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  • Writer's pictureEmily Del-Grande

Bettering yourself in your work- is it as easy as it sounds?

Ok I'll be honest, this blog is about CPD. But every time I typed it into the heading I nearly fell asleep so I can't expect anyone else to read it, right?

But hang in for 2 minutes and we might get through this one together.

The reason I write this blog is I met up with a friend today that I met at the start of my Counselling training, a whole 8 years ago. We saw each other through 3 gruelling courses to qualify and in that time we cried, we celebrated, we ate far too much cake and we grew as professionals and in a personal sense.

I often wonder if we would have kept going without the support of one another and I count myself lucky that we have monthly supervision together where we sometimes discuss the compulsory 30 hours of CPD that we must both complete each year due to being members of the BACP.

Why a picture of a potato? Well one of our favourite learnings was about the legendary Carl Rogers who was one of the founding figures of humanistic psychology, and a story he told about potatoes. I'll come back to that later because it has relevance!

CPD or continuing professional development is a necessary and sometimes compulsory part of many jobs so as someone who offers bespoke training, I need to understand what the barriers are to people accessing it.

The barriers that seem a hot potato (see what I did there?!) are time, accessibility and quality. It is evident that different professions and organisations work differently and support staff in different ways. A few examples:

  • The Royal College of Nursing (2022) talk about how for Mental Health Nurses, CPD is mandatory for revalidation yet employers are not legally required to provide time for it or to protect time off.

  • In Education, staff attend the bulk of training during INSET days which are paid, term time days. The majority of the time training is delivered in-house by staff or bringing in external, specialist consultants. However senior leaders report mentoring is not always possible on the back of training due to other priorities. A 2023 report by OFSTED shows schools still struggle to offer CPD and it doesn't always have a positive impact.

  • A recent survey by the British Association of Social Workers (2022) shows 71% of Social Workers deem their CPD opportunities as accessible- the bulk of which is online learning. Social work England has minimum requirements for the amount of CPD a worker is to have on record. Overall, 69% of staff say the CPD is useful.

TES offer further barriers to why CPD is hard to implement, see here: 5 reasons why schools struggle with CPD | Tes Magazine

The TES article takes me back to my potato. The reason I remember that story is it is relevant to all of the work that I do, it's an inspiring perspective, it's a true story from a man I respect and it leaves me wanting to not only better myself, but find ways of continuously moving forward to help others. For me, this is CPD at it's finest.

So the moral of my blog if you made it to the end and didn't falter at the statistics part.... CPD comes in many forms and sometimes you need to attend a basic, mandatory course with power points.... but sometimes you can read a story about a potato and it will inspire you the way it inspired me. The key is to find accessible CPD that interests you, that is relevant to your work and even better, is delivered in a way that allows you to open your mind to alternative ways of thinking.

Over to you Carl.....

I remember that in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter’s supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window.  The conditions were unfavourable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout — pale, white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots, they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring.  But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window.  The sprouts were, in their bizarre, futile growth, a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing.  They would never become plants, never mature, never fulfil their real potential.  But under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become.  Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish.  In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the backwards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts.  So unfavourable have been the conditions in which these people have developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human.  Yet, the directional tendency in them can be trusted.  The clue to understanding their behaviour is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming.  To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life’s desperate attempt to become itself. 

Source Carl Rogers (1980) A WAY OF BEING

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