Tips For Planning an Effective School INSET Day

Having experienced numerous INSET days ourselves, we know that these important team days can evoke a mixture of emotions. With often jam-packed agendas and new learning filled to the brim, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and overloaded. This feeling may be compounded by the realisation that the summer holidays have concluded, and there's a lengthy stretch ahead until Christmas. It's no surprise that these days sometimes elicit a sense of dread, combined with the usual nerves and excitement of a new academic year beginning.

So how can you avoid this and instead plan an INSET day that is productive, engaging and worthwhile? Let's take a look.


What do I need to prioritise on INSET day?

Often, schools will have one or two INSET days in September. While you may feel the need to account for each hour of those days, it's important to consider what you wish to prioritise so you don't overfill them and end up rushing through some of the most important bits.

Each school will have individual priorities based on the outcomes of their most recent Ofsted inspection, school improvement work or community-based actions. However, the following suggestions are areas that are commonly prioritised by most settings on INSET day:

    Spend time with your senior leadership team during the summer term to clarify what your school priorities are and agree how this information will be shared during INSET.


    What should I consider when planning a school INSET day? 

    Planning an effective school INSET day requires careful consideration to ensure it's both productive and engaging for the staff team. Here are some of our top tips:


    1. Set clear objectives

    Define what you want to achieve by the end of the day. Whether it's introducing new strategies, addressing specific challenges linked to school improvement or enhancing staff wellbeing, having clear objectives will keep everyone focused. Don't forget to share these with the team too.


    2. Tailor activities to staff needs

    Talk to the team before you begin to plan the day to understand their professional development needs, learning styles and interests. Customise the day's activities accordingly to make it relevant and beneficial for everyone.


    3. Provide a mix of training methods and opportunities for interaction

    Incorporate a variety of training methods to cater to different learning styles. This could include workshops, presentations, group discussions, hands-on activities or even guest speakers. 

    Adding a variety of methods like this can help to avoid cognitive overload. Encourage active participation through interactive workshops where staff can apply new skills or strategies in a supportive environment. Utilising hands-on activities can reinforce learning and foster collaboration among colleagues.


    4. Include everyone

    It's crucial to involve all staff members in meaningful ways during the INSET. While recognising that not every training session will directly apply to every role, it's vital to tailor the agenda to address the specific needs of each group of staff. Inclusivity ensures that everyone feels valued and contributes to the collective effort, fostering a strong sense of teamwork as the academic year begins.


    5. Prepare resources and materials

    Ensure staff have access to necessary resources, materials and tools to support their learning during the day and check you have sufficient quantities so everyone has a copy. If you're expecting a staff member or external individual to lead a session, take the time to agree what needs to be covered in advance so it is well prepared and appropriate for the needs of your school and staff team.


    6. Factor in reflection

    Schedule time for staff to reflect on their learning throughout the day. Reflection helps reinforce understanding and allows individuals to consider how they can apply new knowledge or skills in their practice. INSET is also a perfect opportunity for staff members to reflect on what they'd like to achieve this year and the skills they'd like to develop.


    7. Incorporate time for collaboration

    Provide opportunities for staff to collaborate with colleagues from different departments or year groups to support the sharing of ideas and experiences. These conversations can be hugely beneficial and spark creativity and generate new approaches to teaching and learning.


    8. Focus on wellbeing

    Dedicate part of the day to staff wellbeing activities such as mindfulness exercises, team-building activities or sessions on work-life balance. A healthy and motivated staff team is essential for a successful school community and INSET day provides the perfect opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the academic year.


    9. Offer follow-up support

    After the INSET day, provide opportunities for support to help reinforce learning and encourage staff to implement new strategies effectively. This could include mentoring, coaching or additional resources and training sessions. It's important that any strategies introduced on INSET day are not seen as just as one-off training opportunity, and instead, plans should be in place to build upon the work started here.


    10. Gather feedback

    Collect feedback from staff after the INSET day to evaluate its effectiveness and identify areas for improvement in future professional development sessions.


    Some additional considerations to maximise the effectiveness of your September INSET days include:

    • Share the planned schedule for each day in advance, providing clarity and allowing attendees to prepare accordingly.
    • Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances and remain adaptable. Plans may need to be adjusted at the last minute, so having contingency measures in place is essential.
    • Consider small gestures to show appreciation for staff members' dedication to your school. This could include organising a team lunch or preparing tea and coffee to kickstart the day on a positive note.
    • Extend invitations to governors or trustees to attend the INSET days to provide an opportunity for them to connect with staff members and gain insights into the school's operations.
    • Aim to conclude the day's activities ahead of schedule whenever possible. Allowing staff members to leave early provides them with additional time to recharge and prepare for the upcoming term, promoting a fresh start.

      Thinking about how you might plan all of this out? Our checklist has you covered and better yet, it's FREE!


      How can Honeyguide help you prepare for the training day and the academic year ahead?

      We're passionate about ensuring all staff, including school leaders, get the time off and rest they need and deserve during the summer holidays. For this reason, we'd really recommend planning out your INSET day in advance of the summer break, and complete any actions that feed into the priorities covered during the day.

      Here are some of our top resources so you can feel prepared in advance of INSET day, covering aspects of the Ofsted framework, subject leadership, safeguarding and more:


      Let us lead beside you and help you to feel ready for the new academic year now, so you can enjoy much needed time off to recharge over the summer break.


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