The value of Continued Professional Development by Hayley Smith
2nd November 2017
In the ever-changing world of childcare and early years education, it is vital for practitioners to stay as up to date as possible with changes to policy or guidance. One of the best ways to do this is through continued professional development and exhibitions, such as the Childcare Expos, make this task much easier as they conveniently gather together such a range of services and professionals that merely attending the event itself is a way of continuing our professional development! In addition to this, the events can also signpost practitioners to a wealth of resources which can be used with colleagues back at the setting, such as printable information from websites or short online training courses.
Online training courses are my personal favourite as they can fit into any schedule and the interactive nature of most courses allows practitioners to consolidate their learning as they progress through the course. In my own personal experience, short bursts of focussed training equip practitioners with a high level of knowledge which can almost immediately be put into context within a setting. Having a good, up-to-date knowledge about various parts of everyday practice creates a confident and effective staff team. An effective staff team can provide the best outcomes for the children in their care and the best support for their families by being able to offer information and answer questions.
Inevitably there will be some professional development training which is tailored to specific roles within a setting such as the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or the Special Educational Needs CoOrdinator (SENCO). Whilst these training opportunities are aimed at specific individuals there are a wide variety of courses relating to more general areas of practice such as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum or Speech and Language Development. My personal feeling is that it is valuable for key practitioners to lead by example in relation to ongoing training and continued professional development. Where senior staff members are asking other members of staff to complete further training, it is important that those senior staff are also prepared to complete necessary training courses as appropriate.
There is a wealth of information and guidance available to early years practitioners, but the likelihood is that many individuals are unaware of such support and are, therefore, not accessing the resources. It is important that those individuals who are leading a team ensure that they seek out opportunities for continued professional development for themselves and their team.