An INSET day, is an abbreviation of IN-SErvice Training day, also known as a TD Day (Teacher Development Day) or PD Day (Professional Development Day),
These statutory 5 days take place in part days or whole days across the school year while pupils stay off schools.
Unfortunately, the public generally view these days as an opportunity for teachers to skive off, leaving parents with the burden of finding extra childcare. INSET days are in fact meant to give teachers the opportunity to be updated on professional knowledge and developments, to train up on new skills and to prepare for the coming term.
What springs to mind when teachers hear ‘INSET’ may be quite different to what the term conjures up for trainers from services delivering INSET. For some teachers it might seem like a way of being eased into the term as someone else talks at them. It might be something to be endured whilst they ponder the endless number of other things they could be doing in their classrooms. For the trainers they must hit the ground running the first day of term, even after Christmas, facing an audience of people who might be apprehensive at best because they did not choose to be there. Good trainers are mindful of making the sessions relevant, functional and enjoyable, having thought of tasks and techniques to engage everyone including those at the back keeping their heads down. It does not have to be that way. INSET works best when the themes for the sessions have been arrived at through ethical communication between SLT and other staff. It is helpful when each INSET session fits with the whole school plan which the staff fully understand and to which they have contributed, their wishes and needs having been considered holistically. Reaching this point could even be a useful focus for INSET. Clarity of direction about the purpose of the INSET enables the trainers to deliver and facilitate sessions which fit with the needs of the school.
The training does not always have to be delivered by outside services if there is already expertise within the staff. Making use of any existing, strong, inhouse knowledge and skills amongst the staff empowers them, gives them value and contributes to their CPD.
The makeup of the groups of staff attending each session is another important consideration. Useful examples are the issues of whether TAs and teachers attend the same sessions or whether SLT have separate sessions to other members of staff. Training in specific groups can have its benefits as does joint training. Ultimately it is hoped that staff such as teachers and TAs can plan together so that they can share targets and information in order to arrive at agreed outcomes for the pupils and the school.