This week I’m off to the Music and Drama Expo in London. This is a huge event delivering tailored CPD to music and drama teachers for free! You would have thought that this would be a no brainier for music teachers, with schools falling over themselves to get their staff to attend. With speakers from all areas of music education, this is a great way to inspire and enthuse teaching staff.
And yet, In 15 years of teaching, I have never attended this event. And in a Facebook post this week I saw many other music teachers bemoaning the fact that they are also not attending.
“I am not allowed out of school”.
Why is CPD so undervalued by our Senior Managers? In an occupation where learning, progress and personal development are the most important factors, this rarely seems to apply to staff. We are often subjected to “whole school” CPD on topics such as behaviour, or perhaps the latest craze in assessment, but rarely do we seem to be encouraged to go out and learn more about the delivery of our own subject.
So this week I’ve been thinking about different ways that we can access CPD. Try to plan these into next year’s calendar and request permission as early as possible.
Music conferences, such as the Expo, are a fantastic source of learning, but also a great opportunity to network. For teachers who work in one-person departments, this is super valuable, as it is easy to run low on inspiration without others to bounce ideas off. Look online to see if there are local conferences, perhaps run by your music hub or a local music provider, such as arts organisations in your area.
There are a variety of online learning resources available for self-paced home study. For instance, when I typed ‘Sibelius Training Courses’ into Google at least 5 ‘certified’ courses came up, such as This one from Avid. If you incorporate this as one of your performance management targets then you can get your school to pay for it too.
Platforms such as Udemy host a huge variety of courses from using music technology to playing the Ukelele.
My own music teachers’ membership will soon be offering monthly online CPD as well as teaching resources. Find out more about the Mighty musical Membership by clicking here.
With the current funding crisis in UK schools, it is difficult to persuade management that you may need a day away from your classroom in order to improve your teaching or subject knowledge. In some cases, I have known the cost of a day’s cover to be taken from the department budget! There is also the added problem of transport costs and logistics, as the training may not necessarily be near to you.
However, if you can wrangle a day out there are some great CPD days for exam specifications, run by the exam boards. If you are teaching a new spec this is surely invaluable, to hear advice from the mouth of the markers. Check the website for the board to see what training is coming up. Other companies such as Musical Futures and Music Education Solutions also provide training. Local arts organisations may offer CPD too, just check their websites for more information
If your budget stands at £0 there are still ways to improve your knowledge. The National Association for Music Educators has published a Reading List For Music Educators, which includes texts on many different aspects of teaching and learning. Or ask for reading recommendations in a Facebook group.
Choose a topic of your own and plan a research project. Is there something that confuses or mystifies you, that you would really like to learn about this year? Start by writing down 3 questions that you want to answer, then come up with research routes.
Collaborate with other local schools. You may be allowed an afternoon to visit another music department, or if not, you could arrange to do this after school one afternoon, perhaps in your Department Meeting slot. It is highly likely that other local music teachers will have entirely different experiences and skillsets, so you can really learn from and inspire each other.
For those of you with a local music hub, find out about everything that they offer. I have received some excellent free CPD from hubs on subjects such as Choir Warmups and even Working With Peri Teachers. It is well worth finding out what they are offering and signing up to as much as possible. This is also another great opportunity to network as they are based in your local country or area.
Have a look at this list of 100 Curriculum Ideas for some inspiration and receive a new resource every week in your inbox!
So CPD doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge day out (although we all love a reason to be out in the world occasionally!!!). There are ways to access training from the comfort of your own sofa if you do your research. As a little challenge for your planning for next year, try to incorporate 3 different types of CPD into your programme. Commit yourself to your personal development and never stop learning.