CPD toolkit

This toolkit will help you to take ownership of your professional development.

The toolkit explains the stages of the CPD cycle and includes resources to help you.  It also provides help on setting objectives, some examples of CPD activities and how you might record your development.  While the CPD process itself can be rewarding, it is the end result that is the most significant and meaningful.

The College of Policing has designed a CPD cycle in four stages:

  • self-awareness
  • planning
  • action
  • reflection.

 CPD cycle

Self awarenessPlanningActionReflection 

CPD is for you as an individual, not for your line manager.  Your line manager will be undertaking their own CPD.  You may look to, or require, your line manager's guidance on your CPD activities, and there may be a need for your line manager to direct your CPD activities.  It is advised that you provide your line manager with a summary of your CPD.

Although you may wish to share only the results and not the process, in some instances it may be helpful to share the process too. This is particularly so if the process has significantly informed your development or if the result of the CPD activity is unexpected. Of the documents in this toolkit only the CPD Summary is designed to be shared with your line manager. In some roles you may be required to complete specific CPD activities in order to maintain and enhance your competence in order to meet the requirements of professional registers or to re-accredit or undertake refresher training e.g. Public Order, but in others you may be required to direct your own professional development.

The College has produced a case study to help you understand CPD

CPD Self awareness

Self-awareness is about having an honest conversation with yourself and those around you about your strengths and areas where you could develop or gain more experience.

This could include requesting feedback from managers, peers and members of the community in which you serve. It is then beneficial to take an opportunity to share these strengths with others and consider how you can develop them further.  You may be able to access other tools like psychometric tests or 360 feedback.

Psychometric tests are used by employers to help with selection and recruitment, and are typically split into personality or aptitude tests in numerical, verbal and diagrammatic reasoning.  360 feedback is explained as meaningful feedback from people who an individual works with, including managers, direct reports and peers.

Self-awareness will help you to find the focus and aims of your development.

You can download a self-awareness questionnaire which may help you to reflect on your current strengths and areas you wish to develop.

CPD Planning

To help you to achieve your development objectives it is helpful to make a plan.

Setting objectives as part of a development plan can help you to see what you need to do, motivate you to act and help you to measure your progress. Clear objectives help to ensure that CPD activities are relevant to your needs and those of your force.

The SMART framework is a way of ensuring that your objectives have meaning. SMART objectives are:

SpecificWhat do you want to be able to do?
MeasureableHow will you know once you have achieved it?
AchievableWill you be able to do it, or could other things impact on it?
RelevantIs it applicable to your professional development or your current role/roles?
TimelyWhen will you be able to achieve it?


The type of verbs you use for your objectives can change what is required.  Bloom's Taxonomy is a tool used in education to find the right verb for setting objectives. It orders learning into six levels of increasing depth:

  1. remembering
  2. understanding
  3. applying
  4. analysing
  5. evaluating
  6. creating

For example, understanding requires less knowledge than evaluating, and remembering a skill is not as difficult as applying it in a new situation.  The verb changes the level of learning needed and the method used to achieve the objective.  The verb you choose should influence the CPD activity you choose to undertake to achieve your objective.

You can download templates to help you with the planning stage and a table of verbs linked to each level of Bloom's Taxonomy.

CPD Action

A CPD activity is any activity which helps to maintain or enhance your knowledge and skills.

In reality, what qualifies as an activity is very wide-ranging and includes informal, unplanned and spontaneous learning events. You may well be undertaking lots of CPD already and what you are required to do as part of your job also counts towards your CPD.

A range of activities can be used as part of a CPD programme. The College has put together a table that outlines examples of CPD activities you may wish to adopt.

Activities don't have to be restricted to one method either, they can be adapted or combined with others to achieve one or more objectives.

CPD Reflection

Reflection provides an opportunity to think back on your performance.

This is an opportunity to be positive about what you have done well when undertaking your CPD. You should plan to record your reflections, including your successes, new or improved knowledge and consider how you can share this with colleagues (which is in itself a CPD activity).

It is also important in your reflections that you are able to be honest about things you think you are capable of doing better or differently if you face something similar again.

To help review your activity, you should keep a record of what you have done, or are in the process of doing. How you choose to record your CPD activities is up to you but you must maintain the security of sensitive information at all times.  You may wish to record audio or video, take a photograph on your smartphone, record it on your College membership personal page, write it in a notebook, write a blog, send yourself an email and store it in a relevant folder, or keep a CPD journal.

No matter what method you choose, you should address the following questions:

  • What did you do?
  • What have you learnt?
  • How was this related to maintaining or ensuring you are competent in your current role/a future role?
  • When was the activity completed?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What will you do next?

Reflecting upon your CPD will help you to recognise if further learning and development is needed to meet your initial aims or will help you to identify a focus for the next CPD activity.

There are a number of ways that could help you reflect upon your CPD activities:

  • reflect on and evaluate your CPD and work activities
  • ask for feedback from your supervisors, peers or colleagues
  • make a note of any informal feedback about your performance
  • complete a CPD summary for your Line Manager
  • complete a PDR
  • share what you've learnt with others, either formally or informally

The above might reveal new learning and development opportunities that you had not previously considered.

As part of the review process you need to decide if the completion of your CPD activity has met your SMART objectives. Have your learning and development needs been met or not? If not, then you need to consider how you might address this.

You can download a reflection questionnaire to help you with the process of reviewing your CPD activity. It lists a series of questions which will help you decide if you have met your SMART objectives and what you need to do next.

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