How to plan the perfect INSET day

We’re fast approaching the end of the year… which means that you’re probably already furiously planning for next year.  Judging by the flood of bookings we’ve had over the last couple of weeks for in school training for September it seems that many of you are keen to get the new school year off to a good start.

Whether you decide to host your own INSET training, or bring in an external provider, there are a few key things you can bear in mind during the planning process which will help ensure that your training is relevant, practical, engaging and runs smoothly.

Consider the needs of individuals

There can be a tendency for INSET training to become a bit of a box ticking exercise.  It needn’t be so.  Use it as an opportunity to address individual training needs. You are likely to be aware of these via individual performance appraisals or you can carry out a basic training needs audit.

Put individual needs within the context of the school or department

Once you’re aware of the needs of individuals, think about how these fit into the broader context of the school or department so that you can develop a training day that meets the needs of both individuals and the department as a whole.

Determine clear objectives for the day

As with planning any lesson, it is important to determine what outcomes you are hoping to achieve through your INSET training day.  These can be very concrete and skills based e.g. ‘to ensure all staff are able to use the new VLE’ they may be broader e.g. ‘to ensure staff are comfortable with diffusing angry situations’ or maybe they are more long germ e.g. ‘to develop an action plan for dealing with absenteeism to be implemented in the autumn term.’  Setting objectives will make it far easier to plan the content of your training and give staff a far clearer idea of why they are attending and what they might hope to achieve.

Use your INSET training as an opportunity to develop shared goals

INSET days are a fantastic opportunity to share ideas and to ensure everyone is working as a team and singing from the same hymn sheet.  In your planning ensure you monopolise on this opportunity to have staff working together and provide opportunities for the team to develop shared goals.  You can be sure that staff will be more motivated to achieve goals they have had a hand in setting.

Ensure staff are aware of what is expected of them and are adequately prepared

Share the objectives of your training day well ahead of time.  Staff need to know ‘what’s in it for me’ and feel motivated to attend and actively participate.  If you require staff to prepare for the day, make it crystal clear what is expected of them.  Your day will get off to a bad start if required preparation has not been done because it was not communicated well. This happens frequently.

Think carefully about who will lead your INSET day

Many people choose to appoint internal members of staff to lead their INSET training.  This can work very well as long as they adequately prepare, have the respect of their colleagues and have the required skills and knowledge to deliver the training.  An alternative is to bring in an external provider.  This can often add an element of rigour to the day and also gives a clear message to staff that you are willing to invest in their professional development.

Think about the learning environment

Like children, adults do no learn well in the wrong environment.  Try and secure a space that is light and roomy and has everything to hand that you might need for your training.

Put thought into the materials

Do develop materials to accompany your training day and do pay them a great deal of care and attention.  These materials should make sense on their own for use by any staff who are unable to attend on the day – or as a reference for attendees at a later date.  Shoddy or non-existent materials screams ‘this day is not considered important by the SLT’ to you participants who will are then less likely to treat it seriously.

Plan interactive activities and enable a sharing of ideas

When writing your materials and planning the day, bear in mind all of the same ideas that you would apply to good lesson planning.  Keep things interesting.  Differentiate as appropriate.  Ensure that there is plenty of opportunity for interaction and develop relevant activities that will consolidate learning.

Prepare relevant materials etc well in advance

Be prepared.  Do not let staff arrive on the day to find you frantically trying to set up a room / photocopy materials etc.  These are yet more messages which show that you do not value this training.

Don’t let staff opt out without good reason

Many staff do not see the value of INSET training and this is compounded by staff being able to opt out with the flimsiest of excuses.  Your training day should be a valuable part of the continuing professional development of your staff and should be respected as such.  Do not allow staff to opt out without a really good reason.  If you take it seriously, your staff will too.

Make it enjoyable

The last advice I would give is that INSET days often fall right at the beginning of term, when the kids are still on holiday.  Staff might not be at their most motivated as perhaps they’d rather still be at home… so make your INSET days fun.  Little things can make a huge amount of difference.  Build in decent coffee breaks allowing staff to catch up with each other, make sure you have some fun or light hearted activities to break the ice and most importantly of all… make sure you buy plenty of biscuits!

If you are looking for an external provider, Creative Education can offer INSET training from as little as £499.  We can either deliver one of our wide range of teacher training courses in your school or we can develop a bespoke INSET training day to meet your specific needs.  For more information please either visit the INSET training section of our website or call our INSET training team on 0800 881 8185.