School Funding & Teachers' CPD

How austerity is changing teachers' Professional Learning

Innovation through necessity

There has been a lot in the news recently across the UK about cuts to education funding in real terms. In Wales a number of council leaders have written open letters to Welsh Government decrying the cut in money councils will be receiving and therefore will have available to spend on schools.

When there are budget cuts for schools, there is also less money for professional learning. It's a fact. Unfortunately, this comes when schools and teachers in Wales are in the midst of enormous educational reform. Teachers in Wales need professional learning and support, more now than ever. Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education, has said herself at a recent conference run by the NAHT that high quality CPD is integral to the success of the new curriculum & that she is acutely aware of the need to support teacher development, but stopped short of announcing any further funding.

So, how are schools and teachers coping?

More and more schools are doing it themselves. This is partly due to the decrease in funding but also largely in response to the expectation that schools in Wales are now part of a self-improving system. What's worrying though, is the self-improving system was never intended to be purely D-I-Y Professional Learning. Dr. Chris Brown Professor of Education at the University of Portsmouth describes the self-improving system as:

"teachers collaboratively engaging in evidence-informed practice to improve teaching and learning."

Which seems easy enough until you consider how you ensure that the strategies you are trialling are based on the most robust evidence and are right for the pupils you teach. Finding and accessing the research that underpins evidence-informed practice is a minefield. Educational research often sits behind a paywall and it can be difficult to accurately evaluate the usefulness of research for your context.

This is why England have introduced research-schools, who serve not only as a source of research-informed practice but also provide support to schools to get started on this process, generally for a fee. In Wales each regional consortia have a number of schools providing support for teachers, but our system here in Wales has less structure and lacks a clear quality assurance process that the research school network in England has.

Over the last 3 years we have seen the popularity of our sketchnotes rocket in Wales. Time poor teachers need user-friendly, easy to access but reliable sources of professional learning that can serve as the starting point for their in school professional learning. Schools need whatever resources or support they spend their ever decreasing money on to have real, lasting impact. We know that the best schools are creating INSET tasks, discussion sessions and classroom trials based on our sketchnotes and that they are having a real impact on teachers’ professional expertise and pupil outcomes. We also know that the very best schools are using the research links we provide on our sketchnotes to complete follow-up reading & share key further information with staff for real lasting impact.

We believe the future of professional learning in Wales is bespoke self-initiated & collaborative learning, underpinned by robust, reliable research. So, we have created Professional Learning Sketchnote Packs at a fraction of the cost of in-school support to help schools use research effectively to build their school into a community of self-improving professionals.

To find out more about what our Professional Learning Sketchnote Packs include & how to access them, just click the link:

A Little More About Us

Who are we? - We are Finola & Jane, Literacy & Numeracy specialists, with 35+ years of teaching, training & leadership experience between us.

What's our experience? - We have both worked for Welsh Government supporting schools & senior leaders across Wales. We have held senior leadership posts, delivered support to strategic education advisers, both hold school governor posts and have published curriculum support guidance with Oxford University Publishing...but if you need to know more visit our website for testimonials from schools we've worked with.

Why should you book our support? - Put simply, because we believe in impact. We do exactly what our name suggests. Our workshop keeps things simple and ensures school actions really work. Our focus is always on delivering measurable impact for pupils