Research into Teacher Effectiveness: A Model of Teacher Effectiveness

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What the resource is:
In June 1999, management consultants Hay McBer were commissioned by the DfEE (now the Department for Education) to analyse what effective teachers do in practice. Evidence was drawn from interviews, questionnaires, observation and focus-group discussions with teachers at three levels of professional development (main professional grade, through the threshold and outstanding teachers). The full report was sent to key organisations at the time (2000) and this shortened version was made available free of charge.


It identifies key factors in effective and outstanding teaching, presented through a three factor model of teacher effectiveness. Hay McBer's claim was that these factors account for over 30% of the variance in pupil progress. The report goes on to address the component parts of these factors in detail with the aid of examples, key questions and illustrative tables.


The aims of the resource:
The original purpose of Hay McBer's research was to generate discussion prior to the introduction of performance-related pay for teachers in summer 2000. Teachers were able to make applications to cross a threshold from the main professional grade to access a new upper pay scale; submitting evidence of their pupils' progress was central to the process. The report was intended to prompt reflection on how effective teaching and pupil learning are linked. The likely audience would have included threshold applicants, their headteachers and external threshold assessors.


Key findings or focus:
Hay McBer's research showed three main factors that are within teachers' control and which were claimed to significantly influence pupils' progress


  • teaching skills;
  • professional characteristics;
  • classroom climate.


The teaching skills were presented as 35 observable micro-behaviours, sorted into seven groupings that mirrored Ofsted inspection criteria, with additional evidence drawn from 'lesson flow' and 'pupil time on task'.


The most effective teachers showed particular combinations of professional characteristics from five clusters (professionalism, analytical and conceptual thinking, planning and setting expectations, leading and relating to others).


Classroom climate was measured in terms of collective pupil perception. The most significant classroom climate factors were lack of disruption, encouragement to engage and high expectations.


Outstanding primary teachers were judged to score more highly than their peers in high expectations, time and resource management, assessment and homework; high expectations, planning and homework were considered the most significant characteristics of effective secondary teachers.


The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
The report uses clear jargon-free terminology, and is easily navigated through a layout in which the constructed models are expanded into more detailed findings.


However, the rationale for these is a little unclear. The teaching skills clusters are attributed to unreferenced work by David Reynolds and other colleagues, while a rationale would similarly help the reader understand the origin of the five clusters of professional characteristics and the list of nine classroom climate dimensions.


The introduction describes the research methodology as comprising "complementary data-collection methods from different research traditions" (p.3). The validity of the findings are questionable though, given the small sample size, the need to combine data with that from another project (see report annex), and the short time scale in which to measure pupil progress. The credibility of the report would also be enhanced by an explanation of the causal link between the teachers' individual teaching behaviours and their pupils' progress; i.e. how the authors were sure that pupil progress was directly influenced by some teaching behaviours and not others.  


It does, however, need to be recognised that the report is largely consistent with earlier and subsequent literature on teacher effectiveness. In common with other teacher effectiveness studies, teacher behaviours are linked to pupil learning outcomes.


Effectiveness is a relative and politically contested term that is both outcome- and time-specific (Salmon, 1996). The pupil outcomes used as the measure of teacher effectiveness were beginning and end of year pupil test results. In an era where professionals are responsive to the Every Child Matters agenda, teachers holding a more holistic view of pupil achievement and well-being are likely to give less credence to a report underpinned by a narrower, contested cognitive measure.


While findings without reference to more recent pedagogic concepts such as inclusion or personalised learning may appear dated, the report does have currency in the teaching behaviours emerging. High expectations of pupils, for example, will always be valued.  


The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
There is much that mentors and tutors may find of value in the resource. It could facilitate links between teaching theory and classroom practice, offering a wealth of possible focal points that are highly relevant to ITE. The careful selection of particular teaching skills, characteristics or climate factors could generate valuable reflection and discussion of the students' own or observed practice.


The relevance to ITE students:
The findings of this report certainly merit consideration in relation to the teaching experiences of ITE students. This model enables consideration of the direct links between teaching and pupil progress, which may be less apparent within the QTS standards. It offers a rich range of potential focal points that could stimulate or support ITE students' understandings, individually or in groups.


Reviewed by:
Eamonn Pugh


Related Resources:
The following might be useful to read in conjunction with this resource:


CfBT and DfES Innovation Unit High Reliability Schools (accessed 16/5/10)


Sammons, P. (1996) Complexities in the judgement of school effectiveness. Educational Research and Evaluation, 2 (2) pp.113-149.

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Hay McBer

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