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CPD Framework

Teacher Development Trust has developed a CPD Quality Framework that lays out what makes effective CPD. It is split into seven sections. Some criteria are double or triple weighted (denoted by green or blue stars), where there is the strongest evidence base. This framework is the basis for our CPD Audit and we have grouped our resources around this.

Click on the relevant criteria below for further guidance on each statement.

1. Culture and Wellbeing

★★ [toggle title=”a. There is a clear vision of effective professional development in the organisation and its positive impact on pupil outcomes.” collapse=”collapse”]

Why is it important to have a clear vision of effective professional learning?

There needs to be a culture where professional learning is prioritised and all staff understand the importance of CPD. CPD is not just about fixing problems and it is not just for the benefit of teachers – it is about supporting teachers to best meet their students’ needs and is one of the best things you can do to improve student outcomes.

It is also important to understand what effective CPD looks like so that staff can engage in evidence-informed practice and can be discerning commissioners and consumers of any external CPD.


How can you support a clear vision of effective professional learning?

  1. Clearly communicate the importance of effective CPD and the nature of effective CPD. Whilst you don’t want to spend too long lecturing staff on it, it is important that this is consistently referred back to, creating an environment where staff prioritise it.
  2. Invest in CPD. Staff will believe that CPD is a priority if they see that time and money is spent on it.
  3. Model your own CPD. Similarly, staff will believe that CPD is a priority if they see that you prioritise it.

Explain the theory behind any new approaches and ideas in CPD. Make it clear why you might be introducing a new CPD model – because it is more likely to benefit students.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”b. Leaders model and participate in CPD both formally and informally.” collapse=”collapse”]

Why Is It Important For Leaders To Model CPD?

It is important that professional development is prioritised and valued within school. Effective CPD has a powerful impact on pupil outcomes, it can help teachers thrive, and it can bring about school improvement. It is not unlikely that some teachers will have had poor experiences from ineffective CPD at some point; often it is necessary to promote the value of CPD.

Nothing does this more powerfully than leaders clearly making the time, prioritising and taking part in their own professional learning. This shouldn’t be limited to career development, leaders should be lead learners, also engaged in developing their practice in the classroom.

To build a supportive and trusting culture, it is also important to demonstrate that leaders are also prepared to be vulnerable and are also seeking to improve – no one is ‘done’ in terms of improving their practice.

How Can Leaders Model Their CPD?

  1. Engage in CPD processes that other staff engage in, not just by delivering the CPD, but by participating fully.
  2. Make yourself vulnerable and build trust and confidence in your staff by participating in potentially vulnerable processes (e.g. peer observation etc.)
  3. Talk about any professional learning you are engaged in with colleagues.
  4. Share learning from any accreditation you or colleagues might be part of (e.g. MA, leadership training etc.).
  5. Prioritise professional learning by providing time and providing cover, as well as making it key to your vision for the school.

Watch out for missing CPD for other things.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”c. Staff feel that they have an input into the decisions made around the vision of the CPD across the organisation.” collapse=”collapse”]

Why is it important for staff to feel that they have an input into decisions around CPD?

There are two reasons here. First, staff are more likely to engage in professional learning that they feel is relevant and when they have had input. Second, and more importantly, those who spend the most time with students, parents and the community (teachers and support staff) are best placed to identify student needs. Professional learning should be driven by student and staff needs and it is important that staff have the opportunity to drive their own professional learning but also feed into the wider school direction. Collated school data only reveals so much and gathering the insight of staff on the ground is vital.


How can staff have an input into CPD?

  1. Staff will have a variety of experiences and areas of expertise and therefore it is important that all staff feel that they can contribute and deliver CPD on their own areas of expertise. This contributes to a learning culture. Even 15 minute forums where staff share brief aspects of practice can contribute to this.
  2. Ensure that appraisal and line management conversations are fed into CPD, where appropriate.
  3. Surveys and focus groups are a good way of gathering staff input.
  4. Having a Teaching and Learning Group made up of staff with a range of different experience allows for more staff input.
  5. Encourage and empower staff to identify needs in their classroom and use this to focus their own CPD.


This articleTeacher choice in whole-school CPD, explores this further.


Blog, David Weston: Overcoming Barriers to Professional Learning – Top down decision making.

This blog explores how top down decision making processes can be a barrier to effective professional learning.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”d. Staff feel free to take risks and innovate in their practice.” collapse=”collapse”]

What Do We Mean By Disciplined Risk-Taking?

  1. In order to develop and make changes to your practice, you need to feel confident trying things out, being innovative and, on occasion, trying things that don’t work. It is important to build a culture of taking risks and trying things out.
  2. Yet you don’t want everyone trying out lots of different things for no reason. You need to build an evidence-informed culture so that colleagues innovate using approaches that have a strong evidence-base behind them.
  3. Finally, after trying something new, colleagues should be evaluating the impact of the approach, refining it and embedding it so that it becomes part of the way that they work.

How Can You Support Disciplined Risk-Taking?

  1. Celebrate trying out something new, even if it does not work. It is just as important to know what doesn’t work as what does.
  2. Model innovation and risk-taking in your own practice.

Particularly if this is new to people, encouraging ‘innovation weeks’ or ‘innovation lessons’ can prompt people to consider new ideas and strategies.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”e. There is a culture of teaching and support staff welcoming peer observation and feeling welcomed to peer observe.” collapse=”collapse”]

Why Is It Important That Peer Observation Is Welcomed?

Peer observation is often well established in schools, but often the culture is not truly developmental. If colleagues do not welcome peer observation, it means that

  • they don’t see it as a valuable process;
  • they often don’t feel free to innovate and take risks in their practice during an observation; and
  • they feel threatened and the lesson becomes an unrepresentative lesson from which limited learning can be taken.

To build a welcoming culture of peer observation

  • ensure that leaders model best practice around professional learning and take part in the process themselves;
  • ensure that the observation is focussed on pupils and on some pedagogical learning, rather than judging the teacher themselves; and
  • emphasise the learning and developmental nature of observation, including taking the learning from things that don’t work in the way that was expected.

You can find out more about using peer observation through collaborative enquiry and Lesson Study elsewhere on the Portal.

Lesson Observation Without Grades

The Teacher Development Trust, has engaged extensively in the debate on effective Lesson Observation. Harsh grading and formalised rigour can be demotivating, while there are many other ways which can be effective. The links below are excellent starting points for thinking over how Lesson Observation can be a force for good rather than dread.

Beyond Lesson Observation – Mary Myatt (lead inspector for Ofsted, adviser, writer and trainer) shares her four suggestions for schools to create evidence which is robust, fair and does not rely on individual lesson observation grades.

O’Leary, M. (2012) ‘Time to turn worthless lesson observation into a powerful tool for improving teaching and learning’ InTuition p.16 [/toggle]

[toggle title=”f. Staff feel comfortable and encouraged to share and discuss practice.” collapse=”collapse”]

It is important to develop a culture where all staff feel confident sharing ideas and practice. This does not only rely on having structures and processes to do so, but also a confidence amongst staff. Sharing practice on its own is not sufficient to have an impact on students, but it is an important part of a developmental culture that needs to be in place before other more complicated processes can work.

