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Teacher CPD – Is it time to start policing the providers?

Katy Chedzey explains why a system of quality assurance could be the key to improving standards of teacher CPD...

  • Teacher CPD – Is it time to start policing the providers?

To put it simply, teacher quality really matters.

If we want to improve outcomes for pupils in our schools, we need to ensure they receive high-quality teaching – which means teachers need access to high-quality professional development experiences.

However, a recent report by the Education Policy Institute tells us that teachers in the UK complete less professional development than their international counterparts, and that much of the professional development that teachers do engage with isn’t of sufficiently high quality.

Robust criteria for CPD

So what can we do to improve the quality of professional development that teachers experience? At the Chartered College of Teaching, we’ve been working with the Teacher Development Trust and Sheffield Institute of Education (part of Sheffield Hallam University) to design and pilot a system for quality assuring teachers’ CPD.

Drawing from the evidence base around effective professional development, the system is underpinned by a set of robust quality assurance criteria, covering key areas such as the intended impact of the CPD; how schools are supported to implement CPD; and whether the CPD is designed in a way which would facilitate long-term changes to practice.

The criteria also consider some of the more practical elements relating to CPD delivery. For example, providers are expected to show how they engage in effective monitoring, evaluation and ongoing improvement to the CPD they offer.

Self-governing CPD

When completing the quality assurance process as part of the pilot, CPD providers were asked to submit a portfolio of evidence demonstrating how they met each of the quality assurance criteria.

These portfolios were then assessed by a trained panel of reviewers made up of teachers, school leaders, CPD providers and other professionals with expertise in quality assurance and CPD.

Panel members were trained and supported through the process, and evaluation suggests they were able to use the criteria effectively to make valid judgements about the quality of CPD provision.

Within the pilot, the panel was overseen by staff from the Chartered College of Teaching and Teacher Development Trust; in the long-term, the aim would be for the assessment processes to be overseen by a governance committee or an assessment board.

This board, like the review panel, would include significant representation from teachers and school leaders, alongside CPD providers who had undertaken the process – so that ultimately, the system would be self-governing.

Value and benefits of a new CPD system

Of course, launching a CPD quality assurance system wouldn’t be without its challenges. The review panel will need to be highly skilled in evaluating evidence and applying the quality assurance criteria.

The quality assurance criteria themselves will need to be applicable and relevant to all types of CPD provider, including schools that are now delivering an increasing amount of CPD in-house.

Most importantly, the quality assurance system will need to be useful and of value to all those engaging with it. An indirect benefit for providers is that the process has the potential to be developmental, offering a clear framework which can be used to support reflection, evaluation and development in a systematic way.

For teachers and school leaders, the criteria offer a framework that can be used to inform decision making around CPD, saving time and money which might otherwise be wasted on less effective professional development activities.

Evaluation from the pilot indicates that the perceived value and benefits of a CPD quality assurance system is high, and that there’s the potential for a system to be rolled out into the sector that can make a real difference to how teachers experience CPD.

Such a system would set a high bar for quality, and once established, should drive improvement in the CPD marketplace. School leaders will thus be able to commission CPD that’s more likely to meet the needs of their school, individual teachers, and ultimately the needs of pupils.

Katy Chedzey is head of teaching, learning and assessment at the Chartered College of Teaching; for more information, visit chartered. college or follow @CharteredColl.

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