Here at the Teacher Development Trust we’ve been collating the evidence about the effectiveness of professional development as a means of improving student outcomes and reducing inequality.
Why focus on professional development?
The research evidence is clear that the most important action that schools can take to improve outcomes for students is supporting their teachers to be more effective, and the most reliable way to achieve this is to develop a professional culture where teachers are continually adapting and refining their skills and methods. In a New Zealand study, classes where the teachers had taken part in high-quality professional development were improving twice as fast as those in other classes. Even more startlingly, the 20% of pupils who were deemed the ‘least able’ made improvements four to six times as fast as their peers in other classes. More generally, a 2007 study of several randomised controlled trials of well-designed CPD suggested it had an average Effect Size of +0.56 which would put it in the ‘High’ effectiveness grouping in the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit.
For more details, see our presentation on the reason for choosing professional development.
How good is the current provision of training and development for teachers?
In England, schools reported spending around £180million pounds on staff development and training. That’s just 0.5% of their budgets, equivalent to around £15 per student. Of this tiny amount, just under half was spent on cover teachers to free staff up for courses, so the actual spend was nearer £8 per student, from a budget of about £3000! Contrast that to the amount spent on entering students in exams (around £25) or textbooks (starting at around £20 for one copy).
Sadly, most of this money didn’t do much to help improve classroom practice. Research shows that the most common training involved sitting watching a PowerPoint and the most common reason for selecting a course was ‘the teacher wanted to go’ – not hugely systematic. When CUREE conducted a snapshot of training provision for the TDA, they found that barely 1% of training they looked at was effectively transforming classroom practice. Finally, in research from NFER, when teachers got back to classrooms only 7% of schools checked to see if there was any effect on student attainment.
On the whole, the most commonly booked courses tend to be in reaction to external threats and changes (e.g. Ofsted inspections, new regulations, changing exam syllabuses).
For more details, see our presentation on the state of CPD in England
Some articles and papers that would be helpful
- A summary of best-practice: GoodCPDGuide.com CPD Advice page
- Cordingley, P., Bell, M. (2012) Understanding What Enables High Quality Professional Learning: A report on the research evidence. CUREE and Pearson School Improvement. Available at: http://www.pearsonschoolmodel.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CUREE-Report.pdf
- Cordingley, P., Bell, M., Evans, D. & Firth, A. (2005) The impact of collaborative CPD on classroom teaching and learning. Review: What do teacher impact data tell us about collaborative CPD? In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=395&language=en-US
- Cordingley, P., Bell, M., Isham, C., Evans, D. & Firth, A. (2007) What do specialists do in CPD programmes for which there is evidence of positive outcomes for pupils and teachers? Report in: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=2275
- Cordingley, P., Bell, M., Rundell, B. & Evans, D. (2003)The impact of collaborative CPD on classroom teaching and learning. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=133&language=en-US
- Cordingley, P., Bell, M., Thomason, S. & Firth, A. (2005)The impact of collaborative continuing professional development (CPD) on classroom teaching and learning. Review: How do collaborative and sustained CPD and sustained but not collaborative CPD affect teaching and learning? http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=139
- London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/Default.aspx?tabid=392&language=en-US
- Opfer, V. Darleen and Pedder, David(2010) ‘Access to Continuous Professional Development by teachers in England’, Curriculum Journal, 21: 4, 453 — 471 http://www.darleenopfer.com/File/CJ%20Access%20article.pdf
- Opfer, V. Darleen and Pedder, David(2011) ‘The lost promise of teacher professional development in England’, European Journal of Teacher Education, 34: 1, 3 — 24 http://www.darleenopfer.com/file/EJTE%20Lost%20Promise%20FInal%20pdf.pdf
- Robinson, V. M. J. & Timperley, H. S. (2007) The leadership of the improvement of teaching and learning: Lessons from initiatives that have positive outcomes for students Australian Journal of Education. [Full article - paywall] [Summary]
- Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H. & Fung, I. (2007) Teacher professional learning and development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education. Available at: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/16901/TPLandDBESentire.pdf