  • One way to build this is to encourage newer or beginning members of staff to contribute and show that all contributions are valued.
  • It is also powerful when leaders model this behaviour and show that they are prepared to be vulnerable and open to critique.

Once this culture is in place, it is then important to build beyond sharing.

  • Staff should begin to feel comfortable criticising one another in a productive way (e.g. challenging the evidence-base etc.)
  • The risk of sharing practice is that it never gets beyond being shared and isn’t embedded or refined – build in follow up reflective practices to ensure that there is an impact on pupil learning.

Blog, David Weston: Teach Meet Collaborate

Blog, David Weston: Should schools be required to schedule staff collaboration time? [/toggle]

[toggle title=”g. Staff feel supported to grow and develop in their personal career development.” collapse=”collapse”]

Later in the framework we talk about there being processes for career development. It is important under culture to unpick whether these processes are understood and valued by staff. There should be a culture of staff developing.

  • Ensure that multiple career routes are promoted, for example, there should be routes within pastoral roles, within leadership roles, as well as within teaching and learning and expertise in the classroom.
  • Ensure that both support staff and teaching staff are supported.
  • Enable staff to understand their options – there should be real clarity around all routes.
  • Promote trusting and open relationships around appraisal/performance management.
  • Be aware of inclusion – career opportunities shouldn’t only come to those who are particularly vocal or proactive.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”h. Both formal and informal conversations around teaching and learning are frequent.” collapse=”collapse”]Informal conversations will not in themselves have an impact on student outcomes. However, it forms an important part of a culture where staff value and discuss their CPD and their student needs. It allows staff to identify colleagues they might collaborate with, helps them hear about new research or ideas and reflects how much of a priority it is in school.


There is no easy way to develop this culture, but some tips that might help:

  • Sharing and celebrating ideas in areas where staff gather, such as the staffroom. Perhaps a white board where staff can add ideas, or a noticeboard where staff can ask questions or whether anyone has any ideas on a particular topic (remember that leaders need to model this!).
  • Providing sustenance. Tea, coffee, biscuits, or even hot toast can go a long way in encouraging people along to focus groups, informal discussions and collaborative time in general.

Promote it yourself – share an aspect of your practice you’re looking for ideas for, discuss how things are going for you and model some vulnerability.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”i. Peer relationships, formal and informal, are seen as valuable, helpful and fruitful.” collapse=”collapse”]

Again, peer relationships on their own will not benefit student outcomes. Unfocussed collaboration is not necessarily a good use of time. Yet without trust and positive peer relationships, focussed collaboration is not possible.


It is important to build trust and a culture of sharing and collaborating.

  • Provide time and/or cover for staff to peer observe one another,
  • Use meeting time for collaboration and celebrate different ideas and contributions from staff, so that staff feel welcomed to contribute.

Ensure there is space for staff to meet, both informally over breaks or for focussed planning or discussion.[/toggle]

2. Focus

★★★ [toggle title=”a. Staff feel that their CPD across a year allows for focussed, sustained and iterative changes to key areas.” collapse=”collapse”]

The Developing Great Teaching report suggests that CPD should have a clear focus, and should be sustained over time with iterative opportunities for input and development. Too often, we see teachers who feel that they have too much to focus on and that there isn’t time to develop and embed their practice.


Research shows that for effective professional learning to have an impact on pupil outcomes, colleagues need to be spending c.30-50 hours and our recent report found that the most effective CPD lasted at least 2 terms, more usually a year. More limited change on very specific learning tasks could be achieved through shorter-term interventions, but to transform general practice, longer duration seems key. However, longer duration in itself is not sufficient – the use of time in a longer term programme is key.

  • School leaders must ensure that staff are given time to engage with longer term programmes – to cover not only a programme’s initial input but also subsequent in-class experimentation and collaboration with colleagues.
  • Leaders must support an approach to professional development in which staff are encouraged to focus strategically and meaningfully on particular areas of learning and practice over time.
  • When engaging with external facilitators, leaders should move away from a model of one-off, one-day support – and consider how to embed sessions within a longer programme of support and engagement.


Research shows it is important that professional development programmes create a “rhythm” of follow-up, consolidation and support activities. This process reinforces key messages sufficiently to have an impact on practice. The specific frequency of activities varied across studies, but the key aim remained constant – teachers were able to grasp the rationale that underpinned the strategy being explored, and use this understanding to refine practices and support implementation.

  • School leaders should plan iterative, cyclical development opportunities over time, to allow staff to develop, refine and improve on a focussed area.
  • When engaging with external partners, leaders should look for programmes that allow for frequent, meaningful engagement from participants. Programmes must be underpinned by strong evidence and a clear rationale; time must be taken to surface participants’ own theories and align these with those of the programme. Providers should consider how they develop participants’ skills to critically engage with this knowledge base, and balance this with opportunities to implement and apply to practice. [/toggle]
★★ [toggle title=”b. There is a balance between CPD relating to subject knowledge, subject pedagogy, general pedagogy and curriculum that meets both teaching staff and pupil needs.” collapse=”collapse”]

Research shows that CPD focussed on general pedagogy is not sufficient; it should include a balance of

  • subject knowledge;
  • subject-specific pedagogy;
  • clarity around learner progression, starting points and learner progression; and
  • content and activities to help teachers understand how pupil learn, both in general and in specific subject areas.

Through the ‘whole school’ model of professional development, subject specific professional development is often neglected. Remember to utilise faculty and department time and expertise to support addressing this.

We recommend that teachers and other practitioners engage with their relevant subject or specialist association – see our list here.


In general it is helpful for schools to create structured subject meeting time to discuss:

  • the best approaches to teach specific topics including common errors/misconceptions/difficulties, different ways to check for understanding (formative assessment) and necessary prior understanding;
  • expectations of what is possible for different types of students to learn/understand/achieve in different topics and how this relates to the department’s aspirations for students, drawing on inspiring and challenging examples of what is possible from other schools;
  • question-level data from tests/assignments/exams to identify specific challenges in topics or skills and then plan to improve and refine teaching in this area;
  • work samples, video clips of lessons and pupil feedback around specific topics or lessons, with time to plan changes in teaching; and
  • reflections on lessons or assessments that had been jointly planned, drawing in learning and planning further improvements.

All of this discussion should be supported by well-trained coaches/facilitators and should draw upon subject-specific expertise and advice where possible.


Blog Point of View, Alex Quigley: In defence of cross-curricular CPD

Blog Point of View, Tessa Matthews: We should have less cross-curricular CPD

Blog, David Weston: Should we stop CPD about teaching techniques?

Blog, Phil Stock, Network Member Greenshaw High School: 10 ideas for developing subject knowledge and pedagogy

Article from SecED including a worked example of changing a purely generic CPD session into something more pupil-focussed and subject-specific: David Weston – CPD and your subject.[/toggle]

★★ [toggle title=”c. CPD meets the needs of pupils and teaching staff in relation to subject pedagogy and assessment.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD should include time for staff to contextualise their professional learning to their specific subjects. CPD content should include a focus on formative assessment so that teachers can see the impact of their learning and work on their pupils. Generic pedagogy is often insufficient to have the full impact on pupil outcomes.


