Have you ever wondered what on Earth teachers actually get up to on an INSET day? In our latest blog in our Educational Jargon series, The Get my Grades team are here to help! We’ll finally put to rest the question of what exactly goes down in the unusually quiet school building on INSET days. INSET days were introduced in 1988 by the Conservative Education Secretary at the time – Kenneth Baker.

INSET stands for ‘In-service training days’.

CPD stands for ‘continued professional development’.

On a good day, these terms pretty much do what they say on the tin. Schools have five statutory days per year to have INSET days when school remains closed to students and all staff are expected to come in. Ideally, these days allow staff at the school a reflective pause, where they can reflect and develop their teaching practices, for example. However, these days are not just for teachers! It is a rare and wonderful occasion where the whole staff body – including support staff, teacher assistants, cleaning and kitchen staff are able to gather.

It is at the school’s discretion as to what they do on an INSET day. Often INSET days have a specific focus; it could be SEN (Special Educational Needs) or numeracy across subjects, for example. Sessions can be delivered by teachers, an external speaker or a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). There are usually interactive and collaborative activities that allow staff to review things such as academic performance, behaviour, particular students, staff morale, school systems and more. It also allows staff an opportunity to discuss solutions to problems and makes space for training, team building and CPD.

Some teachers find INSET days frustrating due to it feeling like a tick box activity and not a productive use of time. Generally, teachers want to use this time to come up with innovative approaches that will benefit their students and they want to ensure that the day has clear objectives that actually support their classroom practice.

Some parents can also find INSET days to be an inconvenience, especially for those who work, with less flexible working policies. However, it is important to view the potential benefit of an INSET day for all. Teaching is a multi-faceted role that often leaves teachers with limited time to achieve all that they want to. INSET days benefit your child as it allows their teachers to stop and review what is best for them. Schools need to ensure they are consulting teachers and keeping an open dialogue as to what would be the best use of the time for all.

So, the next time you have an INSET day coming up, why not ask your teachers what they’ll be covering on that day? You never know, your question may lead to a very interesting discussion about what happens in your classroom that could benefit everyone too!

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