Merry Christmas

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for reading Changing Horizons and I hope that you enjoy some of the new posts and sections of the website I will be launching in 2011.

All the best,
Martin

Education cuts and the future of CPD

The recent education cuts by the UK Government are well documented with the cuts appearing to be getting deeper, particularly in relation to higher education. But what does this mean for schools? Organisations such as Becta and Creative Partnerships have already been axed, the Primary National Strategies have been disbanded, Local Authorities are being massacred  and school budgets have been tightened. This has significant implications for continuous professional development (CPD) of teachers and schools’ workforce. Local Authorities are going to find it difficult to maintain the same level of CPD opportunities for staff after the cuts and the fact that the Primary National Strategies are being phased out makes this even harder.

Time For Change

Furthermore, schools are going to find it difficult to pay large sums of money to send staff on training courses operated by ‘professional’ CPD organisations. It is a fundamental right of teachers to have access to high quality CPD – the hint is in the ‘continuous’ part of CPD. But what options do schools now have with limited funding?

One such option is for schools to run their own CPD events and invite other schools to attend. I found that this worked particularly well for the Growing Greener Futures Conference last October. If a school organises its own CPD then it allows them to tailor it to their own needs as well as significantly reducing venue costs (if the event is held in the school itself). Our ‘conference fees’ simply covered the cost of catering and administration but if we had charged more we could have made a significant revenue which could have paid for more speakers. Conferences such as this can be funded solely by conference fees if managed correctly. Another successful approach is the TeachMeet ‘unconference’ model which has been very successful in recent years. This involves teachers and people who work in education volunteering to share their experiences with teaching and learning.

It is clear that CPD is going to have to change. What do you think is the best way forward?

Additional Note:
The Growing Greener Futures Conference included keynotes and workshops operated by outside speakers/professionals. All of the staff of the host school were delegates (apart from myself). I think this is mainly why the event was such a success and so beneficial to staff.

Visit The Land of Me… seriously

A world of creativity & learning for ages 2 and up (that includes you)…

I recently discovered The Land of Me by the fantastic company Made in Me. It is quite simply one of the most charming pieces of educational software I have ever come across.

The software is based around the idea of promoting children’s imagination and creativity. Hence the focus on ‘me’ and it being an epic journey through your imagination. The Land of Me literally comes to life before your eyes with characters such as Eric the Racoon, Buddy Boo the Bear and Willow the Owl. The animation (see above video) and attention to detail is outstanding from the lavish interactive map to the tiny ants that carry leaves through Bramble Wood and the Scottish accents of the Otters.
You can download the first chapter of the Land of Me for free here. The CD is currently £29.95 and a School Site License is only £153.15 (Excluding VAT). It is definitely worth a closer look.

Time for another Changing Horizon…

I have spent today completely re-designing this website. When I say re-designing I actually mean finding a decent template and then modifying it. It is something I have been meaning to do for a long time as I had become unhappy with the dark theme that I had installed previously. Most of the blogs that I enjoy reading have ‘light’ colour schemes and I decided that it was time my blog was themed in a similar way.

DSC_9941_Winter in Denmark

I have decided to re-focus this blog as a way of refecting on literacy, technology and life. I plan on having a Tumblr/Posterous like philosophy with a mix of short and long posts. One of the reasons I haven’t posted anything over the past couple of months is that I have found it very hard to fit writing into my (very) busy schedule. I hope that not expecting myself to write deeply academic posts all of the time will spur me on to write more and add more enjoyment to the process.

Thank you for all the messages and encouragement to get blogging again. Hopefully this blog refresh will help me to get back into the routine and enjoyment of writing.