  • Make sure that any CPD activities include discussion of what assessments you might use to measure the impact of that CPD.

Be really specific – summative tests tend to be too broad to diagnose specific aspects of the curriculum or specific skills (such as decoding).[/toggle]

[toggle title=”d. CPD meets the needs of pupils and teaching staff in relation to subject knowledge.” collapse=”collapse”]

This criteria is designed to identify which aspects of CPD staff feel are being met and which aspects perhaps are not. There should be opportunities for staff to develop their subject knowledge in terms of content and specific knowledge around common misconceptions and prior learning of students.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”e. CPD meets the needs of pupils and teaching staff in relation to general pedagogy and evidence of how pupils learn.” collapse=”collapse”]

This criteria is designed to identify which aspects of CPD staff feel are being met and which aspects perhaps are not. There should be opportunities for staff to develop their knowledge of key pedagogical ideas around how children learn and retain their learning.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”f. CPD meets the needs of pupils and teaching staff for development around curriculum/exam knowledge.” collapse=”collapse”]

This criteria is designed to identify which aspects of CPD staff feel are being met and which aspects perhaps are not. There should be some opportunities for staff to develop their knowledge of exam specifications, although this should not be the only aspect of subject knowledge that they develop.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”g. There is effective CPD in relation to wellbeing, behaviour and attendance. For example, for form tutors and those with particular pastoral roles.” collapse=”collapse”]

This criteria is designed to identify which aspects of CPD staff feel are being met and which aspects perhaps are not. There should be opportunities for all staff to develop their pastoral expertise, not just those staff who have particular pastoral roles. There should also be routes for staff to develop into a pastoral role, should they wish to.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”h. There is effective CPD available for those support staff who work directly with children.” collapse=”collapse”]

Teacher development is becoming a huge priority for the most effective schools but we need to ensure that support staff aren’t missing out. CPD for support staff who work directly with children, such as teaching assistants and pastoral workers, shares similar key principles to CPD for teaching staff. In fact, it is often appropriate for support staff to collaborate with teaching colleagues, particularly when they are working day-to-day with the same children with the same needs.

  • Cultivate a culture of learning. Make sure time and resource is provided for support staff to collaborate, ensure effective performance management structures are in place and cultivate a belief that professional learning is valued, where staff feel safe to experiment and try things out, and where staff feel valued as professionals.
  • Ensure professional learning is driven by and linked to pupil needs. This means that support staff who work with children, just like teachers, should engage in identifying pupil needs and directing their learning accordingly. Throughout any professional learning activity, staff should consider the pupils who they expect to benefit, and then in their practice they should experiment with new strategies and evaluate whether it has met the expected impact.
  • Engage in the theory and the practical context of your learning. Effective professional learning includes both engaging in the theory and evidence, as well as contextualising and embedding it in your own practice. This can be supported through collaboration with HEIs, direct engagement with research, input from experts, using research summaries or colleagues in school to support the dissemination of research.

Enable opportunities for expert input. All staff should have access to external input and challenge, including opportunities to visit other schools, access to evidence-informed input, and the opportunity to seek out different approaches and strategies. The National Association of Professional Teaching Assistants, the Teaching Assistant Standards, subject associations, the Specialist SEND Association, and the EEF Teaching Assistant Guidance can all be helpful sources for this.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”i. There is effective CPD available for general/admin support staff.” collapse=”collapse”]

General support staff who do not work directly with children are often neglected in terms of professional development. Some things to remember are

  • Opportunities to gain new knowledge and use the most evidence-informed up to date approach.
  • Time and support to take back any new knowledge from a course, lecture etc. into their regular practice.
  • Performance management and appraisal that supports their professional learning.
  • Career development, considering further accreditation, job shadowing, mentoring and coaching etc.
  • Chance to share best practice, model best practice and collaborate. Often support staff don’t have meeting times.

Sadly, it is quite rare to see non-teaching staff given much role in school improvement projects and action research. Yet, when schools have done this it can result in significant engagement and improvements. For example, one colleague at a large school was given the time to research how different organisations approach performance management. With a team of colleagues, she then re-designed how appraisal works to be more in line with evidence-informed approaches. Similarly, in another school, the school receptionist was encouraged, after giving feedback, to re-design how school events worked, which resulted in higher parental attendance and the day went much more smoothly.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”j. There is effective CPD available for governors.” collapse=”collapse”]

In addition to being informed about CPD, governors also require high quality CPD. Most of this will be about informing them and giving them new knowledge, so will be quite a different format to CPD for staff. However, it is no less important.

You will find that a lot of CPD for governors will be internal, ensuring that they understand the school’s specific context. However, there are also a number of external partners to collaborate with.

Gov.Uk School governors – professional development

Gov.Uk – Licensees professional development for school governors

Modern Governor – online training for school governors

Gel – collaborative online development for school governors [/toggle]

3. Needs Analysis and Evaluation

★★ [toggle title=”a. Teaching staff feel supported to analyse and feedback the needs of their pupils to inform the school’s CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD should be pupil focussed and staff should feel their overall professional learning relates closely to the pupils that they teach. In planning CPD, school leadership should be informed not only of staff needs, and not only from overall pupil data, but also from the professional judgements and individual data on pupils that teachers have access to. Teachers and support staff spend the most time with students so are best placed to identify pupil needs and should be supported and encouraged to do this. These needs should not relate to headline pupil figures (e.g. closing the gap, or 80% A* – C), but should relate to day-to-day experiences and aspirations for pupils.


Performance management, surveys, team and subject collaboration and informal conversations can all be used to gather this information.[/toggle]

★★★ [toggle title=”b. Formative evaluation takes place at a micro level undertaken by individual staff.” collapse=”collapse”]

In addition to wider evaluation of CPD activities and programmes, staff should regularly be carrying out a formative evaluation of the impact of their CPD and new approaches that they take on pupils. This is a crucial part of the process of learning itself; identifying the impact of changes to your practice.

Models that can support this include Lesson Study, collaborative enquiry and action research.[/toggle]

★★★ [toggle title=”c. CPD processes are matched against pupil learning needs, so that staff’s CPD is relevant to the particular pupils they work with.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD is often driven by headline pupil data. For example, school priorities might include ‘literacy’, or ‘underachieving boys’. Whilst this obviously relates to pupils, it doesn’t always translate to pupil focussed CPD. When engaging in CPD, staff should have target pupils in mind, with a view to planning to meet these pupils’ needs, and evaluating the impact on their progress.

  • Encourage staff to begin any CPD with target pupils in mind.
  • Ensure any observations are pupil focussed.
  • Ensure that conversations around CPD and performance management include discussions around specific pupils.
  • Refer to pupil data regularly.
  • Discuss ‘what success would look like for pupils’. Often CPD focuses on teacher practice (e.g. how teachers give feedback) without exploring what impact is expected in terms of pupil outcomes.

