Towards the ends of the last school year, I decided to get a little better organised in how I record my participation in CPD. I opened a new Google Doc and, presented with a blank page, my mind began to explore what exactly constitutes ‘continuing professional development’. Rather quickly, I had filled most of a page and created several subheadings although not all of the information there would necessarily be seen as CPD in the most traditional sense.

The File

The problem came when I was asked by my line manager to give him the details of my CPD for ‘the file’. I was eager to present my page of everything I deemed relevant but ‘the file’ had other ideas: date, venue, course title. One line. No details. Job done. Thank you very much. Come back again next year.

“I’ve been on a course… the lunch was good”

It’s disheartening that so many people’s first comment before attending a course is their expectations about the quality of the lunch to be provided. This is then compounded after the event when their first comment is about the reality of the quality of the lunch provided. They feel they were sent to the course to tick a box (for ‘the file’), that CPD was done to them, and they are now safe for another year.


I’m not pushing for a name change for the sake of a name change, but I believe too many teachers’ perception of what CPD comprises has been distorted by expensive (but not directly relevant) courses and inflexible record forms.

In my mind I have reinterpreted CPD to mean Continuing Professional Engagement, and ask myself “What have I done this year that demonstrates I continue to engage with my subject and its teaching?”. The headings I settled on for my log were:

  • Courses and Meetings – this includes MOOCs, courses and meetings organised by the FMSP and the NCETM, hub meetings etc I’ve even made reference to #mathscpdchat discussions
  • Contributions in school – including trips and subject-related enrichment activities, collaboration with colleagues (eg helping with subject-specific software), work on developing the subject’s presence on the VLE, ordering new books for the library etc
  • Contributions outside of school – meetings that I’ve organised, revision sessions I’ve run as a FMSP associate etc
  • Relevant reading – any books that I’ve read related to mathematics, its teaching, or indeed teaching and learning in general

I appreciate that some of these areas would be covered in an annual appraisal but, in my mind at least, they are all connected and they evidence my engagement with mathematics and its teaching.

Think, Pair, Share

What does CPD mean to you? To your manager? To your school? How is it recorded and for what purpose? Why do you undertake it?

What do you think of the label ‘continuing professional engagement’?

If you could make a choice between attending a course, studying a MOOC, reading a relevant book, or attending a subject-specific meeting, or any other means by which you engage with your subject, which would be your preferred choice?


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