CPD should be used as a tool to recruit experienced teachers to the challenging schools where they are most needed, a leading academic has suggested.
Professor Becky Allen, director of the Centre for Education Improvement Science at the UCL Institute of Education, said schools that serve the most disadvantaged communities are most likely to have teachers who are “unqualified, inexperienced, teaching outside their subject”.
She said this presented a dilemma for the profession because “we often place teachers into situations that are challenging and complex at exactly the time in their career when they are least able to deal with it”.
She told today’s Global Teacher Development Forum at Chobham Academy in East London: “We should think about using professional development as a recruitment device to send teachers to the places we want them to go at that point in their career when we want them to move.”
Under such a scheme, Professor Allen said teachers would have the incentive that “if they go there, they can access formal professional development”.
The impact of CPD for teachers
A number of speakers at the event raised concerns about the ineffectiveness of much current professional development for teachers, with Professor Allen saying there is a “very weak evidence base on what works”.
David Weston, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust, warned that CPD programmes would not be effective unless schools provided the right environment for teachers to use them.
He said there are some schools where “CPD ideas go to die because teachers have no time to work with each other, it’s not a nice place to learn, they are too scared to do anything wrong or make mistakes”.
He added: “The biggest thing we need to do is not so much to focus on more and more ideas, but we have to make schools places where teachers can learn.
“We have to make schools permeable, absorbent – they are taking these ideas in, they are actively making people think hard about their pedagogy and giving them time and space and trust to do that learning.”