Evaluation is not possible after a process if you haven’t identified the area of need and what success would look like before the process![/toggle]

★★ [toggle title=”d. CPD is evaluated against pupil outcomes.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD should be planned for and evaluated against the needs of pupils. These needs can be academic, but can also relate to various behaviours and attitudes. This evaluation should take place at a macro level across the school and a micro level within the classroom. Classroom level evaluations should be collated to identify trends.


Examples of what you might evaluate:

  • Specific changes to student work, such as use of complex tenses, use of technical vocabulary, better long answer questions.
  • Specific measures such as attendance, lateness or behaviour points.
  • Changes in behaviour such as number of times on/off task, length of time taken to start work, number of times contributed to the lesson (peer observation of students would be important here).
  • Feedback from student interviews.

Rigorous focus on how students are achieving the curriculum and where common misconceptions are.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”e. CPD matches the needs of staff.” collapse=”collapse”]

Meeting Staff Needs

There is often a worry amongst CPD Leaders about how to balance individual staff needs with overall school needs. Whilst there will also be personal interests and career priorities, when looking at really pupil focussed needs within a classroom, school and individual priorities will overlap. It is important to use staff input when putting together CPD priorities to help with this.

In order to monitor staff needs and adapt your CPD provision accordingly, here are some tips:

  • Don’t rely on one big annual survey of staff alone – it will most likely only reflect the most recent development opportunities.
  • Use performance management and appraisal to guide you.
  • Use focus groups and indicate that you are open to feedback.
  • Ensure that career development opportunities are transparent.
  • Enable to staff to engage in ‘teacher driven’ CPD, such as Lesson Studycollaborative enquiry, research etc.

Some key areas of need to consider:

  • How can we challenge our expectations about what is possible for students like ours?
  • What support is needed to develop the careers of staff members – e.g. developing specialist knowledge, leadership or engaging in research.
  • What expert input and support is needed to develop, deepen and update subject knowledge and subject pedagogy?
  • What training (or refreshing) is needed for our systems and policies?
  • What statutory training is needed? [Note: this shouldn’t displace other CPD activities but be in addition].
  • How can we develop and deepen our understanding of assessment and evaluation?
  • How can we develop and extend our understanding of the latest evidence about effective teaching, both general pedagogy and within subjects and specialisms (including SEND).
  • What activities will we engage in to ensure that we are up-to-date with sector policies, initiatives, technologies and innovations?
  • How are we developing leadership skills and knowledge, both in existing leaders and more widely?[/toggle]
[toggle title=”f. Staff satisfaction with CPD is evaluated.” collapse=”collapse”]

The first part of evaluating a CPD activity or programme is to identify whether staff were initially satisfied. Whilst this is by no means the extent of the evaluation, if the initial delivery was unsatisfactory anything from then onwards won’t happen. For example, if it was deemed irrelevant or if someone couldn’t hear anything that was said, there’s no way that they will have learnt anything new that will change their practice and benefit students. It’s important to check whether this stage has happened.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”g. There is evaluation of the impact of CPD on staff’s learning and practice.” collapse=”collapse”]

This is then the second stage of evaluating a CPD activity or programme. Have staff learnt anything new and have they changed their practice? It important to evaluate this over time (i.e. not just immediately after a session). It is also important to evaluate why something might not have had an impact on practice – is it due to lack of organisational support? Is it because of lack of understanding?


Evaluation should include summative consideration (has this worked), as well as formative evaluation (how has this worked and could it be improved).


If you’re focussed on student learning, evaluation of change in practice is not sufficient. There should also be some evaluation of the impact on students.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”h. A range of methodologically sound evaluation methods are carefully selected and used.” collapse=”collapse”]

When considering evaluation of CPD, it is useful to use Guskey’s five levels:

  1. Participant Reaction
  2. Participant Learning
  3. Organisation and Support
  4. Participant Practice
  5. Student learning outcomes

All of these are important, as each level builds on the one before. If teachers find a session hard to hear, they probably won’t have learnt anything new, so are unlikely to change their practice and impact on student learning outcomes. It can be helpful to consider all of these levels.

This article from SecEd, Five principles to help you evaluate your CPD, explores this further.

You might also want to consider who is involved in evaluation. Effective evaluation of CPD includes ‘macro’ evaluation across the school (e.g. looking at overall learning outcomes) but, at least as importantly, micro evaluation in the classroom where teachers are involved in evaluating their own practice. Lesson Study and enquiry are good ways of enabling this.

Here we share different examples from schools to show how they have measured and evaluated a variety of processes including participant reaction, participant learning, organisational support and challenge and more. These resources were shared and discussed at our recent TDT Network Conference on Evaluation. None of the examples are completely perfect, however neither are they totally ineffectual. Depending on what you are trying to measure, they can all be useful if contextualised. We encourage you to make comments on the documents, and would welcome any feedback.

This article, which first appeared in SecEd, How to effectively evaluate your CPD also explores this. It includes a worked example of how this might work.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”i. Both formative and summative evaluation takes place at a macro level across the organisation.” collapse=”collapse”]

The evaluation of CPD has two key purposes – identifying whether CPD has worked and identifying how it has worked and whether it could be improved or adapted. Any evaluation should include both of these.


There should also be two aspects of evaluation when evaluating the impact on students – an overall evaluation of any activities or programmes (using Guskey’s levels and perhaps collated data), formative evaluation in the classroom where teachers are engaged in evaluating the impact of their practice (supported by models such as Lesson Study).[/toggle]

[toggle title=”j. Pupil feedback is used in evaluation.” collapse=”collapse”]

It is important that evaluation should be informed by student outcomes. Student feedback might make up a component of this both in the classroom and at a wider school level. This could include student interviews or surveys to inform practice.[/toggle]

4. Internal Support and Challenge

★★★ [toggle title=”a. There is culture of structured and disciplined support and collaboration between teaching staff through enquiry and formative assessment.” collapse=”collapse”]

Staff should engage in some kind of collaborative enquiry in their professional learning, where they are supported to be responsive in their learning. This means that they are engaged in identifying student needs, selecting an evidence-based strategy, experimenting with and adapting that strategy and then using evaluation to refine and embed that strategy. Common models that are used to enable this are Lesson Study, spirals of enquiry, teaching and learning communities etc.


However, it can take time to build up to these models, and the culture needs to be there for staff to constructively collaborate. Some good starting points are:

  • Having an open culture where staff share practice and readily peer observe,
  • Encouraging staff to ensure that any collaborative planning or peer observation has a clear pupil focus. This tends to allow for more constructive challenge, as it is not focussed on the teacher but the pupil.
  • Allow collaborative time – meetings where staff share ideas, or share areas that they are working on, encourage leaders to model asking colleagues for feedback.


Collaboration can allow for challenge, for a trusting culture of development and it can support evaluation. When well-planned for, it is a vital part of effective CPD.[/toggle]

★★ [toggle title=”b. CPD constructively challenges and questions staff’s existing practice and beliefs.” collapse=”collapse”]

When you have a certain level of expertise, it is really difficult to learn something new and potentially to have your mind changed. Cognitive biases encourage us to stick with what we know and to reject new learning.


