School Improvement & Development Conference 2023: Book your early-bird place

5 Questions To Ask To Get The Most Out Of Your INSET Days (And The Answers)!

1) When should INSET days be scheduled?

  • Always choose to put your INSET day at a time when they will have most impact. It may seem tempting to put them before Christmas or the summer holiday to give your staff a bit of extra holiday, but greater impact will always be seen when they come towards the beginning of the year or term. Given how incredibly busy schools and teachers get, you really can’t afford to waste valuable training time that you can use to develop your staff professionally and reinvigorate them for the challenge of the year ahead.
  • Choose a day when other schools aren’t having an INSET day. This may be a bit unpopular with parents, but, frankly, it will mean you can get the best trainers and, all things considered, parents want their children to receive the best experience they can, which means teachers having the best training they can. The children are the priority.

2) What should they be covering?

  • Survey your staff. Look at your results. If you look at your results and you can see straight away that writing is a problem, then, obviously, you need to focus on that. If it is less obvious, it is critically important to ask your team and find the best compromise from their feedback. If you’re fortunate enough to have budget for two INSETs, that may be another solution if there are two clear groupings of need.
  • If you think that your team needs a big boost, sometimes a more team building approach to your INSET may be required. Perhaps you could include some activities to help the team gel and feel appreciated.

3) Who should be attending?

  • When possible, it is best to pay the overtime for TAs to attend the INSET. You also need to instil a belief that INSET days are incredibly important and are not just a day off! (Also, make it clear that it’s not a ‘tidy-up day’. INSETs are for training, not decorating classrooms.)
  • You need to convey to your team exactly why they need to attend the training – it is far better if the team buy in to what they are doing rather than feel forced. If they buy in to it, the results will be far better.

4) Who should deliver the INSET day?

  • Internal? Clearly, we are a training company and we want you to use external trainers (!) – but let us be honest. If you have a member of staff who is a strong deliverer, is very strong in the area you want to cover, has time to prepare thoroughly for the INSET and who commands the respect of their colleagues (this is incredibly important) then it is worthwhile that member of staff delivering the training – both for financial and logistical reasons.
  • External? When you don’t have the above, then you should could consider an external provider. Not all external providers are great, so do your research and look at testimonials for the training you’re interested in. But an external provider can take the weight off your shoulders and share new and exciting ideas with you that you, as a teacher or senior leader, wouldn’t necessarily have had a chance to look at and make into a course.

5) What would make it successful?

  • You should think about this beforehand. Come up with a list of requirements. One head said to me that they want to be inspired, they want training that will kick off the term and that they want their trainer to be charismatic. Now that’s certainly something you should think about requesting, but also decide, okay, I want writing training, but what are our specific weaknesses – what do my colleagues struggle with? You are essentially creating a set of success criteria. This is important when you providing the training internally, but even more important when contracting in an external provider. We would never teach a lesson to children without a clear learning objective and success criteria, so why would we teach adults any differently? You should pass your success criteria on to the trainer in plenty of time so he or she has time to tailor the training to your needs.

If you spend a little time considering these questions, you will know that the training you provide will not only be thought-provoking, interesting and engaging, but that it will also meet the specific needs of your school.