How to meet the professional
development expectations

Across the United Kingdom, respective governments are demonstrating their commitment to teachers’ ongoing professional development. We consider the common threads in their expectations and how to meet them in your organisation.

The latest definition is from the Department for Education who has devised Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development (DfE, 2016). Read the full report here.

They state that effective teacher professional development is a partnership between:

  • Headteachers and other members of the leadership team;
  • Teachers;
  • Providers of professional development expertise, training or consultancy

In order for this partnership to be successful:

  1. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
  2. Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
  3. Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.
  4. Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.

And all this is underpinned by, and requires that:

       5. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

These standards draw on the views of other UK education departments who also highlight:

  1. That professional learning should be effectively based on data and research;
  2. That leaders nurture the learning needs of their colleagues and spot their potential;
  3. That educators are at the centre of their professional learning by: evaluating their starting point and development needs; being reflective; and measuring the impact of development they engage in;
  4. The importance of professional learning communities and best practice sharing across colleagues and organisations;
  5. The importance of sustaining professional learning over a teacher’s career.

Reflecting these in your own organisation

The Eight Pillars of Effective Student Informed Staff Continuous Professional Development and Learning (CPDL) Design (TDT, 2015)

The eight pillars are practical steps to designing a professional learning programme that supports the points above.

Pillar 1 - Audit staff needs and design a differentiated CPDL curriculum

In their guidance paper: Leadership of Professional Development and Learning, ASCL advises to focus a staff needs audit against your vision for curriculum and assessment. Whatever the focus of your audit, it is useful to have a focus, be it professional standards, your organisation’s standards, professional objectives or organisation development priorities.

Using software to audit staff need makes allocating specific self-reviews to groups of staff easier, as well as supporting peer review. Once the reviews are complete, reporting key gaps and strengths makes designing the CPDL curriculum more straight forward.

Pillar 2 - Duration and rhythm of professional learning

The Teacher Development Trust found that the most effective professional learning must last at least two terms and ideally, up to a year or longer. It must also include follow-up, consolidation and support activities.

Once your staff needs have been identified, they can be aligned to strengths in other staff to support collaboration and the sharing of best practice. Software is helpful here as ongoing development can be planned within it and be supported through coaching and mentoring.

Ensuring and measuring impact

Considering the expected short and longer term impact of professional learning is easier if it is defined before the learning begins. To support colleagues to understand how to measure impact, Education Scotland lists the key approaches and guiding principles for effective evaluation of impact here. Software supports colleagues by reminding them to consider and record the impact as well as any unexpected impact. Analysing impact across the organisation is easier to ensure value for money.

Pillar 3 - Differentiate and match CPDL programmes and activities to participant needs

It is easy to see that staff at different stages in their career will have different needs and the audits further identify these. Software enables you to direct specific development to different staff by type and for them to self-select, based on their own needs. Timetabling self-reviews, where staff revisit the audit, also supports colleagues to re-check their development needs.

Pillar 4 - Align CPDL programmes across the school or group of schools

The needs analysis gives you a whole-organisation view of staff needs as well as identifying strengths. If you are part of a federation, trust or teaching school alliance, you can review the needs analysis across the group to support the sharing of best practice across different staff.

Pillars 5, 6 and 7

These pillars ask you to devise the content, relevant activities and whether external support may be needed and how this should be managed.

Pillar 8 - Design for a collaborative endeavour

The Teacher Development Trust advises, “You’re much more likely to succeed in improving your teaching habits if you work with colleagues. You need to find time to identify ideas, share and discuss the progress of new ideas regularly, including trying out new approaches, plan lessons and interventions together, observe each other, examine work samples and assessments and keep adapting and improving. To do this you must allocate time for the regular giving and receiving of constructive feedback.”

Software supports staff to work together across different areas of the organisation or different organisations. Specific observations and work sampling activities can be recorded with colleagues working together in a mentoring environment. Line managers can review the progress of their staff through reporting and identify continued learning needs.

How SchooliP and CollegeiP help:

Everything we have discussed in this blog can be supported by the SchooliP and CollegeiP software and because it is online and available as a mobile app, staff remain at the centre of their own development. Line managers and senior leaders keep in touch with what is happening, can offer support when required and more easily identify potential.



Professional development expectations and guidance across the United Kingdom

England - Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development (2016). Department for Education.

Wales - The Professional Learning Passport (2015). Education Workforce Council.

The Professional Learning Model. Learning Wales.

Northern Ireland - Teaching professional learning strategy. Department of Education.

Scotland - Career Long Professional Learning. Education Scotland

Australia – Designing Professional Learning Report. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITL).

Developing Great Teaching - new report on effective teachers’ professional development (2015). Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE).

Find out more

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