It is important to consider in any CPD activity the existing beliefs and understanding of the participants, and how they can be challenged and developed in a non-threatening way. Within a school, staff should feel that they are regularly questioning their own assumptions and beliefs, and that this is done in an open and constructive way.


External expertise often plays an important role in disrupting current thinking, but challenge can also be supported by a rigorous focus on impact for students.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”c. There is a culture of questioning and constructive challenge between teaching staff.” collapse=”collapse”]

A learning culture will necessarily have a culture of challenge and questioning. We need to be aware of our preconceptions and assumptions to help us learn and develop. To support a culture of challenge:

  • Ensure you engage in evidence-informed practice and model how your school approach or your own practice has changed when new evidence comes to light.
  • Encourage staff to take risks and innovate in their practice.
  • Celebrate challenge.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”d. High quality coaching (in a formal, skilled and trained sense) is used throughout the organisation.” collapse=”collapse”]

There is a large amount of research and debate around mentoring and coaching and what their differences are. What educational research shows is that both are invaluable both for developing one’s own practice, as well as developing in one’s career. However, coaching can also be a nice but unfocussed use of time unless it’s well planned. Some tips are below.


  1. Be aware of culture

Culture makes or breaks coaching. Coach and coachee have to trust each other if it’s going to work. The ultimate coaching sin is to only use it for staff deemed to be “failing” – a guaranteed way to make the term as toxic as a Black Widow spider. Make sure that everyone has an entitlement to engage at some point and that a mix of staff, including leaders, engage in it.

  1. Get some genuine expertise

Lots of us have experienced being observed and judged by someone who has no understanding of what or who we’re teaching. Coaching is a real skill and coaches should have significant expertise if the aim is to improve teaching practice. There’s a spectrum of coaching from content-agnostic to content-expert – the former focuses on stimulating reflection in the coachee, while the latter can carefully offer external, expert reflections.

  1. Consider the source

Interestingly, a 2015 meta-analysis by Jones, Woods and Guillaume suggested that the most effective coaches are not only trained but are from within your organisation rather than from expensive external agencies. We imagine that the researchers’ inboxes can’t have looked pretty after publishing this. It’s best when the coach isn’t your line manager to reduce the tension between accountability and development, however, this shouldn’t stop line managers from using coaching techniques within regular discussions and appraisal conversations.

  1. Coaching is more than collaboration

Talking is good! Collaboration is great. But you can’t turn these into coaching by just sticking a “coaching” label on them. Lots of forms of conversation and collaboration might use techniques similar to coaching (reflection, observing practice, observing student learning, etc) but are not actually the same process. A pig with lipstick is still just a pig. A chat labelled as coaching is still just a chat. Ultimately, research shows coaching can effectively improve performance and development. It’s worth doing it right.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”e. The organisation has clear and transparent systems in place for career development and promotions.” collapse=”collapse”]

This criteria is particularly focussed on the systems and processes in place for career development. This might include:


  • Many schools choose to have clear progression routes for each stage of career, especially within large schools. For example in addition to an NQT programme, an NQT +1, +2, +3 programme etc.
  • Don’t forget to recognise experts within the classroom – progression should not only mean leadership positions.
  • Ensure that there is equal support for those who wish to progress into pastoral roles, this is an area often neglected.
  • Support line managers to have informed conversations around both career and classroom practice development. Ensure that relationships between line managers and their reports are supportive and safe.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”f. There are clear policies for all levels of career development.” collapse=”collapse”]

Ensure that your career development opportunities are clear and transparent for every role. Schools often find that career routes for support staff are less ‘clear cut’ than for teaching staff. This means that any developmental or appraisal conversations are all the more important, it is crucial that staff feel free to discuss their aims within their career and that the school supports them where possible.

  • Remember to utilise job shadowing and mentoring.
  • Accreditation and qualifications can be a useful way to develop support staff, particularly general support staff.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”g. The organisation has a track record of developing staff and helping them progress.” collapse=”collapse”]

This criteria reflects staff perception of career development in the organisation.[/toggle]

5. Use of Expert Knowledge

★★★ [toggle title=”a. Staff are supported to maximise the impact of any external experts with which they engage.” collapse=”collapse”]

What does this mean?


When staff engage with external expertise, they are given time to implement, reflect, evaluate (in the short, medium and long-term) and refine any new approaches or ideas. They are able to share any new knowledge and work with other staff to take any strategies further beyond their own classrooms, enabling sustained change.

When engaging with external expertise, you should be really clear about the purpose of the engagement. Is this to build awareness of different approaches? Is this to inform subject knowledge? Is this aimed at changing student outcomes? Differing levels of impact will require different levels of engagement.


What does this look like in practice?

When staff attend an external course, or engage with external expertise, staff plan what the expected benefit and impact on pupils will be. In addition to the time allocated for the engagement with external expertise, staff are also given some CPD time to plan and take the idea further. There is a process which ensures staff feedback in the short, medium and long term, and, after time to embed and refine an approach, staff are expected to share their learning with colleagues.


  • Providing time for staff to implement their new knowledge.
  • Provide support for staff to evaluate the impact.
  • Seek out external providers who engage over time and collaborate with staff.
  • Ensure that any new knowledge is not just shared with other staff, but also transferred effectively, e.g. through joint practice development, lesson study etc.[/toggle]
★★ [toggle title=”b. Staff engage with an appropriate range of external knowledge, including experts, providers, research, books etc.” collapse=”collapse”]


Whilst schools often contain a great deal of expertise internally, it is vital that schools continuously engage with external expertise. It can offer:

  • Disruptive new perspectives that can challenge your assumptions.
  • Evidence-informed strategies to support your needs.
  • Implementation knowledge of how to take forward ideas.
  • Feedback through the learning process, helping you to diagnose student needs and refine your practice.


That expertise might come from a wide range of different places:

  • Expert organisations;
  • HEIs;
  • Research;
  • Events, conferences, workshops;
  • Social media and blogs;
  • Other schools; and

Courses and accreditations.[/toggle]

★★ [toggle title=”c. External expertise is chosen on their evidence base and their evidence of impact.” collapse=”collapse”]


When engaging in professional learning, you want to select approaches that are most likely to work. Therefore when selecting external experts you want to look for:

  • A strong evidence-base behind their approach.
  • Evidence of impact through robust evaluations.


What Is Currently Happening In Schools

In 2014, the Teacher Development Trust undertook research around the structures and processes of CPD in English schools. The findings bring together the results of:

  • an initial survey of 94 teachers, middle and senior leaders by the Teacher Development Trust
  • a survey of 1,020 school leaders by The Key (representative of all schools in England by type, phase and region)
  • telephone interviews undertaken with a focus group of 15 teaching staff, middle leaders and senior leaders

All qualitative data has undergone joint analysis with research partner EdYou.

