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Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

What is CPD, why it is important for music teachers and how to find it.

Last updated: 18 November 2020

Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, is a self-directed process of developing your skills and knowledge, both through training and qualifications and as you work. It helps you set goals for yourself and expand your professional network by connecting you with others who are on CPD journeys of their own.

Where to start with your CPD

To make CPD a regular part of your work, keep a journal of any questions, insights and learning points that arise from your teaching. You might record:

  • Any training and what you learned from it
  • Tips picked up from colleagues
  • New resources or ways of working that you discover
  • Feedback from students
  • Insights gained from taking on a new or responsibility, such as a leadership role or deputising for colleagues
  • Lessons learned from mistakes or critical incidents

Set longer-term goals

Reflect on your longer-term goals and what you need to do to achieve them. For example, perhaps you want to expand your teaching practice and are looking to develop your business and marketing skills. Once you are clear about your goals, you can direct your CPD more effectively.

Check in with music education sector developments

Keeping up with music education news and debates helps keep your knowledge current. Check the MU website regularly for important sector announcements, and find other music teachers and useful threads on social media by searching for the hashtags #musiced and #musicedchat.

Training opportunities from the MU

  • The MU offers a range of events to help members who teach develop their skills and knowledge, from finance and self-promotion to creativity and wellbeing. These are mostly free or heavily subsidised.
  • The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU), of which the MU is part, offers a training service that is fully accessible to MU members. Much of the training is free and covers a wide range of topics, from assertiveness to vlogging. MU members need to complete a registration process.
  • The Art of Teaching is a joint project from the MU and MusicTeachers.co.uk. It comprises over 100 videos about teaching, with information and ideas from experienced professionals working across genres, age ranges and ability levels. 

Other sources of training

If you teach in schools or other community settings, ask about training opportunities. Your local music education hub may offer (or signpost to) training that can be also be accessed by private and self-employed teachers. If you cannot find your local hub, ask your regional MU office.

There are many training providers in music education. The following is just a sample:

Qualifications

Qualifications recognise the skills and knowledge you develop through training. Newer qualifications tend to engage better with contemporary issues such as special needs and technology. Check that a qualification will assess your teaching in person or by video. Older qualifications may assess you through assignments about teaching, which employers may see as less valid.

School-based classroom teachers are often qualified and paid according to their qualification level, although academies (now the majority of schools) can in theory hire teachers without qualifications and pay them what they choose. Nevertheless, a qualification is still the most common route into classroom teaching. Find out more on the government’s Get into Teaching website.

For instrumental/vocal teachers, there is no formal connection between qualifications and pay. However, CPD and qualifications often help individual teachers negotiate better rates from themselves, as well as increasing job satisfaction and employability.

Qualifications for instrumental and vocal teachers

The Certificate for Music Educators (CME) is a Level 4 (equivalent to early undergraduate level) qualification for music teachers. Assessment is through assignments and live or video observations of lessons. The CME is awarded by Trinity College London and ABRSM with training offered by a range of providers.

Manchester Metropolitan University’s PGCE in Secondary Music with Specialist Instrument Teaching covers both secondary classroom music teaching and instrumental/vocal teaching. It is delivered in partnership with the Royal Northern College of Music and leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

London Music Masters offers a one-year PGCEi in group string teaching, in partnership with Birmingham City University. This course offers options to progress on to QTS afterwards.

The European String Teachers’ Association offers a range of courses including the CME (mentioned above) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in partnership with Chichester University. The latter, a Level 7 course (masters equivalent), is predominantly online and does not offer QTS, although it does include transferable masters credits. Teachers of all instruments and voice are catered for, not just strings.

The Piano Teachers’ Course is a part-residential, part-distance-learning programme that leads to its own certificate, with options to opt in to ABRSM teaching diplomas.

The British Kodály Academy offers training and certification for teachers wishing to pursue this particular approach to music teaching. Dalcroze UK and Orff UK offer similar programmes.

Things to check when choosing a qualification:

  • Is training included, or is it up to you to arrange this?
  • If training is included, is this online or in person?
  • If you are looking for mentoring, is this included?
  • Does the qualification lead to QTS? This is usually associated with higher-level qualifications and may not be necessary for instrumental/vocal teachers
  • Can you access funding to take the qualification, from your employer, the provider or elsewhere?
  • What other costs will be incurred, for example on books or residential accommodation?