outcomes expected as a result of inspection processes and government demands. Yet personal and professional development is essential for a successful school and happy and fulfilled individuals.
I like to refer to any development of an individual as part of ‘Whole Life Development’ (WLD). Learning and growing should never stop and for many of us, we often participate in activities that provide us with new knowledge or experiences but perhaps don’t always see the benefit to our current job.
There are three tiers of WLD and each is important for getting the best out of individuals and teams.
Tier one is concerned with training related directly to the current job of an individual. This may include developing knowledge of marking and tracking schemes, attending courses for successful delivery of ICT in the classroom or learning how to deliver a new scheme of work. These courses and opportunities for learning and development help the school to maintain their position at the coal face and may allow schools to bring new innovations into their classrooms. Sharing knowledge gained by individuals who have completed training allows the whole staff to learn and develop. The obvious knock on effect is that children are experiencing fresh ideas and progressive curriculums that enable them to learn and develop within the framework of a modern educational system.
Embracing training and development also lets staff feel valued and this in turn breeds loyalty and morale increases. Staff moving on to better roles is a good thing and allows for new blood and fresh perspectives to fill the voids left behind, thus preventing schools from becoming stale working environments.
The final tier is concerned with an individual’s own personal development. This may be linked to their current career but often is about developing their mind in other ways. Hobbies may fit neatly in to this category or perhaps training in fields beyond education that may result in an alternative career. How can this benefit an organisation if it is purely for the enjoyment and satisfaction of an individual? Morale. It is never to be underestimated but is so often overlooked. People, and perhaps especially teachers, need time to switch off from the daily grind of their jobs, they need to be encouraged to explore life beyond the four walls of the classroom, otherwise the job may become all-consuming.
A progressive school seeks to provide its staff with the tools to do the job, supports its employees in advancing their career and ensures that work/life balances are embraced by all.
In my current school, I have introduced opportunities for staff to experience training in Leadership and Management skills. The staff are all incredibly busy and the children are in our care until 5pm every day. However, the course has proved very popular, with many staff giving up their own free time in an evening to attend multiple sessions. The thirst for progression and new knowledge is clearly there but opportunities have not always presented themselves. Staff feedback has been incredibly positive, they feel valued and have freely shared their experiences and thoughts during the process. This has allowed me to review certain school practices and assist departments as they strive to deliver quality education. Staff are now looking for further opportunities and I shall certainly be building on these training sessions and offering up more internal courses.
We are in the business of education and that should always include ourselves. The day we think we know everything and have done everything, is the day we should perhaps hang up our hats and retire. The world of education is constantly evolving and it is only right that we allow our staff to do the same. This will allow our schools to be energetic and vibrant places to work, which in turn translates to a far better education for the students we care deeply about.