A quick summary of the results shows the following:

  • 67.4% of school leaders said that they found new external CPD providers by selecting a provider used previously by their own school or by colleagues
  • “Word of mouth” and flyers and brochures sent directly to schools still influence the majority – over 60% – of decisions around external CPD
  • Nevertheless, and despite their apparent demise, almost 1 in 5 school leaders still use a Local Authority (LA) database to find CPD opportunities
  • Approval for most CPD opportunities rests with senior leaders – this was the case for 91% of school leaders.
  • Only 50.2% school leaders said that teachers in their school were allowed to choose an external organisation or resource to support their professional development
  • 1 in 10 school leaders stated that their “most common motivation” for engaging staff in CPD was as a response to accountability pressures such as league tables or inspection. When considering secondary school leaders only, this figure rose to 1 in 5.
  • More generally, over 60% of all respondents – 62% of primary schools and 72% of secondary schools – either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they feel under pressure to change professional development priorities due to accountability measures
  • Over half of respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that financial pressure has made it harder to meet teachers’ development needs. The figure increased to 60% when considering secondary schools only

Read the full report: Teacher Development Trust Annual Report – full findings

This shows that there is an ongoing lack of awareness about the difference options for sourcing professional development, a topic that we will address in this section.

You can also read the Teacher Development Trust’s summary of how England measures up to other countries in its CPD provision, working conditions and learning environments, in the 2014 TALIS report in our blog post

Tips For What To Look For In An External Provider

Seemingly countless courses and resources are on offer to help teachers improve their practice, but you need to choose high-quality expertise and input in order to facilitate effective learning back in the classroom.

With so much to choose from, how can teachers and schools leaders identify high-quality courses, resources and services? How can you sort the bad from the good, the “flash-in-the-pan” quick fixes from evidence-based resources that will have a sustained impact in the classroom?

At the Teacher Development Trust, there are a few questions we ask of providers in our TDT Advisor to assess how effective a CPD resource is likely to be. Not every resource will suit your school’s or pupils’ needs, and teachers must show commitment to sustain the implementation and evaluation of any training.

Nevertheless, asking the following questions will help you to gauge whether the resource you are choosing is likely to give good results.

  1. Where is the evidence?
  2. What follow-up and support is on offer?
  3. How can I evaluate the impact?
  4. You say you’re good – but who can corroborate your quality?

Where To Go To Find CPD Providers

TDT Advisor – the ‘trip advisor’ for CPD

The TDT Advisor is a free, national database of high-quality professional development resources for teachers.

Launched in 2012 (as the GoodCPDGuide), TDT Advisor lists over 2,500 resources from more than 350 providers, including charities, independent consultants, Teaching Schools and local authorities. Resources on offer include:

  • Training courses
  • Conferences
  • Consultancy services
  • Books
  • Videos
  • Podcasts

Used by thousands of teachers every month, visitors to the Advisor can search for professional development to match their needs according to:

  • Location
  • Target audience
  • Subject
  • Focus
  • Phase

Users can then review the CPD they have used or recommend listings for the TDT Advisor.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”d. The organisation collaborates meaningfully with other schools or colleges around effective CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

Through TDT Network we aim to support you to learn from other schools and collaborate with each other. Time is a common constraint when working with other schools, but it is often a fantastic opportunity to learn from other colleagues. Some points to consider

  • Ideally collaboration should go beyond sharing practice. A follow up visit and evaluating impact together can allow both schools to refine and improve their practice.
  • Visiting another school can often be inspiring and reinvigorating for a professional, but you should ensure that you are not just trying out lots of new things in the short term. Make sure you make a short, medium and long-term plan for how you will take your new learning forward.
  • Remember that all staff are likely to benefit from working with other schools, it shouldn’t just be an opportunity for leaders or for experienced staff.
  • Be really clear on the purpose of the visit. Is it to inspire? To gather ideas? Or is it a more substantial relationship that is likely to benefit student outcomes?[/toggle]
[toggle title=”e. Internal expertise is well used within the organisation and balanced with the use of external expertise.” collapse=”collapse”]

Schools often have great expertise within their organisation. However, just like external providers, it is important to consider how this internal expertise is used,

  • Be really clear about the purpose of the engagement. Is this to build awareness of different approaches? Is this to inform subject knowledge? Is this aimed at changing student outcomes? Differing levels of impact will require different levels of engagement.
  • What need are they addressing? How will you know whether it has been successful?
  • What is the evidence-base behind the approach?

Internal experts may be able to facilitate and support engagement with external expertise.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”f. Expert knowledge is shared across the organisation.” collapse=”collapse”]


Developmental organisations tend to have a culture of sharing ideas and expertise and structures to support this.


There are two key purposes for this. One is cultural. In an organisation where new learning is celebrated and where staff feel that learning is a priority, it is important that there are structures to share and discuss this learning.


Second, it is important and efficient for staff to share their learning and expertise, so that everyone isn’t seeking out similar information individually.


Beware that sharing practice alone will only build awareness, to change practice and benefit students there needs to be a more sustained and substantial engagement.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”g. External providers are chosen for their follow up support and evaluation.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD that is designed to impact on student outcomes needs to be sustained over time and it needs to include assessment and evaluation of the impact on students. External expertise can offer support around this learning process.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”h. External expertise is selected to address a particular need and planned outcome and evaluated against this.” collapse=”collapse”]

When choosing external expertise, it should be selected to address a clear purpose and then evaluated against this.


What is the intended impact?

Direct Impact – this is professional learning that is intended to directly benefit pupil outcomes. It should be possible to trace the thread from any external input to desired impact on pupils.


Indirect impact – this is professional learning that is designed to develop and improve the organisation and staff which will indirectly benefit students. Any evaluation will be against measures other than student learning.


What is the depth of learning?

Awareness – A background awareness of the existence of certain ideas without sufficient clarity or depth to yet crystalize into practice. This might be from a conference or school visit. You might select some ideas to take to a greater depth, but the initial focus is just building awareness of different ideas. Any engagement with external expertise will likely be short-lived.


Procedural practice – Proficient practice that fairly rigidly follows a set procedure or set of rules without significant ability to vary or adapt. For example, learning how to use the new data system.


Deliberative practice – Expert practice that can be carried out flexibly with some supports and with time to carefully think through each step. For example, marking or planning.


Adaptive practice – High level of expertise, automaticity and ability to apply flexibly. The hardest to achieve and the hardest to change once embedded. For example, teaching students or leading teams. This will require the greatest level of engagement.


When you are really clear on the intended impact and the depth of learning, you can then evaluate against your intended impact.[/toggle]

6. Processes and Structures of CPD

★★★ [toggle title=”a. Protected time is invested for CPD and professional learning (including planning, peer observation, collaboration etc.) and meeting time is maximised for effective CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

Time and money are exceptionally valuable in schools. Ultimately there is no easy way to find time for professional learning. The research is clear that effective CPD is very powerful; therefore CPD will have to be prioritised over some other things to ensure enough time is available. It is important to consider workload when planning time for professional learning.


Managing workload

Quick wins

  • Some student self and peer marking of work instead of teacher marking
  • Using marking codes or symbols to designate common feedback points instead of writing out feedback long-hand, then presenting a key at the start of the next lesson
  • Push administrative briefings into emails, use team meeting times for professional development discussions
  • Shared behaviour follow-up systems: e.g. shared detention times.


