I am convinced that a large part of developing the staff you have is about recognising where the strengths are and sharing them. Following a department review and analysis of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 results, it became clear that one member of the department was exceptionally successful at maximising the potential of her students. This teacher was given the key C/D group in year 10 and a parallel group was given to an experienced teacher that a student voice evaluation had identified as very good at behaviour management but needing support with teaching and learning.
I have encouraged these teachers to work together throughout the year, working collaboratively to plan lessons for their groups on identified curricular targets.
I hope that this will be helpful for their own professional development and I am planning to ask them to run a session for all of us at the end of the year to tell us how it had gone and what they had got out of it.
As a result of a self evaluation exercise at our school we now have an improvement plan which really drives the work of the department. We make sure that professional development needs for staff are clearly identified in the plan.
Time is planned for teachers to meet with teaching assistants where they plan support and review the progress of targeted groups of pupils. One TA, who is specifically assigned to the mathematics department, identified that he wanted to access the funding to obtain HLTA status. This has enabled him to:
- access Local Authority subject knowledge training to improve his mathematical qualifications
- attend HLTA network meetings
- contribute more fully to the work of the department.
We have a performance management process at our school in which all staff (including support staff) are encouraged to select performance management targets which further their own professional development. As part of their performance management, staff have a personal interview in which they can identify and celebrate success but can also talk with a professional mentor about their personal development needs.
We make sure that everyone has at least one professional development area that is related to their own personal needs and/or aspirations and one which is directly related to the department’s vision and aims statement.
I want to support staff to achieve their performance management targets so I identify opportunities for them to participate in or run collaborative projects, feedback to department meetings and lead sessions at department CPD events.
(Excerpts from the Ofsted report Mathematics: understanding the score).
This report offers a range of external perspectives, examples of good practice and indications of national trends and standards which can be very helpful to a subject leader.
Here we have included elements which are relevant to this section on professional development.
81. Over the past few years, school-based training days have increasingly concentrated on whole-school issues such as assessment for learning and pupils’ behaviour and attendance. Schools do not make enough use of this time for subject-specific development. Meetings of secondary departments and primary school staff in some schools provide opportunities for professional development which are most effective when tailored to their particular needs.
82. The new professional standards and arrangements for performance management provide schools with a framework to support collaboration between staff and the sharing of good practice. While collaboration offers potential for professional development, the potential will not be realised if teachers’ development needs have not been identified accurately enough.
83. Overall, opportunities for professional development are fragmented and not matched closely to teachers’ individual needs. They do not help them to identify what they need to do to improve their subject expertise and how they might do it, building this up systematically. The most urgent needs are to develop primary and non-specialist teachers’ subject knowledge and secondary teachers’ subject-specific pedagogy. In particular, many teachers might benefit from professional development on planning and teaching for understanding.
85. A prime reason for improving professional development is the need for schools to nurture and develop their staff. This is especially important in secondary schools, many of which experience severe difficulties in recruiting teachers and departmental leaders. Some schools are ‘growing their own’ mathematics staff, through a combination of further study of mathematics and classroom practice.
86. Current developments in the 14–19 mathematics curriculum, such as the introduction of specialised diplomas, which include a functional mathematics component, are likely to increase the pressure on the supply of teachers of mathematics. A range of national initiatives is attracting more people of diverse backgrounds and experience into teaching mathematics, including graduates whose studies included a more limited amount of mathematics. Participants on mathematics enhancement courses, which are undertaken before trainees start teacher education courses, were excited about learning more mathematics and keen to start teaching it.