“For the best return on your money, pour your purse into your head.” - Benjamin Franklin


by Claire Chambers

Training is essential to ensure we have the skills and knowledge needed to carry out our role as effectively as possible. Our schools need to invest in us if we are to continue developing professionally and be able to give the young people we support the best possible learning experiences and outcomes. Training is empowering; we become more confident in our role as we become more skilled - it helps us keep up with changing ideas, advances in technology and to be better equipped to manage increased demands and expectations on our time and results. Everyone benefits! The most successful professionals view ongoing learning and professional development as an integral part of their work.

In light of this, why is it that ‘Schools’ spending on teacher training has dropped for the first time this decade despite a retention and recruitment crisis in the profession?’ (The analysis, carried out for education charity Teacher Development Trust, found that teacher training budgets have reduced by 12 per cent in secondary schools and 7 per cent in primary schools.)

Are schools cutting their development budgets at a cost to children’s education?

With school budgets tighter than ever, training appears to be an area that is hit hard and it’s clear to see why caution is applied when approving training. The logistics of organising staff cover can be a nightmare as well as costly and can lead to unsettled children and disjointed lessons. As schools struggle to retain their workforce, investments made in staff training are viewed as wasted if the member of staff leaves shortly after... Schools naturally become wary of paying for training for staff who may not stay. However, this must be weighed up with the thinking that Continuing Professional Development (CPD), above and beyond the standard CPD offered by the school, may help retain staff by enabling each member to fulfil their full potential and at the same time creating a stable workforce. (TES -Teacher Retention and CPD 31st December 2018)

There is more pressure than ever on schools to raise attainment and manage behaviour in the classroom, both of which can be linked back to speech, language and communication needs. Further training in identifying and supporting these needs will empower teachers and impact positively on the pupils. Training around a range of areas will place all staff in a far better position to be able to cater for the learning, behavioural and emotional needs of their children.

At a time when pressure is mounting around teacher recruitment, retention, pupil outcomes and quality of teaching, it is crucial to invest in staff development. And there are some ways to help keep costs down.

Keeping training costs down:

  • Team up with other schools to share the cost of external training
  • Take part in area training days
  • Deliver in-house training to other staff
  • Share good practice/knowledge/experiences/resources with nearby schools and vice versa
  • Make free publications that offer specialist SEND knowledge available to all staff; The Link Magazine and Afasic are good ‘go to’ resources
  • Consider alternate training methods, e.g. Online training, podcasts, webinars and virtual classrooms that offer training at a time to suit. This eliminates travel costs and the need for staff cover (this may be less expensive than face-to-face versions and can often be carried out in groups)
  • Explore social media for up-to-date news and You Tube videos
  • Ensure all staff complete any free online training exists within resources in which they have already invested

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), warned: “It will be students who lose out as they won’t be getting the same quality of teaching in the long term. And we are likely to see teacher burnout figures getting worse.”

How does your school manage CPD in this current economic climate? Do you think that limited training budgets have had an effect on staff retention in your setting?

Please get in touch and we will share all comments.