Earlier this month, the Confederation of School Trusts published a paper on Professional Development in School Trusts – Capacity, Conditions and Culture. The authors were on the money with regards to the value of professional development (PD) to high quality teaching, as well as the challenges of delivery – a message we whole-heartedly share at DYT.

Meta-analysis by Fletcher-Wood and Zuccollo (2020) found that on average, participation in CPD made a similar difference to student learning as having a teacher with ten years’ experience. And in a previous paper on knowledge-building and school improvement, CST made four propositions, the third of which is that “there is no improvement for pupils without improvement in teaching, and no improvement in teaching without the best professional development for teachers.

If such a shift in professional learning could be realised, it could propel the quality of education for our young people beyond the deleterious effects of the pandemic.

So, why is securing the right CPD so difficult?

CST recognise that professional development is cost effective, better than one-to-one tutoring, and adds value to teachers, improving retention and saving on recruitment costs should teachers become disaffected and leave. So, why is the delivery of CPD continually challenging for trusts and schools, and more so since the onset of the COVID apocalypse? Their view – one we can all agree on – is that it’s hard.

The paper recognises the ability of school leaders to have a high degree of influence in setting the conditions and culture for professional development, but perhaps limited expertise and resources (capacity) to understand and subsequently meet the needs of staff. Taking this point up stream leads me to reflect on how a external provider can offer high quality content and then influence how it is implemented.

A collaborative approach to CPD

A collaborative approach between school trusts, individual schools and CPD providers can offer cost-effective professional development opportunities, rather than working in stove pipes.

At DYT, we recognise the importance of evidence-based, quality assured professional development. We work tirelessly to provide an approach that meets the needs of time-poor educators. More importantly, we advocate working in partnership with schools and trusts to increase capacity and improve conditions and culture. As the paper states, this can allow trusts ‘the ability to overcome the common barriers to effective teacher development’, and I hope, realise the significant benefits for our teachers and young people alike.

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with Bohunt Education Trust to evolve their whole-school literacy strategy. By providing key staff members with dynamic, tailored professional development in disciplinary literacy, they’ve seen increased engagement, motivation and confidence in both their learners and workforce. Read more about our work with Bohunt.

Richard Bryant, Director of Programmes

Richard has a wealth of learning and development experience across sectors, having served in the Army for sixteen years and subsequently in the healthcare sector for twelve years, firstly as the director of training at a medical royal college and then as a consultant providing programme management and business development expertise to an e-learning community interest company. He is a parent of children with SEND and understands how essential excellent teaching is to the outcomes of those with SEN and literacy difficulties and is passionate about making a difference.