Guest Blog: Learning by ‘doing’: Can CPD be balanced with day to day working?

23 January 2018

Jo Flanagan and Bibiana Wigley are both specialist Speech and Language therapists. With many years of experience working with children with speech, language and communication needs in the NHS in England, they formed Clarity (TEC) Ltd in 2013 to meet the growing numbers of children who are late talking and find it difficult to learn. In their new roles, they have developed an evidence based model of support that enables the workforce in nurseries and primary schools to maximise the skills of all children who experience communication difficulties. Here Jo shares with us her journey in engaging with evidence to continually improve her practice in offering staff CPD and school support and how she deepened her understanding of the power of coaching.


Learning by ‘doing’: Can CPD be balanced with day to day working?

Since Bibiana and myself formed Clarity five years ago, we have constantly re-visited the idea about how we can create valuable CPD opportunities which are closely related to teachers everyday practice in the classroom with ‘real’ children with speech language and communication needs (SLCN). We had spent many years in previous roles training teachers, however, there always felt like there was a disconnect between the messages we ‘imparted’ on training days and how teachers were able to use the information with children in their day to day practice.

Early on in our journey as independent Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) we formed a working partnership with Professor Rachel Lofthouse who at the time taught on the PGCE teacher education course at Newcastle University. Rachel helped us to understand the demands that teachers experience in schools and got us interested in utilising video reflective practice coaching to support knowledge transfer from training courses and apply pedagogical techniques to support children’s learning in the classroom. Rachel had found that coaching had been a useful CPD tool which allowed teachers to integrate learning and working.



What is coaching?

Bergen et al (2000) describes coaching as;

‘…….a form of professional collaboration and support to improve professional development and craftmanship through experimentation, reflection, exchanging of professional ideas and problem solving’

The coaching follows formal training courses where knowledge transfer takes place around ages and stages of SLC development and supportive evidence based pedagogical techniques which support ‘talk’. Three sessions of coaching, preferably no more than two weeks apart are arranged with the teachers and leadership team. At the coaching sessions teachers would identify a speech and language issue which they would like to discuss with the SLT and a short five-minute clip would be taken of the lesson. The teacher and SLT spend time in a confidential co-constructive exchange looking specifically at pedagogical techniques which support children’s speech, language and communication skills.

Rachel helped us to evaluate  our coaching work and we found that practitioners were most likely to embed and use newly learned skills through a process of coaching, professional discussion and reflection in their own workplace.

What we hadn’t anticipated was that by considering teacher CPD with Rachel, we in turn learned about our relationship with the teaching and learning process and how our work can be dovetailed in to classroom teaching and how we could share our learning in a variety of forums. We began to write up some of our shared learning here and presented our findings at education research conferences which in turn helped us to maintain our own professional standards in line with our professional regulator the Health Care Professions Council – HCPC and also linked in to the new Department for Education Standards for Teacher Professional Development



If you are interested in developing your skills and practice when supporting children’s speech, language and communication skills contact Clarity (TEC) Ltd at or 01332 404265


Posted on 23 January 2018
Posted in: Blog, Evidence

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