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Budgeting for professional development

August 02, 2005

Hello again. Are you preparing budgets for the next academic year? I know schools have many calls on their income so it is not surprising that many organizations give priority to the budgetary requirements of such areas as marketing or books and equipment. However, marketing and up-to-date books, materials and equipment will not be worth investing in if the teaching team has become stale and has lost enthusiasm because, without any doubt, your teachers are your most valuable resource. So how can you budget cost-effectively for teacher development? I have a few ideas I'd like to share with you.

The starting point is to know what talents your teachers have that could be fostered. If, for example, you have some creative teachers who like to devise materials and activities, then here is an area you can exploit so that it cuts both ways. If you invest in some training to help the teachers develop these talents, then the materials they create for use in the school mean that you will not have to spend so much from the resources budget. You will be making the most of your teachers as resources themselves and cultivating their creative initiative.

If you have teachers who would like to become teacher trainers, you can nurture these skills and then make use of your home-grown trainers to train your own staff. If you have teachers who wish to specialize in specific areas: business English; IELTS preparation; pronunciation; IT; tourism; EAP; young learners - then by helping the teachers develop in these fields you can offer new courses for your students and thus improve your school’s range of services. Viewed in this way, budgeting for teachers’ professional development makes excellent commercial sense and it will do great things for the morale of the staff.

However, when you devise your budget you must make sure that it is fair to all. You could allocate a specific amount per teacher per year that increases with each year of service, thus encouraging them to stay with your school. Another possibility is to allocate a global sum annually and allow the teachers to agree among themselves how it is to be deployed. Or you could decide that you need particular skills and budget for training only in these areas. Once you have decided that you want a professional development plan, you need to insist that all teachers take part so that everyone benefits. The more you involve the staff in the planning and choices, the more successful your program will be.

Bye for now.

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