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Edd Brown on How to Create Outstanding CPD – PP103

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The topic of the week is Edd Brown on How to Create Outstanding CPD.

Edd Brown is Improving Teaching and Learning Manager at Weston College, where he has been since he started his teaching career as a sports lecturer, nearly 13 years ago.

How do you get staff excited about professional development?

Edd understands the difficulty of finding time for CPD in FE. Weston has a blended approach to try and tackle this issue. They combine full INSET days with a range of strategies to help staff access CPD on a daily basis as and when they require it. It’s tracked through the virtual learning environment in a tool Weston has developed called 360 Degree CPD.

Weston sees the value in supporting staff’s CPD and so they invest in it. So staff can access CPD outside the College from external suppliers or attend conferences.

Edd tells us that the process to where they are today started in 2010 when they worked hard to define the baseline in CPD. From here they could target the aspects which staff needed the most. Before this culture change in 2010, Edd describes CPD at Weston as ‘quite fluffy’ – it didn’t have a lot which was teaching, learning and assessment focussed.

What have you learned no to do in CPD?

Whole day INSETS are just less effective.

These are often held at the end of busy terms for staff and this means they are often not as engaged in the CPD as he would like them to be. However, an organisation the size of Weston has to get staff together for things like mandatory training so they work hard to balance that with a varied programme on the days so that each INSET day is different in terms of structure or types of sessions. This is combined with a series of shorter, ‘light bite’ activities staff can access throughout the year.


Weston runs its own version of Teachmeet. They have a Wednesday CPD calendar with a curriculum shut down for 90% of the College. There is a half-termly rotation of different activities and a half-termly Teachmeet as well which is led by their coach or lead for teaching and learning in their area.

What initiative have you been most proud of?

Edd says they have started this year something which will have a huge impact on CPD – 360 Degree Teaching which is an online system developed in-house. he describes it as looking like a Trivial Pursuit board with each spoke a different aspect of teaching and learning. The member of staff begins in the middle and chooses which spoke they want to concentrate on first. Each spoke has different zones with a series of activities for example TED videos or reflective questions. Once a zone is completed, it releases the next zone or they can go to a different spoke.

Edd tells us the engagement and take up has been huge because it is personalised and it complements all the more ‘traditional’ CPD approaches which still carry on as well:

  • ‘Inspirational Learning Coaches’ – Advanced Practitioners
  • ‘Light Bites’ – short, sharp, high-intensity training sessions
  • Coaches

What are the most important changes you made at Weston to get to ‘Outstanding’?

A new quality team were put in place in September 2010 who simplified things – systems and processes and made it clear what the expectations were for different staff. This gave the organisation consistency.

The appointment of Advanced Practitioners also made a huge difference:

For the first time we had people staff could talk to on a daily basis about their practice.

Being in an area like Weston is an advantage

There are some deprived areas in and around Weston which provide an opportunity to the College to make a significant difference to the progress of those whose starting points are lower. There are challenges as well of course, like behaviour for learning which is a key focus for Weston.

What are the biggest challenges for FE providers in the coming year?

Area Review is a major topic for all FE providers in the coming year. The Government is looking to rationalise provision in FE in an area. Finance and quality of delivery are focussed on. As Weston is large, Edd thinks there are plenty of opportunities for them in the process. Another main focus for Weston is maintaining the Outstanding rating.

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