O Wonder!

Involving the HE sector in subject specific CPD

‘Miranda: O brave new world/that has such people in’t!

Prospero: Tis new to thee.’

The Tempest Act 5 lines 183-4

Shakespeare you are brilliant. You thus neatly encapsulate the tension between innocence and experience; Miranda’s youthful idealism and optimism is tempered by her father Prospero’s response borne, perhaps, out of sadness, cynicism or sheer fatigue.

Versions of this exchange can be heard in staff rooms up and down the country. Newly and recently qualified teachers start off with great enthusiasm about the difference they can make to young people and they want to share the passion they feel for their specialism. And yet, we know that too many of them want to leave the profession within five years as Colin Harris points out here.

And who can blame more experienced teachers for losing some of their energy and motivation when they are faced with change fatigue and a perception that the curriculum is so narrow that it has become stale and boring?

Clearly work load issues need to be resolved, but there is also a need to recognise that teachers need constant re-energising with the fuel that lit the fire in the first place.

Shaun Allison shares some great ideas for integrating subject specific CPD into a whole school model that is both cost effective and sustainable. For an outward facing option, places such as the National STEM Learning Centre in York run superb subject specific CPD and produce excellent publications like their learning magazines:


Just a few examples of different ways to motivate and revitalise the enthusiasm for the subject specialism. To add to the mix, I wonder if we can explore more collaboration between schools and universities?

Some of the most valuable subject specific CPD I ever had was when my school (a West Yorkshire comprehensive) arranged for me to spend five days at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. It was an enlightened annual scheme that supported short periods of residential study leave in term time. As a busy Head of English running a large department, it felt like a real privilege to be given time to spend in a library properly reading and preparing for my teaching of The Tempest the following term. I didn’t have to write a report. I didn’t have to demonstrate impact on outcomes. I was trusted to work hard and so I did. I came back to school raring to go, excited again about the ‘brave new world’ of English teaching and in touch with why I came into the profession in the first place. I couldn’t wait for the September start and I remember with great affection the way the students engaged in the lively classroom debates during the following year.

Let’s be brave about finding ways to support this kind of initiative. Let’s believe in its value and make it happen. Let’s show that good learning can be caught and not just taught. Let’s give teachers the opportunity to model their enthusiasm for learning.

Oh…and as for the impact of said CPD?

Nineteen years later I was contacted by The Guardian to contribute to a feature in G2.

I couldn’t be prouder of Lola and the difference she is making to the world.

Now that was impact worth waiting for.

Tags: ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

4 − 2 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.