5 ways to help teachers thrive

Commission led by the NAHT school leaders' union launches report on helping schools to improve teacher development

John Roberts

Teacher development: A major new report has called for a fundamental shift in CPD for teachers

A school leaders' union is calling for a "fundamental shift" in the way teachers are supported to improve, in a new report published today.

The NAHT-led School Improvement Commission says that it wants to ensure that every pupil is taught by an expert teacher.

It has announced its findings today in the major new report.

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Here are five ways in which the commission wants to ensure that "teachers can thrive".

1. Every school should have a CPD lead

The commission says that every school should prioritise staff development by designating a senior leader as the professional development lead.

The report says this role would be responsible for overseeing, coordinating and championing high-quality teacher professional development.

It adds that currently not all teachers and leaders have access to good CPD. 

2. Schools need to develop their own CPD experts

The report says that all professional development leads should have access to external support, research and case studies, to provide opportunities for them to develop their own understanding of, and expertise in, effective CPD.

The commission says it  "believes there needs to be a fundamental shift in policy, culture and practice so that high-quality CPD becomes the norm for all teachers, at every stage of their career".

3. Extend early career support to all teachers 

It also says the government should extend the commitment to funded support for new and recently qualified teachers to all teachers and leaders by 2025, as part of a new CPD entitlement for all teachers.

The report adds: "The government’s 2019 early career framework is a step in the right direction. It means all new teachers should have an entitlement to evidence-based professional development in the first few years of teaching. However, we need to go further and work towards an entitlement to CPD for all teachers and leaders."

The commission says that it supports a national commitment to a minimum CPD entitlement that is properly funded. 

4. Move away from quick-fix school improvement

The commission has said that "first and foremost, the role of the school leader is to create the conditions in which teachers can flourish and pupils can succeed".

It adds: "Yet in recent years this simple truth has, at times, become lost as additional responsibilities have become loaded on to the role and accountability pressures have driven activity that has more to do with being Ofsted-ready than improving teaching and learning." 

The report says headteachers need the confidence to "reassert their role as leaders of learning, ensuring positive cultures exist within schools and, critically, have the courage of their conviction when confronted with pressures for quick wins or faced with shifting goalposts".

5. Schools should not attempt 'drag and drop' approaches to improvement

The pressure to demonstrate rapid improvement has led to some schools adopting "drag and drop" approaches, where they attempt to copy and apply effective practice from other schools, the commission has found.

But it warns that this will not work without developing the expertise of teachers.

The report adds: "School improvement is not about a top-down, one-size-fits-all process. The commission believes that redefining school improvement away from short-term fixes and a search for magic bullets is important. We believe that a greater understanding of the research, combined with teachers’ professional knowledge of what works in their particular context, is critical to success."

The report also warns that the past decade has created a school system of winners and losers.

It urges the government to support partnerships between multi-academy trusts, local councils and maintained schools.

The report adds: "Progress towards a self-improving, school-led system, founded on deep partnerships, cocreation and local solutions has stalled.

"During the last decade, higher status schools have benefited from opportunities and resources available only to those with top inspection grades. Despite notable exceptions, too often these initiatives have simply reinforced local hierarchies and furthered the creation of winners and losers."

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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