Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the term used for a framework of learning and development activities – which contribute to an individual’s continued effectiveness as a professional and in some cases volunteers. It’s also called lifelong learning, although CPD is more commonly used. This is because CPD involves more than just taking courses and passively receiving information.
So as well as refresher courses and accredited training it includes taking part in much less structured, more job-related activities such as mentoring, reading and research, attending conferences and seminars, and observing other professionals. Anything, in fact that can help to increase and sustain knowledge and skills.
The “continuing” part of professional development is important for practitioners from all art forms – because learning does not simply stop once a formal qualification is achieved at the beginning of our career! Our knowledge can quickly go out of date – especially in areas such as technology and legislation. I’ve spent many years as a freelancer and I am very familiar with the cravings for new ideas and different approaches!
Many organisations offer opportunities for employed staff to engage in CPD activities, providing both time and budget. However, freelancers must not only consider unpaid time, but also expenses and fees – so there’s a danger that CPD ends up very low down on the list of day to day priorities. But freelance professionals who do have an ongoing commitment to learning are successful, busy people!
At Wiltshire Music Connect we recognise, celebrate and promote CPD for music leaders and tutors. It’s important because we want knowledgeable professionals who can offer the highest quality of music opportunities for children and young people in Wiltshire. We also recognise that Music Education is now in a constant stage of change and evolution and we have a responsibility to make sure those who work in it recognise that too.
At the same time, we suggest and encourage hourly rates for freelance tutors which reflect the fact that tutors need to fund their own CPD, as well their other self-employment costs. At the moment most of our CPD opportunities for Wiltshire based music leaders are free, and we are focusing on follow up and evaluation in order to demonstrate benefit and impact. But we also need to work on developing a sustainable and affordable CPD offer, so advocating fair pay, and recognition that CPD is essential and needs to be budgeted for is an important strand of our work – CPD is rarely free, and most of us need to set aside time and resources to engage in learning.
However, there are many accessible ways to increase learning – most of us do this anyway but don’t recognise or include it when promoting our services. How many of us are members of professional networks, regularly receiving important updates and news about our work sector? Do we reflect on this information and embed it in our work? Arranging with a colleague to spend some time observing their work, and asking questions is straightforward – I’ve always found people more than happy to oblige. And there is a plethora of free courses and training available online – we just need to be careful as the quality can vary enormously, and recommendations by recognised organisations and professionals is a useful pointer.
We ask our Associate Providers listed in our online directory to share information about their own ongoing CPD as well as their past qualifications as we see this as an indicator of their commitment to quality – and would encourage others to do so too. We also aim to support our music leaders by programming regular free and subsidised CPD opportunities as well as bursaries.
Here are some quotes from those who have attended some our sessions:
- “Some great ideas to use and where to find them. It was useful to have the time to share ideas together during the sessions.”
- “It gave me the confidence that I do know what I’m doing”
- “It’s been incredibly beneficial to me to have this guidance.”
And finally – engaging in CPD activity has the added benefit of keeping us connected and networked – increasing opportunities for rewarding work in a range of settings!
For information and booking for the latest Wiltshire Music Connect CPD opportunities check the eventbrite listings page https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/united-kingdom–wiltshire/wiltshire-music-connect/?mode=search or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Jones, Development Manager, Wiltshire Music Connect Music Education Hub