Personal Development Plan and Continuing Professional Development

In order to be a world class communications service we all need to boost our skills, build our expertise and plan our careers. To ensure this happens, all GCS core members are required to complete at least 4 Continuous Professional Development (CPD) activities each performance year. Each activity you complete qualifies for CPD points (see table below) and you are required to record a minimum of 20 points each year. Any development activity that helps you build your professional or leadership skills as a government communicator counts as CPD. You should aim to complete a variety of different activities. Your GCS CPD counts towards your Civil Service 5 annual development days.

Completion of CPD and points are mandatory for GCS members working in Whitehall departments. If you are working for an arms-length body or agency, you are advised to follow this process as you will be required to evidence your 4 CPD activities when applying for jobs in Whitehall departments.

To help plan your CPD and other general development we have produced a Personal Development Plan (PDP) for you to use. We’ve included some development examples to help you fill in the form. If you’re already using a similar form in your department or organisation, please continue to do so.

You should review and update your PDP at least 4 times a year and aim to have a completed PDP in place by the end of May.

What you need to do


Before completing your PDP you should have a development discussion with your line manager. The discussion should be arranged when you start a new job or at the start of the performance year, whichever comes first. The amount of time you spend with your manager in 1-2-1s will vary from person to person but you should aim for at least one performance discussion per quarter. Allow enough time to prepare for the meeting, thinking about what you want to discuss.

During the meeting use the time to go through your development plan and talk about what you’ve achieved and what you want to achieve. Be realistic about what you can do and by when. Which area or areas do you need to learn more about or gain experience in?

Use your results from the GCS skills survey as a basis for your discussion. Work with your manager and discuss what you need to do. You may already know what your development goals are and how you plan to meet them. If not, here are some questions to consider before and during your development discussion. Also consider them while filling out your PDP:

  • What skills and behaviours do I need to develop?
  • What do I need to learn or do to increase my skill in each MCOM area?
  • How will I measure success?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are there any barriers holding me back, what are they and how can I overcome them?
  • What do I enjoy most about my job?

I’m a manager, what do I need to do?


As a manager you should be supporting your staff to develop themselves. It’s really important to allow time for development discussions as employees (and remember, you’re an employee too) feel valued if they’re given the time to talk about and plan their development. Last minute cancellations are sometimes unavoidable so do make sure you reschedule a missed appointment. If you’re unsure where to start in a development discussion, think about using coaching techniques. Civil Service Learning have different coaching resources. You can access their coaching e-learning here

Remember, employees are recruited because they’re the best and part of your job as a manager is to help them develop their skills and capabilities further. Discuss any feedback you’ve received about them, can you use it to help them plan their development? Talk about any training they’ve completed. What did they learn and how will they use it to improve their performance? Encourage them to share their learning with the rest of the team. This is also one of the ways they can evidence their CPD. Emphasise the importance of recording the minimum 4 pieces of CPD (a minimum of 20 CDP points) as without these they won’t be able to move to another job in GCS.

For all


Learning can take many forms and your development goal could be achieved by reading a piece of academic text or attending a full day training course. The PDP is yours to track your learning with your line manager and agree how you will develop yourself. Keep it up to date, it’s a live document so record your learning and any new skills you’ve acquired and use it to evidence that you have achieved or are achieving your learning goals.

The GCS website has a learning offer covering all MCOM areas, leadership and personal effectiveness.

Professional bodies offer training and guidance. Any activity undertaken as part of your membership of an organisation such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) or Chartered Institute of Marking (CIM) count towards your GCS CPD.

Civil Service Learning offers training and guidance on a broad range of Civil Service skills and you should look here for these in the first instance. If the learning isn’t specific to communications it won’t qualify as CPD but the PDP is for you to record all your development activities.

Above all, make sure you apply your learning and share it with others to help them develop their skills.

Communications or leadership specific activity Examples of activity

This is a guide to the types of activities you can complete to reach your target of 4 completed CPD activities

CPD points

The yearly total must be a minimum of 20 points

Training courses Attending a GCS Aspire training course 5 points for up to half a day/10 points for a full day
E-learning Completing the GCS evaluation e-learning 5 points for each session completed
Reading and reviewing an academic text, book or video Reading a book from Alex Aiken’s recommended reading list
Listening to a TED Talk
5 points for each short text/10 for a full book
Coaching and mentoring GCS Mentoring Scheme 5 points for each session as a mentor or mentee
Job shadowing Within or outside of your own organisation 10 points for each full day
Events Attending a GCS Comms Exchange event 5 points per session
Delivering training Developing and/or delivering an Aspire training course or an internal departmental specific training course 5 points for up to half a day/10 for a full day
Studying for a professional qualification Participation of GCS Inspire Talent programme (year 1) 20 points


Download your GCS Personal Development Plan

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