Questioning the quality
When I worked in schools my professional development was hit or miss. There was no coherent programme, workshops were usually one-offs, and little attention was paid by my managers to what I had learnt or how it could transform my – or the school’s – practice.
The quality of the professional development was hit or miss too. Some trainers were excellent and full of practical ideas to take away; others were dull or wasted my time. Scant school resources were being invested with an inconsistent return.
At Cambridge, we believe that good quality training and reflective practice are essential parts of a teacher’s professional life. We believe that if we support teachers in their continuing development this will, in turn, lead to improved student outcomes. We want to provide as many opportunities as we can for teachers to attend training events that meet their needs and are good value for money.
We also believe in assuring high-quality training for our schools and have instituted in the last couple of years an enhanced programme of trainer recruitment, management and development. Every new trainer goes through a rigorous selection and training process. We are also in the process of observing all of our experienced trainers to continuously monitor standards.
Training the trainers
Training teachers requires special skills – there are many similarities but it is not the same as teaching students. Adult learners have particular demands, motivations and expectations, they are not always easy to manage and they may not be in the habit of receiving ideas or instruction from others. Not everyone has what it takes to stand up in front of a group and run a coherent workshop but we are discovering many talented Cambridge teachers around the world who tick all the boxes.
To meet the demand for professional development we have been widening our pool of trainers. We have been doing this not only in the UK but in selected regions of the world. This enables us to bring training closer to our schools and to appreciate better the local context. We maintain the same high-quality standards wherever we go and whichever trainers we invite to run workshops.
All trainers regardless of their location are offered their own opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD). New trainers attend a mentored online video shadowing course, during which they observe a real trainer and reflect on what they think is good about the way the session was conducted and what they think could have been done better. New trainers may also request support from an experienced mentor to help them work towards the delivery of their first workshop.
For all trainers, new or experienced, we offer a wide range of online resources on a dedicated CPD site. We also invite them to attend conferences to learn about how to improve their practice, to share ideas and resources with each other, or to compare experiences of what it is like to work in particular countries. Our trainers travel regularly together and many become good friends. Our trainer network across the world is both sharing and caring.
Setting the standard
The next time you attend a Cambridge training event we hope that it will be a ‘hit’ rather than a ‘miss’. If you choose the workshop that should best meet your needs, our aim is that you will be satisfied the materials used were of the same standard as those you would find in a similar workshop anywhere in the world, that your trainer, whether they were from the UK or from the region where you live, gave an assured performance, and that you will return to your school full of ways to transform learning.