The role of any Teaching Assistant (TA) or support staff is to raise standards through the support of pupils, teachers, the curriculum and the school. Teaching Assistances provide support to the classroom teacher as well as helping, supporting, and challenging pupils within the learning environment. This article provides a brief overview of CPD, the professional development requirements, as well outlining the school staff competency framework.
Teacher Training and Development
Teaching assistants and support staff are a very significant and essential resource in primary classrooms, so much so that it is hard to imagine how schools could manage without them. At the time of writing, there are over 400,000 teaching assistants (TAs) and support staff working in the UK. Yet, despite the significant rise in the number of TAs working in schools, there has been little in the way of effective guidance as to what good practice looks like – at a school level, or at a classroom level.
Continuing Professional Development, or CPD is the improvement of professional and educational practice throughout a teacher or teaching assistant’s career. Professional development and CPD programmes aim to provide a practical framework for support staff to update their professional skills and knowledge on a regular ongoing basis that can help them to remain competent and enhance everyday teaching abilities.
Effective CPD for teaching assistant and support staff with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to contribute to the school’s overall aim of raising educational standards, uphold school policies and provide appropriate and reliable support for the school.
Teacher CPD training can lead to a more stimulating and effective teaching environment, and professional development can enable teachers and teaching assistants to obtain new techniques, share best practice, and apply fresh approaches to teaching that allows them to improve their ability both for students, as well as expand their own personal opportunity within the teaching industry. Maximising the quality of teaching through effective professional development will therefore be at the top of any school’s priorities.
Support staff training ideas
A range of different CPD courses aim to provide teachers, teaching assistants and school support staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver high quality education in the school environment. CPD is designed to support teachers in a simple but effective manner to personal improvement that does not have to be expensive or overly time consuming. For CPD courses to be fundamentally successful, they should be focused around being practical, applicable, affordable and enjoyable. These can be a mix of both “within-school activities”, and external CPD activities.
Within-school activities examples include coaching, mentoring, support for individual members of staff arising from performance management interviews, team teaching, sharing good practice, lesson observation and feedback, and whole school development activities.
External activities such as training courses for school support staff, accredited postgraduate study, conferences, industrial placement or work shadowing, and international study visits and exchanges.
TA and support staff CPD requirements
The Department for Education’s guidelines dictate that teachers are required to keep their knowledge and skills up to date. This means you are required to objectively assess your abilities and identify training that would bridge any gaps in your knowledge, or aim to improve any areas of weakness.
The DfE states that it is up to the individual to respond to advice and feedback from colleagues and leadership, and identify appropriate professional development programmes.
CPD provision will differ from school to school with a combination of structured programmes, one-off events from commercial providers to lesson study opportunities and school visits. Although the DfE does not outline statutory requirements on the content, duration or delivery method of CPD programmes in schools, they are clear that personal development of teachers must be a partnership between support teachers, head teachers and leadership teams.
They outline a set of criteria to measure the success of this collaboration:
- CPD should focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes
- Your training should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
- It should include collaboration and expert challenge
- Development programmes should be sustained over time
- Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership
The Chartered College of Teaching (CCT) was opened in 2017 as the chartered professional body for the teaching profession. Teachers and those from the wider education community can sign up for a variety of different memberships for an annual charge, and benefit from access to research, events, and professional learning.