Tupton Hall School purchased The National College’s Whole School Membership in September 2019.

Drawing on their previous positive experience with our resources, they decided to make our expert-led video CPD available for all their staff.

We spoke with Amanda Neville, Senior Assistant Headteacher – Learning, Teaching & Staff Development, to learn about her experience with The National College, and how our readily available content has benefited her school.

Why did you choose The National College?

Myself and and another Senior Assistant Headteacher (who is the Designated Safeguarding Lead) had independently accessed different modules last year, as a way to quickly get updates on safeguarding, teaching and learning. We had both found them useful, easy to access and informative. Being able to access training at school, home or on our mobiles made everything very simple.

Having informally quality assured the resource, when a reduced rate for whole school membership was made in September 2019, we saw this as a cost-effective way of offering this provision to our whole school community.

We then worked with The National College to set up all our staff (teaching and non-teaching) as users and disseminated details around gaining access to the website and the relevant CPD.

When we went into lockdown, then your resources really came into their own. As all staff were already set up as users, etc. – it was just a case of re-launching. I reviewed the ‘Essential CPD’ element and selected modules that would initially support our SCR profile, which would then hopefully inspire staff to access more than just the essential modules.

What package did you purchase and how did you find these?

We have school membership.

Initially this was based purely upon finances – I felt that being a big school, the overall cost/head was quite cost effective compared to courses offering similar products. It also meant that staff could access everything independently – therefore not requiring me to authorise each CPD request.

Similarly, it is vital staff have ownership of their own CPD and don’t just view it as something “done to them”. For CPD to have impact, it is important participants engage with it as part of their own professional development.

What I hadn’t factored in, as the school administrator for the site, is that I can reset passwords (very useful!) and see which modules have been accessed. Staff don’t have to email me copies of certificates of completion, I can access this all centrally. Exporting evidence for our SCR portfolio and school wide CPD records is relatively simple.

Following lockdown, all login details were re-issued and all staff (teaching and non-teaching) were directed to key modules; therefore ensuring staff were accessing the most CPD.

How have you found the service from the National College?

The online chat is great – even out of hours I know that whatever I have requested gets actioned as soon as someone is available. The initial set up was simple too.

How much of a benefit have The National College’s resources been to you and your school?

To me personally and to other key members of SLT they have been very useful.

They provide us with valuable updates in a quick and accessible way. I think lots of staff have acknowledged the Essential CPD modules are preferable to a whole staff session in our school hall for 2 hours at the end of a busy school day. Such sessions don’t usually get great reviews, but the online modules appear to have done so.

One member of staff contacted me to see if it was OK for him to complete some of the other modules as he was trying to “future proof” himself for the next phase of his career.

I plan to suggest further modules as lockdown continues.

We also offer a number of School Direct training placements. Once they are officially registered as trainees, I plan to give them access to the site to enable them to engage with key CPD modules that will help them as student teachers.

As Senior Mentor to students, I can see this being used as a resource to support their in-school training – particularly when we don’t know with the same level of clarity, what their training year will look like.

We’ve partnered with industry and education experts to deliver our webinars – how important is it to you that the information you are getting is 100% accurate?

Absolutely vital, particularly if the information is being used by SLT to help provide strategic direction for school improvement. It’s important it doesn’t become “another blog”.

As busy senior leaders, we need hard facts and evidence-based information – which we can use to inform our decision making.

If you could draw one positive from The National College’s resources, what would it be?

Accessibility – as lots of the webinars can be listened to, I do tend to listen to them whilst doing something else. I have been known to listen to updates in the bath or in the car.

Again as a busy senior leader – time is critical. Most of your presenters are really engaging to listen to – so it makes sense to make the most of this aspect of the training.

How much of a benefit has the ability to undertake courses and training on an online platform, in your own time been?

Seven weeks in, I have engaged in numerous online CPD events, meetings, even appointing new staff. This recent era has made me look differently at what can be achieved online.

Given the current situation it has also meant I can continue to direct our staff to appropriate CPD, which I can track through the admin side of the website. It’s important our staff have the ability to continue to grow and develop during this period of lockdown, not just our students.

I know I will need to have our staff ready to hit the ground running when we return. With so much evidence indicating the disadvantaged will be even more disadvantaged – high quality teaching and learning is going to be critical in supporting us properly to address this.

Underpinning this is high quality CPD, ensuring everyone is suitably ready and equipped.

A school leader’s’ time is precious so, with this in mind, how much of a positive has it been to have all of the latest statutory guidance and policy changes updated by ourselves?

Very useful. Having used the site increasingly over the past few weeks, I think I will now use it even more to search for topics. I also like how we can suggest areas – particularly in the current climate, as everyone is trying to solve the same issues, and wrestle with same Government documentation.

What has been your staff’s reaction and feedback to using our platform and enhancing their own personal development?

Following lockdown, one of the first emails I sent in with respect to staff development was in relation to staff engaging with the Essential CPD element of the platform.

Once the majority were up and running, usage increased significantly. Admittedly, the vast majority have just completed the directed modules, but following conversations lots of staff have looked around the site to see what other CPD opportunities they can access.

The best outcomes have been non-teaching staff. Quite often they miss after school CPD sessions as they are usually targeted at teachers. When I set this up I made it clear this was open to everyone working in the school, as we all need to engage in regular CPD. The most positive conversations I have had have been with support staff, and how they have really enjoyed the modules.

Furthermore, how much of a benefit has it been to not have to arrange supply cover, which you would have had to have in the event of a staff member(s) being away on a training course?

This was how we originally came across the platform, as me and another Senior Assistant Headteacher didn’t want to be out of school. By accessing the webinars either live or afterwards, we could do so from our offices. We were still available if needed, but also knew we could review the resource at a later stage if we needed further clarification.

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