School leaders want to prioritise CPD, says new survey

School business leaders want to spend more time on their own professional development, according to OLP research

SBLs in England want to prioritise professional development and support of their staff despite budget worries and high workloads, according to a new survey from Outstanding Leaders Partnership (OLP).

80% of the 122 school leaders questioned in the survey plan to maintain or increase levels of CPD investment in their staff during the remainder of 2018.

Respondents also see their own professional development as important, with 94% saying they would benefit from additional support and professional development. 48% hoped to maintain investment in their own CPD during 2018, and almost 31% aim to increase it.

There are, of course, pressures creating a barrier. SBLs say that budget concerns, staff recruitment, well-being and retention and accountability make up the most pressing current challenges. The time taken up by leadership responsibilities mean that, for the majority of leaders, professional development and reflection takes a back seat; when asked to rank a list of leadership duties in order of the time they took up each day, respondents said that SEND, behaviour, well-being and safeguarding were the areas most commonly ranked.

At the other end of the scale, personal professional development and reflection were chosen by 66% of respondents as the duties they have the least time for.

The top three challenges leaders faced in the first months of headship, according to survey respondents, were pressure of accountability, the need for new skills and knowledge and different relationships with colleagues. Additional workload, managing external relationships and lack of a peer group were other common choices.

Sally Bishop, director of teaching school at West Hertfordshire Teaching School Partnership and chair of the OLP partnership board, said of these results:

“This survey presents us with a detailed picture of the challenges school leaders face today, particularly in areas such as key challenges, wellbeing and their professional development priorities and needs.

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“It is clear from these findings that school leaders are true to type – prioritising the needs of their pupils and staff first and tackling fundamental challenges such as budget and accountability pressures while putting their own CPD needs – however keenly sought – as a lower priority.

“The survey tells us what kinds of professional development and support school leaders want for their staff and for themselves to help them meet these challenges as effectively as possible, and this will help us to refine and develop our professional development programmes and school improvement services so that they continue helping leaders and their colleagues in their crucial work.”

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