Leadership is critical at this point: the onus is on leaders to enable teachers to take part in CPD, setting it as a priority for staff and giving them dedicated time for learning. If leaders make space for it to happen, teachers are much more likely to engage authentically with activities which develop their skills and competencies, enabling them to do their jobs more effectively which, in turn, will improve confidence and boost wellbeing. Leaders can also encourage staff to prioritise learning how to tackle workload pressure itself with techniques such as smart marking and planning techniques.
In the medium term, professional development can strengthen staff confidence in their skills and abilities, confirming that they are ‘doing a good job’ and making progress in developing their practice. As such, it can help ease perceptions of workload – the work may be less overwhelming when you feel you are doing a good job!
A straightforward example here is behaviour management which can create a significant workload burden for teachers and increase stress and anxiety, with the knock-effects of exacerbating fatigue and undermining wellbeing. Professional learning to address issues around behaviour management can boost confidence, reduce the stress associated with self-doubt, rekindle motivation and enhance wellbeing.
Beyond such individual issues, leaders of some schools have chosen to put CPD at the centre of performance management and appraisal, shifting from formal objectives based around data and instead focusing on professional growth. Staff become individually accountable for the constant improvement in their practice – so their sense of autonomy is increased – and it reduces the bureaucracy associated with appraisals.