By Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson
The findings published by the Teacher Development Trust on teacher CPD are disturbing and serve to further highlight the funding crisis in education.
As shocking as the figures are – 21,000 teachers working in schools with no CPD budget – it is consistent with Voice’s understanding of the situation.
We are aware, through our members, that in times of financial pressure the CPD budget is often the first casualty. Headteachers have very tough financial decisions to make. None of them want to reduce, let alone cut, CPD budgets. They understand the value of investing in CPD and it should not be suggested that their decisions are made lightly. Quantitative data without the qualitative counterpart excludes individual school circumstances and context.
The correlation between individual school CPD funding and Ofsted judgements is unsurprising too, although it is always good to have evidence to support what has until now been largely anecdotal.
Teachers in ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools are no more committed than their colleagues in a school that ‘requires improvement’ or has been judged ‘inadequate’. They do, however, tend to feel more valued because their training and professional development needs are addressed, even though workload remains an issue.
CPD not only benefits pupils, it benefits the individual, the profession and education.
Whilst we are constantly assured by ministers that school funding is at the highest level on record, that it is protecting per pupil funding and has committed a further £190m to support underperforming schools, current funding is clearly not sufficient to deliver the Government’s own aspirations for education; or provide for the education and technical skills needs of pupils and, consequently, the economy, both now and post-Brexit.
As we know, depending on how the data is interpreted, altering school structures or what they are called does not eradicate problems, nor does simply throwing money at a problem – usually. Additional, significant funding is a necessity in this case, as is time to enable schools to build the capacity which enables them to meet the challenges of the changing education landscape. CPD is an investment not a cost.
We are constantly reminded that the quality of teaching is reliant on the quality of the teachers. Is it not, therefore, time to stop investing much-needed funding in re inventing the wheel – or grammar schools – or incentivising or insisting schools change what they are called and how are run and managed, thus creating a further layer of bureaucracy for schools and school leaders to navigate, and instead invest in teachers and the wider education workforce?
Heads have been criticised for cutting CPD budgets, but the ‘buck’ doesn’t stop with them. They need sufficient funding from government to invest in their most valuable resource – teachers.