Medium wins

  • Using more online automatically-graded assessments, e.g. online homework systems and multiple-choice assessments.
  • Arrange for fewer staff briefings and meetings and/or replace these with professional learning discussion time.
  • Developing comprehensive schemes of learning and associated banks of high quality resources and assessments which take much less time to turn into bespoke lessons.
  • Require fewer whole-school data entry points each year. Consider using administrative staff to do physical data entry or try and capture data automatically.
  • Carefully review how teachers use parent meetings and report-writing: these can easily end up as highly time-consuming activities that neither teachers, students nor parents particularly value.


Big but tough wins

  • Reducing teaching loads so that there is more time available each week.
  • Hiring more staff to allow staff to be more regularly and flexibly released from regular teaching and other roles.
  • End the school day earlier one day each week and give dedicated, protected time to professional development.
  • Reducing mandatory non-teaching duties such as supervising break-times


Finding time for professional learning

  • Schedule teacher non-contact periods so that groups can work together (e.g. phase teams, subject departments or faculties, year teams).
  • ‘Bank’ 15 to 30 minutes of extra professional development time by finishing school lessons slightly later on four days of the week and then using that time on the fifth day – e.g. pupils arrive later than usual, or leave earlier than usual. (This is more common at secondary level).
  • Schedule music, sport, art, reading sessions and/or religious education with external facilitators.
  • Staffing assemblies with fewer staff and/or teaching assistants and external facilitators, freeing up others to meet and discuss pedagogy.
  • Schedule similar classes together (e.g. KS2 literacy periods, Year 10 maths) so teachers can more easily swap classes or see each other’s lessons, and more easily engage in joint planning and assessment.
  • Schedule two staff to the same class to facilitate co-teaching.
  • Extend team meeting times to encourage subject-specific or topic-specific professional development discussion instead of time spent as a whole staff discussing general pedagogical principles.
  • Disaggregate statutory in-service training days, use the time instead for several twilight or dawn sessions. Be aware that there’s an important balance to be struck here to ensure that teachers still have sufficient planning and preparation time at the start of term as well as time for key activities such as moderating coursework.
  • Allocate statutory in-service training day time for co-planning, discussion and enquiry.


  • Use senior leaders’ time to take over classes. This has the added benefit of helping senior leaders to familiarise themselves with a wider range of students.
  • Combine some classes in the hall or other larger space, using one teacher and/or a teaching assistant or cover supervisor.
  • Using existing higher-level teaching assistants and/or cover supervisors to take classes. This is, perhaps understandably, a more controversial approach.
  • Hire an in-house cover supervisor (or share one between smaller schools).
  • Once some cover capacity has been found, give teachers cover ‘tokens’ which they can use as they wish, subject to availability.

Making collaboration time more efficient

  • Use video to allow teachers to record lessons to observe later. We generally recommend that this is mixed with in-person observation as the experiences are quite different. Video also needs more time in follow-up meetings to watch the clips. High quality audio is particularly important to understand what’s going on.
  • Create and implement clear and efficient protocols and practices for collaborative meetings, for example:
    • Be clear on the focus of any collaboration and be quite strict about deviating from it.
    • Be explicit about what you won’t cover in a collaborative meeting – it is so easy to go off on a tangent or get stuck on one thing.
    • Share the agenda beforehand and give colleagues enough notice to bring the relevant work or resources to the meeting.
    • When introducing collaborative meetings, stick closely to any recommended timings for several sessions before deviating from them. This needs very effective facilitation and chairing.
  • When co-planning lessons, consider planning and observing a segment of the lesson rather than the whole thing. For example, this could be around the first 10 minutes, or around a key explanation or activity. This also reduces the challenge of releasing a class teacher to observe – someone can step in for a few minutes while they watch the short lesson segment.
  • When co-planning, don’t feel the need to start writing a lesson from scratch every time – staff members can re-use existing plans, schemes and books. Spend time focusing on adapting it for the specific students and focus of the professional development.
  • Keep writing-up time to a minimum – don’t insist on too much paperwork and encourage staff to identify what write-up is most important.

Watch out for common pitfalls of introducing more time:

  • Some staff may find it hard to flex their start and end times due to childcare duties.
  • Part-time staff may not have that day as part of their contract. If they are only working two or three days then the professional learning time will be a disproportionately larger part of their working week than for full-time staff.
  • If the school has not had a strong professional development culture, nor high expectations of professional development, many staff may not see the benefit of additional time and may see it as a bureaucratic burden.
  • Similarly, well-intentioned senior leaders sometimes try to impose lots of change without much consultation and end up entrenching opposition from union representatives.
  • Some schools use a lot of existing meeting time for very strictly-defined professional development activity. This can leave teams with insufficient times to deal with day-to-day issues and implementing changes, particularly if there has been inadequate time to get used to reduced time for administrative discussion.[/toggle]
★★★ [toggle title=”b. Meaningful joint planning takes place, i.e. planning to refine and improve practice to best meet pupil needs.” collapse=”collapse”]

What Is Meaningful Joint Planning?

Meaningful joint planning is not

  • sharing ideas without evaluating, refining or reflecting;
  • splitting the workload when designing schemes of work;
  • exclusively a more experienced practitioner sharing ideas with a beginning teacher (which can be great, but there should be a broader culture of joint planning between colleagues); nor
  • ensuring that all staff within a department are following the same lesson plans.

Meaningful joint planning should be:

  • pupil focussed – it’s not about what the teacher is practising, but what you expect pupils to learn. You might also be focussed on particular target groups of pupils.
  • evaluated – when planning you should have a clear idea of what the need you are addressing is, how you plan to address it and what success would look like. This then allows you to evaluate the lesson.
  • refined – it is important that, after evaluating each lesson, lesson plans are updated, refined and improved.

collaborative – joint lesson planning is not about transferring knowledge but about developing practice. Staff involved in planning together should both/all be contributing, reflecting, challenging each other and developing.[/toggle]

★★★ [toggle title=”c. Teaching staff engage in reflective collaboration focussed on solving a pupil learning issue, e.g. enquiry, lesson study etc.” collapse=”collapse”]

When focussed on something complex, such as pupil learning, collaborative enquiry is a really powerful model for changing and adapting practice to best meet student needs. Our resources for Lesson Study will help you develop collaborative enquiry in your school.


Key principles for collaborative enquiry

  • The process must be driven by and start with a student learning outcome if you expect to have a direct impact on student outcomes.
  • An evidence-informed approach is determined that is closely linked to the specific student need identified.
  • This approach is experimented with in the classroom and carefully evaluated.
  • There should be some collaboration in the process.
  • The process needs to be sustained over time.
  • There should be trust and support within the process.
  • There needs to be a challenge to pre-existing ideas or some new learning.


Aspects that are likely to be included in collaborative enquiry

  • The focus is quite a small number of students

Time and resource are provided.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”d. There is clear leadership of CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD is one of the most important things that school leaders can get right in their school. As such, there needs to be clear and effective leadership.


  • All staff should know who to turn to to discuss their CPD.
  • All staff should know how to give feedback on their CPD and how to do so.
  • Leaders of subjects and teams should have a clear remit for professional learning and should be given the time and support to enable it.

