by Charlotte Hacking, Learning Programme Leader
The end of the Autumn Term is a time for teachers and leaders to take stock and reflect. To step back and consider what in the first term has worked well in terms of impact on pupils and their progress and what needs to be built upon in the rest of the year to enable each and every one of our children to continue to make progress.
The CLPE was founded in 1970, by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) with a specific aim to provide ‘a new approach to in-service education’ and began offering long courses to primary teachers, enabling them to examine their own classroom practice in the light of research in language and literacy. Nearly fifty years on we still believe that the best teachers are learners, and that professional development means reflective, career-long learning that is built up over time. This belief remains key to all that we do at the CLPE and there is a secure and growing evidence base that this is the most effective form of transforming practice in schools.
This particular new academic year also brought with it a new Education Inspection Framework from Ofsted. This framework has prompted schools to reflect on their curriculum, the impact that curriculum has on all pupils and the subject knowledge that is needed to implement it effectively. The framework talks about the importance of leaders having a ‘focus on improving staff’s subject, pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge to enhance the teaching of the curriculum and the appropriate use of assessment.’ Schools are asked to demonstrate how the ‘practice and subject knowledge of staff are built up and improve over time.’
As a subject specialist organisation, we aim to provide a place and space where effective practice in the teaching and learning of English can be investigated, developed and evaluated, drawing on the most recent and relevant research from across the educational landscape. This kind of depth of learning is most successfully achieved in our programme of long courses. These take place over 4 days across the academic year, with gaps in between to allow teachers as learners to reflect, try out, assess and build their knowledge of what works and what is most effective in raising engagement and attainment.
Each of our long courses have a specific area of focus, so teachers can explore the most recent and relevant research into different areas of the English curriculum and investigate the practice and provision that will impact on pupil engagement and progress.
Developing the Role of the English Subject Leader focusses on developing, refining and leading a strong vision and curriculum for English throughout a primary School, and on monitoring the effectiveness of this vision and curriculum on the quality of practice and provision in classrooms and the impact on pupils' learning.
Raising Achievement in Writing develops teachers' knowledge of how to develop high quality writing provision across the key stages that will enable all pupils to make progress and to write with a greater depth of independence and flair. The course will focus on how to improve the quality of transcription and composition, including the context embedded teaching of phonics, spelling and grammar.
Language and Grammar in a Rich Reading Curriculum explores the impact of language competency on children’s knowledge, understanding and application of grammatical concepts and terminology. During the course teachers are supported to plan authentic writing opportunities where children can show depth of understanding, make controlled writing choices appropriate to purpose, audience and form and therefore write at greater depth.
The Power of Reading develops participants’ knowledge about quality children’s literature and how to build an English curriculum with a range of texts at the heart. The course emphasises the importance of engaging children in reading for purpose and pleasure as well as introducing creative pedagogical approaches which engage children in the literacy curriculum and raise their attainment in reading and writing. The Power of Reading supports schools to nurture a whole school love of reading and writing with a canon of quality literature at its heart.
All these long courses start in January, an ideal time for teachers and leaders to have a secure understanding of the progress and achievement of their current cohorts and the key areas for development. Each course is taught by our expert, specialist teaching team, who have all been leaders in a school. They support teachers to focus on specific areas for improvement and to shape a case study that allows them to investigate, develop, refine and evaluate pedagogy and practice and its impact on children’s learning. Teachers can choose a targeted area such as improving the teaching of phonics and spelling or something broader like improving reading environments, or children’s choice and voice in writing throughout the school.
We understand that school budgets are stretched this year. We know that 4 days of professional development is an investment, but it is an investment in leading learning throughout a school that will reap enormous rewards in the development of practice and impact on pupil progress. We know from 50 years of working as a centre of excellence for professional development that sustained improvement programmes where teachers have the opportunity to learn, reflect and develop understanding are the most effective way to ensure that teachers have the depth of knowledge and understanding about what works and the increased confidence to lead and sustain change in their schools and classrooms.
But you don’t need to take our word for it, read one of the blogs written by teachers who have been on the courses to see just how much impact these longer programmes have
‘You only need to consider how many teachers come back to CLPE to get a flavour of how well regarded they are. A number of colleagues that I’ve chatted to said that their school spent its entire CPD budget with CLPE, because it was the only external training that was worthwhile. Even in these times of straitened circumstances, we can’t afford not to have places like CLPE and the beacon of hope and excellence that their training offers.’