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ATL’s Kate Quigley and Alison Ryan on Great CPD – PP54

The topic of the week is ATL’s Kate Quigley and Alison Ryan on Great CPD.


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ATL’s National Learning Manager, Kate Quigley and Senior Policy Advisor, Alison Ryan joined us to talk about the Continuing Professional Development opportunities the ATL offers to its members and also about what makes great CPD and how we know when it is great.

Paul wonders what Kate considers a union like ATL’s role is in teacher CPD. Kate says that ATL recognises that teachers are professionals and as part of that they need to have a continuum of professional development. ATL demonstrate what they think that continuum could look like. They work with high quality providers to offer CPD from Initial Teacher Training and NQT level to school leadership.

CPD is best when it is tailored to the needs of the individual as well as the needs of the school.

kateATL believes that teachers should have a contractual right to CPD. The single biggest influence on teaching and learning is having high quality teaching and this is about teachers maintaining their skills and knowledge. So it’s important to have a contractual right to dedicated time to research a subject, work with expert colleagues and to be free to innovate.

Shape Education

Kate describes and explains the ‘Shape Education‘ vision ATL has developed. It’s all about what ATL members think education should look like – what education is for and about.

Independent schools

Paul asks if ATL members who work in independent schools share the same passion for CPD as those in state schools. Kate replies that the whole teaching profession is a learning profession. By nature, all teachers want to learn, to develop and improve their practice.

What style of CPD do ATL members say they want?

Face-to-face training is the preference of the majority of ATL members. ATL provide very well-received online course, some of them with Pivotal Education, and these are great for discrete pieces of CPD but members say they want connections with peers, a space and someone to facilitate that connection. Owing to the constrictions schools find themselves working under today, these spaces have gone from the day-to-day life of teachers and this is what ATL now offers.

How do you measure CPD?

Alison points out that there is a lot of research out there about quality CPD. ATL have done their own investigations into what their members want and define as quality CPD as well as what academic journals and studies tell us. This informs ATL’s own CPD providers and is also sent out to CPD coordinators in schools.

Pupil outcomes are difficult to use when assessing impact because there are so many other factors at play but Alison says that a lot of research has shown that when leaders focus on teacher CPD, this is the most effective tool to raise pupil achievement. This means ATL have had a focus on working with school leaders.

ATL uses feedback from courses to inform future work and also often contacts course participants some time after the event to monitor the impact of the training. It is most important that the CPD which is undertaken is in response to a personal need and an organisational need. Also, CPD is most effective when it’s collaborative and sustained.

The policy and training areas of ATL work very closely together to ensure that ATL ‘does what it says’.

AlisonWhat is important in the leadership of CPD?

Leaders need to talk to teachers and support staff and ask them two questions:

What are your CPD needs?
What is getting in the way?
The most effective CPD comes from great needs analysis.

Look at where you can create time for CPD
Do you have time to try things out?
Do you have time to do the learning?
Do you have time to have the conversations you need to?
Do you have time to do the research, find out what the evidence is and apply it to your own practice?
A risk-averse culture is often a barrier to great CPD but as we know, you can’t really learn if you don’t take any risks. This means there has to be a culture which supports trying things out and collaboratively learning from them.


(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –



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