How to make sure CPD days pull their weight in schools

Time for continuing professional development may be a fixture in the school calendar, but the work doesn’t stop there, argues Alex Quigley
17th January 2020, 12:04am
How To Ensure Cpd Days Pull Their Weight

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How to make sure CPD days pull their weight in schools

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/how-make-sure-cpd-days-pull-their-weight-schools

Do CPD days actually make any difference? You would hope so, given that teachers spend so much time on them, but what does the research say?

We have a lot of research evidence about continuing professional development. But, in truth, much of it should give us pause: so many studies reveal that it simply doesn’t have the impact we might have hoped for.

A recent systematic review by Filges et al for the Campbell Collaboration, “Effectiveness of continuing professional development training of welfare professionals on outcomes for children and young people”, synthesises 26 studies that show little or no effect on pupil outcomes overall.

There has a been a resurgence of interest around promoting the importance of subject-specific CPD (at least in secondary schools). Does that fare any better? Although there is little doubt that subject knowledge has value, high-quality studies in the US - focused mainly on maths - have shown that even well-supported subject-specific CPD runs aground.

This shouldn’t put us off doing CPD at all or determine what we do here in the UK. But it should make us think harder about each and every training day, as well as our focus on professional development.

Over recent decades, a “consensus view” has emerged about the “active ingredients” that matter to teacher CPD. This consensus view is largely captured in the Department for Education’s standard for teachers’ professional development, which offers clear principles for making it more likely to succeed. These include CPD being: sustained over time as part of a repeated cycle; underpinned by robust evidence; and prioritised by the school leadership team.

So, when we plan CPD, we should ask: is this training just a one-off? And what evidence underpins our sustained training?

A bit like when joining a gym, teachers will likely need the coaching and ongoing support of a personal trainer if they are to take to their training and sustain a new habit in the classroom.

Indeed, the “consensus view” of teacher CPD has been challenged for not focusing enough on support such as in-school coaching. So, we should also ask ourselves about this when we plan CPD: what mentoring or coaching function are we putting in place?

What is completely clear is that we need to ensure that teacher CPD doesn’t go the way of the majority of New Year’s resolutions - trumpeted loudly in January but quietly forgotten by March.

Alex Quigley is a senior associate for the Education Endowment Foundation, a former teacher and the author of Closing the Vocabulary Gap

Find full references for this article at tes.com

This article originally appeared in the 17 January 2020 issue under the headline “How to ensure CPD days pull their weight”

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