“What if we give all our staff great training, and they leave?”
“What if we don’t, and they stay?”
I first read the above dialogue when studying for an MBA several years ago. It is easy to see why it appeared in my textbooks, as in a few words it illustrates the importance of high quality training – despite the ‘risks’ – for any organisation. Training in schools can be diverse in nature. Sometimes statutory (for example child protection training), sometimes technical (using interactive whiteboards etc.), sometimes pedagogical (working with gifted and talented students, for instance), but always important and always focussed on moving John Taylor High School closer to its aims and its vision.
Training, both initial teacher training (ITT) and for staff and governors already working in schools (whether described as INSET – in-service training, or CPD – continuing professional development) is of critical importance to us, and will be at the heart of our work as a National Teaching School.
I chose to write about this topic this month for several reasons. First, before the Easter holidays, staff at John Taylor worked long beyond their contracted hours on a Training Day. With only five designated days in the academic year (far fewer than in some countries held up as exemplary systems by the government), such dedicated time is precious, and staff at the school will squeeze every last drop of learning they can from them. Much of our training is in-house, which is not only cost-effective (very important in difficult economic times), but also provides fantastic experience for staff as deliverers as well as recipients of training. Second, as a guest speaker at the Education Show at the NEC in Birmingham last month, I was reacquainted with the pressures and privilege of delivering training to fellow educators. Third, next week I will attend three days of training at the National College for Teaching and Leadership to support the work the school will undertake as a National Teaching School and I will embark upon as a National Leader of Education. Three days away from our busy school is a commitment not made lightly, but it is a worthwhile investment in getting it right as we begin to implement our programmes in earnest from September. Training is investment, and its value transfers to those who receive it, making them in turn feel valued.
I’m sure we all appreciate that the best teachers are those who see themselves still as learners. Whether it is new technologies, new teaching ideas, new syllabi and assessments, or a new curriculum, the staff at John Taylor embrace training as a way to improve their own ability to deliver outstanding outcomes to the students and their families that we serve. Those five days that our parents mark on their calendars are certainly every bit as rigorous as the 190 teaching days that they support.
Whether the dialogue from my MBA textbook ever really took place is unclear. Some attribute it to the CEO of Motorola in discussion with a colleague from Human Resources, but this is certainly far from universally-recognised despite its plausibility. Whether factually accurate or not, the sentiment is one I share: the worst that happens, is an education professional from John Taylor uses the benefit of their exceptional training with other young people in another context. Across the wider system of schools and training, we stand to benefit in the same way as we contribute. Many staff arrive at John Taylor having become highly-effective practitioners through training opportunities at other schools. As a National Teaching School, there is even greater scope to work collaboratively with a range of schools, other partners, and training organisations to make our staff development even more exceptional, the prospect of which we are all looking forward to.
Thanks for reading.