Continuing Professional Development and Learning – To Prove or Improve, that is the question! banner


Continuing Professional Development and Learning – To Prove or Improve, that is the question!

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With approximately £21 billion spent on Leadership Development programmes annually, you would think leaders would be more effective at implementing continuing professional development and learning (CPDL) for their teams…but they are not!

As CPDL budgets are  shrinking as pressures on spending and investment mount, it is becoming even more imperative that organisations get value for money from their investment.

Over 25 years of education leadership I have lost count of the number of times I have paid for training or learning programmes for members of my team and made the usual enquiry ‘How was the….’ to be met with a response of ‘OK, I handed my certificate in when I got back’ or ‘OK, the lunch was amazing’  We all know that food motivates everyone, (that is perhaps the theme of another blog), but the presentation of a certificate simply indicates attendance and compliance and therefore just proves that the event took place and someone attended. This level of proof, – in education it maybe a statutory requirement around safeguarding or PREVENT for example -  is unlikely to deliver sustainable improvement and make a difference to the success of the organisation (however you measure success).

So, if we focus on a 30:70 split between compliance and proving against supportive development and improving; what might some of the key considerations be for an effective programme?

Culture – how does your organisation embody a culture of continuous self-improvement and an ethos that all staff, regardless of their role, are encouraged to be better?  Not because they are currently not very good at their job but because we can and should all strive to be better than we are. Do leaders model this by investing in their own development and being honest and transparent about that?

Quality – supporting team members to invest their time in CPDL in line with organisational culture involves winning hearts and minds and takes effort. So how do we guarantee the investment is in a quality provider and a quality offer?  Do we spend time making enquiries with professionals in the same sector about their experiences of a delivery partner?

Strategy – giving quality time to develop a CPDL Strategy which is then shared supports the expenditure, identifies organisational priorities and ensures that the offer is spread out to identify time and support meta-cognitive processes. Who takes responsibility for that strategy?

Key Performance Indicators – how do we identify the success of our CPDL strategy through creative and people focussed KPIs? Improvement in organisational performance, a successful people strategy around recruitment, retention and well-being will be a key test of the CPDL strategy.  How do we collect the evidence for our success?

Right Type – evidence suggests that if people see the relevance in CPDL they are much more likely to invest in their own development. Across teams, organisations will have a wide variety of experience, learning and professional qualifications and life skills; identifying these to inform an individual’s professional learning journey is crucial to determine not only  the content but the type of activity they are engaging with.  Developing a culture of self-improvement might suggest we separate any type of performance review from engagement in CPDL so, how do we collect the evidence of what would be appropriate for each individual to make our offer bespoke and relevant?

All of these operational and organisational considerations are key to effective investment in CPDL but as leaders do we really understand the how of learning to be able to determine these elements?

If you are interested in improving the outcomes of your staff investment then join us in Humber Business Week at the Rollits event “Embracing Excellence on Tuesday 5 June 1400 to see what you can learn!

Book your place now and see how you can empower your workforce through continuous development and lifelong learning.


Sarah Young- Young+

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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