What constitutes effective CPD for Primary Music Teachers?


I recently read with interest the emerging findings of the Teacher Development Trust research review, ‘Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development.’ As a registered provider on the Teacher Development Trust’s Good CPD Guide website our CPD offer already has much in common with the TDT’s philosophy, so I found the results of this review pleasantly affirming!

The key finding of this latest review was that ‘professional development opportunities that are carefully designed and have a strong focus on pupil outcomes have a significant impact on student achievement.’ I have no argument with this, however it did get me thinking about the nature of CPD for primary music, and whether this might be a little different from other subjects?

I agree of course that CPD should focus on pupil outcomes and impact on student achievement, otherwise really what is the point?! Our own CPD courses have a strong focus on pupil progression in the various skill areas for music, with action learning project ideas and follow up support offered as standard. However, we are also often called upon to provide INSET sessions and longer-term in-school teacher support projects (which we term ‘Realtime CPD’) where the immediate focus is not on the pupils but on the teachers, in terms of their own level of skill and confidence to teach music.

When we are dealing with generalist primary teachers, who have no musical background and have had very little music training during ITE, is it possible to start from the basis of pupil outcomes, or do we need to take a step back and deal with the development of the teacher first? Is there a basic ‘PD’ level required before we can put the ‘C’ into CPD?

Elizabeth Stafford

Director, Music Education Solutions Ltd

August 2015

MES provides half-day and one-day courses nationwide for primary, secondary and instrumental teachers, all of which include a free follow-on support structure, designed to embed the ideas from the day into teachers’ practice.

We also provide in-house INSET sessions and extended ‘Realtime CPD’ projects for schools and music education hubs, designed in conjunction with the client to ensure that they meet teachers’ needs.

As CPD Centre West Midlands (a partnership between MES & TEA), we also provide more extended, formal CPD through the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators. This qualification takes up to 2 years to complete, and focuses on developing the teacher as a reflective practitioner with a clear understanding of subject-specific pedagogy and how to put this into practice.

In April 2016, we will be announcing a brand new suite of extended CPD projects for generalist and specialist primary teachers, which will use blended learning and action research to raise pupil attainment in music. Watch this space!