are required to help teachers talk about their learning.
  • There needs to be a change in identity of the teacher – a shift to becoming a learner.

Following the research presentation, we sifted through some examples of developing engaging CPD in their school. It was very interesting to see the range of ideas, but challenging as well, as it really did highlight that there’s no perfect way. What will work in one school may not work in another. Finally, we heard from primary and secondary schools from across the country who briefly discussed how they have improved staff engagement. It’s clear that these schools are early on in a fantastic journey, and really did highlight the importance they place on improving the professional development of all staff. All in all, it was a valuable professional learning opportunity. Look out for the upcoming Teacher Development Trust research, due out in June of this year.

Further reading

Having trouble accessing the resources above?  Why not find out how Optimus supports schools with their CPD provision and request a demo of In-house Training and Knowledge Centre. It’s obligation free, and a great way to support staff development in your school.


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