What is Professional Development?


Dr Elizabeth Stafford explores themes from Unit 3 of the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators.

Professional development is the means by which you maintain your skills and knowledge relating to your professional role once your initial training is completed. Whether you have a PhD in Education, or no formal qualifications at all, you will still need to keep learning throughout your career if you are going to continue to teach effectively. This process is known as Continuing Professional Development, or CPD.

Professional development is particularly important in education because theories, practices and resources are constantly changing. In the music education sector there has for example been a recent shift towards teaching instruments in whole classes and/or large groups. Those teachers who only had experience of teaching individual lessons had to undertake professional development to learn how to manage larger groups, and how to structure and differentiate their pupils’ learning. For classroom based practitioners, the national curriculum for music changed in September 2014, to include the requirement to teach staff notation at KS2 level. For those primary teachers who did not already read music, professional development was required to gain the skills needed to teach this part of the curriculum.

People often think of professional development as going on a course or attending an INSET session provided by their employer, but there are many different types of professional development. Reading a textbook, undertaking internet research, observing other teachers, having discussions with colleagues, engaging in Twitter chats, and trying different ideas out in the classroom are all valid forms of professional development. Sometimes, music educators neglect their professional development due to perceived barriers such as cost, time and loss of income, but selecting one of these alternative forms of professional development can overcome these barriers.

When selecting professional development options, music educators should always consider the potential impact on their teaching. It can be very interesting to attend courses exploring new resources or approaches, but for maximum effect, professional development options should be selected based on issues and ideas arising from reflective practice.

More information on professional development can be found in Unit 3 of the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators: Reflective Practice and Professional Development in Music Education. You can also find details of Music Education Solutions® full range of publicly available professional development options here.