What the resource is:
The study forms part of Phase 2 of the TDA CPD Leadership project, which was established to build an evidence base of how Local Authorities, the TDA and others currently support CPD leadership in schools. It builds on Phase 1 regional findings with the aim of establishing a national picture of CPD leadership and as such supports the Agency developing a strategy for the CPD of the whole school workforce.
The two phases of the TDA project can be summarised as follows:
- Phase 1 (TDA, 2007) reported a complex and changing balance between ongoing use of external provision in schools and growing recognition among CPD leaders that their role included developing coaching and mentoring internally, and capacity building.
- Phase 2 explores issues around effective CPD leadership and training and development needs with a national school survey to inform Phase 3 of the project.
The aims of the resource:
The study aimed to identify:
- the individual roles and responsibilities in CPD leadership
- the training and development experiences of those involved in CPD leadership
- Links made between the work of CPD leaders and in other key areas, such as performance management and review; developing schools' CPD priorities; school improvement and succession planning and preparation for new curriculum initiatives.
Key findings or focus:
The report largely confirms the Phase 1 regional findings that local practice in CPD can be extended nationally. It reveals several issues about the way that CPD, school improvement planning and performance management interlink and inform one another. The key messages that emerged from the research centre on three distinctive themes:
1. Roles and responsibilities:
- The prevalence of older and highly experienced teachers holding CPD leadership positions suggests that schools may wish to consider training and involving a younger cohort of CPD leaders while maximising the experience of the current cohort. More than two thirds of the respondents were 45 plus and the vast majority are white. Two thirds of the respondents were female.
- Schools have identified a need for more than one person to assume CPD responsibilities for staff. Further consideration should be given to providing training, information and support specifically for all those who are responsible for the professional development of support staff.
- Given the importance of CPD leaders taking on a more strategic role, it would be valuable to address cultural barriers in CPD Leadership programmes, information and training.
2. Training and support for CPD role:
- Local organisations and networks were consulted by CPD leaders more often than national organisations as sources of information. Overall, CPD leaders kept up with current developments for teachers more frequently than they did for support staff.
- CPD leaders' preferred support would be practical and proven methods, such as toolkits for training and development, CPD leadership induction packs, research evidence of effective practice, information on the provision of training and development and on the range of qualifications available.
3. CPD practice in schools:
- It seems that most schools are responding to the significance of the new Performance Management arrangements and the increasing links between CPD and whole school improvement.
- Most schools evaluated the impact of CPD and linked it to whole-school priorities, although their approaches differed.
- The most commonly used terms for describing training and development in schools were ‘CPD' and ‘professional development'. However, there were differences in which these terms were applied in relation to teaching and supporting staff, which may indicate different underlying conceptions of the CPD.
- CPD leaders recognise and seek to strengthen the links between CPD, school improvement planning and performance management, while also acknowledging the barriers to implementation.
- Capacity factors, such as time/workload and release of staff, were perceived as the most common barriers to provide effective the role of CPD leadership.
- Most respondents (96%) indicated that their school either ‘always' or ‘sometimes' evaluated the impact of CPD. Evaluation was most commonly made as a part of the performance review/process for support staff, the performance management process for teachers and in terms of impact on pupils' learning.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
The quality of the research is evident in a robust research design and systematic approach to data collection and analysis. It includes a focused review of research and policy documents, followed by a large scale postal and online survey involving CPD leaders from 732 primary, 624 secondary and 153 special schools. The sample of schools reflected the national profile in achievement, eligibility for free school meals, school and Local Authority type, geographical spread and school size. Three types of data analyses were conducted: basic descriptive statistics, factor analysis and regression.
The team conducting this study consisted of experienced NFER researchers, which further enhances the trustworthiness and integrity of the research.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
This is a particularly timely study, as the profile of CPD for all staff in schools has been significantly raised by a number of educational initiatives and developments. They include the Every Child Matters agenda, an increased emphasis on personalised learning and self-evaluation, new teacher professionalism, revised Performance Management and Performance Review arrangements, the introduction of new professional standards for teachers and occupational standards for staff supporting teaching and learning, and workforce remodelling. More recently, the introduction of M-level PGCE programmes and the new Masters in Teaching and Learning (MTL) qualification have added further impetus to developing CPD opportunities for teachers and other education professionals.
The NFER report states that while some schools have a narrow perspective of CPD, others have fully embraced the spectrum of opportunities to be generated for the entire school workforce. However, it also points out that the cultural, capacity and operational challenges confronting those involved in CPD provision are not to be underestimated. Meeting these challenges will involve changing staff perceptions of the value and nature of CPD, identifying needs, developing CPD opportunities, responding to specific initiatives and evaluating impact.
Although this study is comprehensive in scope and detail, one aspect of continuing professional development that has perhaps not received the attention it deserves is that of ITE partnerships and how they can play a key role in teachers' continuing professional development in school.
As has been shown by a study conducted by Hurd et al (2007), schools' involvement in ITE partnerships can have a positive impact on teachers' continuing professional development. Working with and supporting trainee teachers can indeed create a diverse range of opportunities for professional learning, which due to its informal and incidental nature often remains unrecognised (Jones, 2007). In this respect it is important to draw attention to the GTC TLA Mentor accreditation scheme, the CUREE Mentoring and Coaching framework and Postgraduate CPD provision offered by ITE providers.
The relevance to ITE students - how and why it has importance:
Although not addressed explicitly, the findings of this study also highlight the need for ITE students to perceive their pre-service preparation as the starting point of a continuum. With particular reference to the revised professional standards for teachers the findings of this study indicate that trainees need to take ownership of their professional learning and development right from the beginning and understand it as an integral part of their pre-service training. The new M-level PGCE courses provide them with this opportunity, as they contain aspects of critical enquiry into professional practice with the aim of enhancing the teaching and learning process for both pupils and teachers
Hurd, S, Jones, M., McNamara, O & Craig, B (2007) "Initial Teacher Education as a driver for professional learning and school improvement in the primary phase". Curriculum Journal, 18(3), 307-326 ISSN0958-5176
Jones, M. (2007) "Facilitating mentors' professional learning - the ‘hidden curriculum' of ITE partnerships'. Invitation to deliver key note at Association for Partnership. Teacher Education (APTE), York, 16-17 July.
McNamara, O, Webb, R & Brundrett, M (2008) Primary Teachers: Initial Teacher Education, Continuing Professional Development and School Leadership Development. Primary Review Research Survey (6/3), Cambridge: University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. ISBN 978-1-906478-26-1