June 14, 2018

I have recently been inundated with requests about CPTD points. The most common questions being  WHY and HOW? So I did a quick survey, asking teachers when were the last time they read a book about education. The scary truth is that more than half of the teachers who completed the survey have not read a book about education, teaching or their subject since they left university. How happy will you be with a doctor who has not opened a medical journal since university or a lawyer that is not up to date with the latest legal precedents? Teachers are professionals and part of being a professional is continually updating your knowledge.

Is there a point to be made for keeping up with new research, if you consider yourself a professional? Yes.

Should teachers who invest in their own learning, whether it is by attending conferences or reading about their subject, be encouraged? Definitely.

Will CPTD actually make you a better teacher? That depends on you. If you plan you CPTD well, it can be a way to keep yourself motivated to be a lifelong learner. If you leave it until the last minute, trying to do the absolute minimum to get the points, it will be a waste of your time. 

What are CPTD points?

SACE is the registering organisation for teachers. Technically you cannot be appointed as a teacher in South Africa unless you are registered with SACE. To keep your registration, you have to keep up to date with the newest research in education by earning Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) points. These points can be obtained in a number of ways, which I will discuss in next week’s post. 

How many CPTD points do I need?

Each teacher needs to log at least 150 points over a 3-year cycle. These points should be spread relatively evenly over the three years (so about 50 points per year) and consist of 3 types of activities, self-initiated, school-initiated and provider-led activities. Each activity has been allocated a certain number of points; once you complete the activity, you can log it on the SACE online portal and so keep track of your points.

The first question everybody asks is, “What happens if I do not accumulate my points?”

This question is getting more and more pressing since the first cycle is ending December 2018 and the majority of the teachers I know have not registered yet, never mind accumulate 150 CPTD points. It is not clear what the penalty will be. I have heard rumours that they will deduct from your salary. That will be challenged in court so quickly; it won’t be funny. The more realistic penalty is that you will no longer be registered by SACE. However, there is no way that SACE will be able to unregister half the teachers in the country at the end of the year, especially since their system is not working 100%. Lots of teachers have not even been able to log in, never mind log their activities.

If I were in charge of SACE I will let the 2018 deadline come-and-go with no action and start everybody on a new cycle in 2019. However, the lack of clear concequences should not be an excuse not to get your CPTD points. Teaching is all about learning, and as a teacher, you should not need a sword over your head to make you learn. 

What if I have no CPTD points yet?

Don’t worry; it is not as bad as you think.

Yes, getting 150 points in 6 months is not really realistic, but you might be surprised by how many points you already accumulated. They are just waiting for you to claim them. For example, if you have marked matric papers that will be 5 points per year (I have logged my marking for the past 2 years, while it shows under activities I am not yet credited with points), if you attended 10 or more school meetings, that will be another 10 points. Maybe you participated in a conference or workshop during the last two years.

I did a little experiment using my CPTD planner to see if I would be able to get 150 points before the end of 2018. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be well balanced, but it can be done. That doesn’t mean I think you should freak out and sign up for every conference and course that is available for the rest of the year. At the moment you can not even log Type 2 & 3 activities. But it cannot do any harm to sign up and claim everything that you have in any case done. And start looking for activities that will help you to accumulate points.

Disclaimer: I based the points on the CPTD points schedule as are available on the SACE website. But when you actually log the points, there are slight differences. As I get more information, I will update this post. 

Where do you start?

The first thing to do is to log in to the SACE online portal. At some point the department did bulk sign-ups, so you might already have an account without realising it. Try to log in using your SACE number as your username and your surname as your password (both with a capital and lowercase letter) if that doesn’t work, try your SACE number as password too. If all of that fails, click on the button that says “Not Signed In Yet” and register an account. The video shows you how.

As it is, you can only log Type 1 activities. Type 2 activities should be logged by the school and Type 3 by the service provider. But neither of those are happening yet. As a provider myself I can assure you that part is still chaos. I would, however, suggest that you keep a record for yourself of Type 2 & 3 activities. For example, file all the agendas to staff meetings, and keep the certificate you receive at the end of a course. In the next post, I will discuss the types of activities and how you can plan your CPTD points, so that doesn’t become this mountain.

If your school would be interested, I do a one hour workshop, helping the staff to log in and start logging their points, but more important planning their activities so that they can get the most out of CPTD points. You can also add your questions to the comments and I will try to answer them for you.

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