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The Effects of High-Quality Professional Development: A Review

04 Mar 2020

Reading the report from the Education Policy Institute on the effects of high-quality professional development on teachers and students, I was delighted to see the positive effect sizes of good quality CPD in schools. Most of the findings are not surprising; they are assumptions and beliefs many teachers, including myself, have held for a long time. I do, however, welcome these conclusions committed to writing and supported by evidence.

A problem with this article is that it is too short - I would have loved to see some great examples or even a definition of what the benchmark of high-quality CPD is, and also some case studies from schools where this research was done.

The key parts of this article, for me, are:

High-quality CPD has a significant effect on pupils’ learning outcomes, and it can help close the skills gap between early career teachers and experienced teachers.

If you invest in your early career teachers and provide them with effective mentors, you will see them develop and embed skills faster. This also establishes a culture of constant learning, which helps to hinder the mindset many early teachers have that everything they do has to be perfect right away.

High-quality CPD has a greater effect on pupil attainment than any other intervention from the school

Basically, good quality teaching from good quality CPD can be just as effective as any intervention. I do not believe this finding means that CPD means that you need no interventions but that being an evidence-informed teacher means you deliver more effective interventions, either inside or outside class, because you have a wider variety of techniques and resources at your fingertips. Naturally, this will lead to better outcomes for pupils.

High-quality CPD is a cost-effective intervention to improve outcomes.

Holding students back, one to one tuition and reducing class sizes are all very expensive interventions a school or teacher can run. By investing in teachers’ development long term, a teacher has the skills to plan and deliver lessons effectively, ensuring all pupils make progress from their starting point and thus improving outcomes.

High-quality CPD leads to a positive response from teachers and improves retention problems.

As a teacher, I loved CPD, as did every teacher I knew! Whether it was 15-minute forums during lunchtime, a full day out at course with lunch, or a network meeting with other History teachers, I came away enthused and ready to go back into the classroom.

These sessions are few and far between these days for many teachers, unfortunately. I too experienced many INSET sessions where I was bored stiff and desperate to be anywhere else, and when times got tough and I needed a larger variety of skills to deal with these challenges resiliently. But I didn’t have these skills and I burned out. Good management and good quality CPD would have enabled me to tackle the challenging times.

And if you are more effective and seeing impact and achievements, more resilient to deal with job pressures, you will be happier and less stressed. Schools are more likely to retain teachers if they develop them into effective, resilient teachers.

Access to high-quality CPD needs to be improved.

Budget cuts and pressures on school finances have led to a dearth in CPD provision; it’s harder than ever for teachers to go out of school for a course or meet with other teachers in the local area during the school day. High-quality CPD is essential, but how are teachers meant to access it?

We live in a digital world, where information can be accessed via a short search. More CPD needs to be available for teachers to access wherever, whenever. Not only will this improve access but will also help manage workload, as teachers can access at a time of their choosing.

Whole school implementation the best way to ensure high-quality CPD delivers the benefits outlined above

This is the theme that has been running all the way through the article, and through this blog. It is SLT’s responsibility to ensure staff have access to high-quality CPD. It is only from a top-down approach that all of these benefits can be seen (improving teacher retention, performance and wellbeing, and also improved outcomes for students). Budgets are tight, but SLT need to invest money and set aside time specifically for high-quality CPD. Just showing a PowerPoint is not enough. 

Although it is not clear in this article what the writer suggests is high-quality CPD, it is clear that if you read between the lines, the themes of CPD needing to be actionable, meaningful, accessible and academically based is what comes through in the end. OneStep prides itself in providing all four key themes of great CPD.

How can OneStep help?

Actionable:

By developing your skills and knowing what works for you, you will have an arsenal of techniques to draw upon when you face challenges. And if you come across a challenge you have never met before (e.g. a particularly challenging class, a pupil who can’t retain knowledge) you can search our bank of courses to find a new technique you may not have tried to see if it has an impact.

Meaningful:

As OneStep focusses on how you deliver content and evaluate what works best for you and your pupils, we upskill you quicker. (For example, Regular Subject Knowledge Tests, Targeted Questioning, Stop Saying “Do You Understand?”).

We can integrate easily and effectively into school life, and our CPD specialists are always on hand to help where needed.

Accessible:

We are a completely digital platform. No issues with missing paper records, or time or location constraints. 

And as OneStep is a free service, how much more accessible and cost-effective can you get?

Academic:

All of our courses based on academic research and/or tried and tested methods. We save you time from reading long articles or books to try and find the action required.


To sign up for a no-obligation 15-minute webinar, click here. To sign up straight away to our free service, click here.


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All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily OneStep CPD.

OneStep CPD is a trading name of Twinkl Ltd. Twinkl Ltd. is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 07201458 at Wards Exchange, 197 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, England, S11 8HW