Speed Dating CPD

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Is your school professional development drab and dreary?

For the past 18 months, I’ve been championing ‘speed-dating‘ as an alternative mechanism for staff professional development sessions. It’s not a silver bullet, nor is it a gimmick, but as an idea for bringing staff together to talk about teaching, it works! Staff love it – and the outcome is great classroom ideas – ‘voted in’ by staff – for your school to roll-out and adapt.

This is a guest post written by Nicky Phillips, after she trialled the idea in her school in Exeter.

Do you need help from above?

  • Do you have a staff training day looming on the calendar?
  • Is your staff morale at an all-time low?
  • Are you looking for a cheaper and medium-term solution for CPD?
  • Something that  actually works?

As a group of Lead Practitioners at St James School in Exeter, we were asked to lead professional development sessions for the whole teaching body! (Gulp! I could already feel my heart pounding with the nerves …)

shutterstock_289693910 the guy is on his knees and prays to God

“Thank you!”

Image: Shutterstock

Speed-dating. Bring and brag! Call it what you will, this will transform staff CPD sessions!

Ready to go!

As anyone would, when looking for fresh ideas for the classroom, I turned to the internet and one of my favourite blogs soon came up trumps – Te@acher Toolkit! The idea of speed-dating isn’t new for language teachers – often used to prepare students for speaking exams – and using this idea to lead a whole-staff training session after a long day at school, seemed a brilliant opportunity!

All the resources are ready-made on the Te@cher Toolkit website – even music is suggested to help motivate – and so, before half-term we started to advertise the session. We asked all teachers to ‘think of an idea they use in the classroom’ which they could share with other teachers (in just 30 seconds)! As soon as the email and flyers were posted, staff started talking about it!

Conversations about behaviour management, starters, assessment for learning and using apps on devices were being shared – and this was even before the CPD session had started!

Fast Forward >>

Fast-forward – after the CPD session – when normally we see all staff rushing off home, every member of staff started filling out the feedback form and proposing new ideas and winners (they were £50 worth of prizes and this definitely helped). The feedback was incredible and I have included some of them below. Without exception, staff who provided feedback (90% of staff) made the following comments:

  • What went well? “Everything! It was fun, inspiring and refreshing to talk with colleagues.”
  • Even better if?: “If we had more time to listen to more ideas!”

As an unexpected reward, I received ‘Hero of the Week’. The staff received a pile of fresh ideas and the students got the same the very next day! Thank you Te@cher Toolkit, from everyone at St James!

This is a guest post written by Nicky Phillips – Lead Practitioner of MFL at St James School, Exeter.


@TeacherToolkit logo new book Vitruvian man TT


In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

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