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High-quality professional development for teachers shown to significantly boost pupil attainment

New research by EPI and Ambition Institute shows that:

  • High quality Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for teachers is as effective for improving pupil outcomes as having a teacher with a decade’s experience in the classroom.
  • Quality CPD programmes have a greater impact on pupil outcomes than performance-related teacher pay or lengthening the school day.
  • Increasing the availability of high quality CPD is likely to improve acute teacher retention problems, particularly for early career teachers.
  • CPD programmes are more effective if they receive sustained support from school leaders and are able to adapt to high staff turnover and teacher workloads.

For their definition of ‘high quality CPD’, The researcher’s used the Department for Education’s Standard for Teacher Professional Development which say in order to be successful, CPD ought to:

  • have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes;
  • be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise;
  • include collaboration and expert challenge;
  • be sustained over time;
and all of this is underpinned by, and requires that:
  • professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

Where the new research stops short however, is looking at the areas where we know teachers have the greatest need for high quality CPD.

A 2018 teacher poll conducted by the DfE revealed that 25 per cent say there is no appropriate training in place for teachers in supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs. This is corroborated by 2019 TeacherTapp data that shows nearly one in five teachers do not feel confident teaching learners with an identified special educational need or disability and over a third had not received any SEND CPD in in the past year.

Add into this mix that most SEND CPD is conducted in-house and few, if any of the Standard for Teacher Professional Development are being met when it comes to SEND.

Commenting on the new research, Driver Youth Trust’s CEO Chris Rossiter said “we welcome this new research; we have long believed that high quality CPD is essential for the profession and we are aware that the need for this is greatest when it comes to supporting teachers work with pupils with special educational needs. Yet we know that not enough teachers are receiving CPD related to SEND, and for those that do, the experience is rarely ‘high quality’. We hope that this study will go some way toward changing this.”

Karen Wespieser, Director of Operations

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