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CPD and Pupil Premium: What You Need to Know

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Nigel Bishop, National Education Trainer and Consultant, Understanding ModernGov

Nigel Bishop, National Education Trainer and Consultant, Understanding ModernGov

Nigel has spent half his life working in education; as a teacher, deputy and head. For the last five and a half years he has enjoyed being a consultant and trainer, supporting schools and academies across the country with their use of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG), as well as developing their use of support staff. As such he was the man we went to get some pointers on CPD and the PPG.

Nigel has always been interested in data; “I try to share with colleagues the ways in which it can be used to target actions and approaches and demonstrate the impact of strategies chosen to enable pupils to reach their potential.” A relatively recent addition to his training toolkit has been to research and reflect on the whole area of teachers’ continuing professional development and learning, for which he has drawn heavily on “a very informative document published by the Teacher Development Trust in 2015.” Its title is Developing Great Teaching and consists chiefly of a review of English language research into CPD from 2000 onwards.

In Nigel’s view three of its top tips for CPD are:

  • Ensure that training is accurately designed to meet participants’ needs
  • Make the links between professional and pupil learning explicit
  • Build in external expert follow-up and in-school peer support

Nigel explains that, as many will know from their own experiences of CPDL, “the most effective training firstly allows participants to share their own knowledge and beliefs about the subject matter, challenges any misconceptions in a non-threatening way and facilitates critical engagement with the content. Follow-up is crucial to changing behaviours, both from outside and within the school, and opportunities to share what has been learnt more widely amongst the staff will allow the learners to consolidate their professional gains. Above all perhaps, it is essential that the content offered has direct relevance to what goes on in the classroom, the dance studio or on the sports field.”

According to Nigel, any follow-up planned in conjunction with training should include impact not only on teaching, in as much as that can be ‘measured’, but crucially on learning outcomes for pupils. As he says, it is notoriously difficult at times to isolate the effect of a particular CPD input on test results or other measures but he would suggest that the effort should always be made to find something that can be evaluated objectively as a result of a change in approach.

Throughout his time working in over two hundred schools in the last five years, including pre-schools, primaries, secondaries and special schools, leaders universally tell him that “the quality of teaching and learning support are the two most important factors influencing the education that their children and young people receive – perhaps we should all give a little more thought to ensuring that what we are providing in our CPDL is as effective as it can be.”

As well as CPD, another key area that can have a strong influence on pupil attainment is the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG). From his significant expertise, Nigel summed up the key expectations from Ofsted and the DfE in relation to PPG expenditure as the following:

  • The money should be targeted at all of the eligible pupils regardless of ability (although I invariably find during Pupil Premium reviews that a greater proportion of PP pupils exhibit SEN than their non-PP peers).
  • Actions and approaches should be chosen based on external or in-school evidence of their likely effectiveness, including the use of limited trials and control groups where appropriate.
  • School leaders should be able to demonstrate the impact of their PPG spending in diminishing differences between those in receipt of PPG and other pupils, both within the school or academy and nationally.

Nigel also states that, “since September 2016 there has been an expectation that a clear rationale and its impact on both eligible and non-eligible pupils must be reported annually, and for this purpose a strategy document on the school or academy’s website should provide a clear and concise summary of all aspects of PPG provision.” Ultimately, clearly targeted and demonstrable planning and implementation processes are the order of the day.

Nigel Bishop spoke about Raising Teaching Standards Through Effective Professional Development and a Pupil Premium Health Check to Increase Social Mobility at The Academies Show

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