Continuing Professional Development
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Continuing Professional Development

“Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an on-going commitment to broadening or further developing competence in providing outdoor learning.”


Professional training plus experience are usually central the process of acquiring competence in a particular role, activity or subject.

CPD focusses on development - gaining more skills knowledge or experience to help you improve the way you provide outdoor learning.

The IOL Development map (opposite) shows six areas where members can develop their practice:
  • LEADING THE ACTIVITY
  • LEADING THE LEARNING
  • LEADERSHIP JUDGEMENT & ENGAGEMENT
  • PROFESSIONAL VALUES AND REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
  • SUPPORTING THE ORGANISATION
  • CHARACTER AND PERSONAL SKILLS

IOL Development Map

Should I be planning my CPD?

It is viewed as good practice across the sector for instructors and leaders of outdoor learning to engage in a range of on-going CPD activities relevant to their current and/or desired future role. CPD is encouraged for RPIOL holders, advised for APIOL holders and expected for LPIOL holders.

What does IOL recognise as CPD?

It is not the content of an experience or attendance on a course that makes something CPD – it is whether the person has applied their learning to broadening or further developing their competence as an outdoor leader. CPD can be:

  • Self-led (shadowing, reading/ watching, critical reflection, etc.)
  • Within outdoor community (conferences, committees, voluntary work, etc.)
  • External delivered (workshops, training courses, awards, etc.)

The IOL CPD Development Project

Over 2015-16 the Institute brought employers and national governing together for a research project looking at CPD across the outdoor sector. A core group met five times with the aim of creating a shared definition and approach to CPD that would be of value to practitioners and providers of outdoor learning. The first output of the project is the 7 Steps to CPD guide. If you would like to be involved in the future discussions, please get in touch with the chair of the IOL CPD Research Group.

Principal representatives to the core research group have included: IOL, AHOEC, British Canoeing, Royal Yachting Association, Field Studies Council, PGL, World Challenge, Inspiring Learning, British Cycling. Mountain Training have also been involved in this project.

7 Steps to CPD
A practical guide to developing practice for outdoor leaders and employers.