All staff should feel that they have agency and ownership over their own CPD and that they can feed their insights and needs into the wider school CPD.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”e. Staff feel supported to analyse and feedback their own needs to inform the school’s CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

CPD should be pupil focussed and staff should feel their overall professional learning relates closely to the pupils that they teach. In planning CPD, school leadership should be informed not only of staff needs, and not only from overall pupil data, but also from the professional judgements and individual data on pupils that teachers have access to. Teachers and support staff spend the most time with students so are best placed to identify pupil needs and should be supported and encouraged to do this. These needs should not relate to headline pupil figures (e.g. closing the gap, or 80% A* – C), but should relate to day-to-day experiences and aspirations for pupils.


Performance management, surveys, team and subject collaboration and informal conversations can all be used to gather this information.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”f. Governors are well informed of CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

In addition to having access to their own CPD, governors should have a strong understanding of the principles of effective CPD and its importance for students, staff and school success. It should be prioritised in terms of time and resource, but should also be considered when making other decisions.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”g. Performance management supports CPD and professional learning.” collapse=”collapse”]

When done well, performance management can reinforce and support staff development. However, it has the potential to stifle and limit professional learning.


  1. Performance management should relate closely to the professional learning that staff are engaged in.
  2. Performance management should follow the principals of effective professional learning; it should be pupil focussed, challenging, evidence-informed and evaluated.
  3. Performance management should be completed within a supportive culture, where colleagues feel that it supports their learning, rather than threatens or limits them.
  4. Performance management should ensure that colleagues engage fully in effective professional learning.

Risks To Watch Out For

  1. Performance management targets are not referred to throughout the year and become a last minute ‘tick box’ exercise that don’t really reflect progress made throughout the year.
  2. Performance management focuses solely on career development rather than improving practice, or vice-versa.
  3. Pupil achievement targets in performance management are too broad and don’t relate closely to actual development, e.g. “80% of pupils to achieve A* to C” doesn’t specify which pupils to particularly focus on, what specific need to address, nor what possible approaches to try.
  4. Staff need to feel free to innovate and take risks in their practice, as well as to evaluate effectively, even if the evaluation shows that an approach was not successful. Performance management should promote effective development, rather than rapid success with every approach tried.


So what makes the difference? Here are 5 evidence-based ideas to transform your performance management from debacle to developmental.

  1. Involve teachers in setting their own targets – goals need to feel valuable and genuinely owned if they are to inspire effort. Involve staff in the design of appraisal processes and in which measures are used.
  2. Be clear on the difference between performance targets and learning targets. Limit the use of performance targets to areas where the teacher has a high level of control – e.g. completing a scheme or work or entering data on time. For more complex tasks where multiple factors are at play (e.g. students’ learning) use ‘do-your-best’ learning goals focused on engaging in development and learning. Concrete targets in complex areas have been shown to cause gaming, increase stress and depress development.
  3. The aim of an appraisal meeting is to inspire further development, so focus discussion primarily on strengths and future development, rather than what has already happened in the past.
  4. Ramp up your levels of caution about the performance data that are collected. Observations need multiple, trained observers and well-researched observation schedules if they are to have any validity. A class set of data is very rarely large or reliable enough to allow us to draw any firm conclusions about effectiveness.
  5. Make transparency, trust and fairness a priority. Colquitt et. al found thatIf your decisions are perceived as unfair, then your employees may be less willing to do their job well.”[/toggle]
[toggle title=”h. Parents are aware of the emphasis the organisation places on CPD.” collapse=”collapse”]

Parents should understand

  • that professional learning for staff benefits their children;
  • that professional learning is something that is prioritised within the school; and
  • (when relevant) how that might impact on their children (e.g. around change in day, what they key priorities are etc.)

Why Should Parents Be Informed?

  1. Your school invests a lot of time and money into developing staff because it has a powerful impact on pupil outcomes. This should be shared with parents so that they come to value and expect professional learning within schools. This is particularly relevant if/when professional learning time impacts the school day etc.
  2. Professional learning ties in with the school priorities, which should be shared with parents, along with how the school intends to address them.
  3. Sometimes CPD and particular approaches in school can be reinforced and supported by parents at home.

How To Inform Parents

You will already have means of communicating and engaging with parents. Some methods that are used by schools regularly

  1. Newsletters.
  2. Websites, including a teaching and learning blog.

Conversations to reinforce these messages (which are not necessarily closely read), e.g. through open days, speeches and parents’ evenings etc.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”i. CPD is recorded and logged.” collapse=”collapse”]

There should be central school records of any CPD policies, the priorities for CPD and how they’re being met, and CPD spending. Staff should engage in evaluating the impact of their professional learning and should be able to discuss and evidence their learning. However, any records should not be too time-consuming or burdensome. Their will likely be some variety in how staff prefer to record their learning.


Some ‘Dos’ For Recording CPD

  • Do ensure that all developmental processes are considered as ‘CPD’, e.g. joint planning or collaborative enquiry is CPD at least as much as an external speaker or course.
  • Do enable staff to use any records of CPD to support reflection and evaluation of the process.
  • Do encourage colleagues to use any records as a working journal that is referred back to you, with reflections made, rather than as a static record book.

Some ‘Don’ts’ For Recording CPD

  • Don’t prioritise quantity over quality – a full folder of paper that is never referred to, useful or purposeful is not worth the time.
  • Don’t make it a time wasting exercise.
  • Don’t expect everyone to record and work in the same way.
  • Don’t rush the process – it takes time for all staff to get to grips with a new process (especially if online) and often takes time to get it set up in the way that you would like.

Don’t confuse recording with evaluating – recording CPD is not the same as evaluating its impact, nor is it the same as embedding a change into your practice.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”j. CPD is protected and prioritised in terms of budget.” collapse=”collapse”]

Given the importance of CPD and its potential benefits for staff, students and the school, it is important to invest in effective CPD.

Average Spending

This link will support you to compare your CPD spending.


What To Consider

  1. Value for Money. This is notoriously difficult to measure but by analysing needs and evaluating CPD, it is possible to give an indication of value for money. Certainly an expensive course or speaker than only has potential to impact on a few pupils, or which has no evidence-base is unlikely to be good value for money.
  2. Prioritising CPD. To secure funding for CPD, it is crucial that both governors and school leaders understand the importance of CPD. Ensure that leaders are aware of the research behind the power of effective CPD.

Funded projects. Through collaborating with HEIs or research projects, there are occasionally funded projects to support CPD. Similarly there are unique funding opportunities, such as the Enthuse Award to support CPD.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”k. Staff are supported in the accreditation of their professional learning.” collapse=”collapse”]

Accreditation can be a useful part of both career development and developing one’s practice. They often add external expertise. There tends to be a more developmental culture where evidence-informed accreditation is prioritised and invested in. This accreditation might be with a local Teaching School, National College standards, an HEI, or with other external organisations.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”l. CPD is aligned to development plans.” collapse=”collapse”]

Using Your School Development Plan

Effective professional development has a powerful impact on pupil outcomes and should be a driver behind meeting targets on the school development plan. However, often individual teachers feel that the school development plan is in conflict with their own professional learning needs.

  • There should be real clarity around the school priorities, it should be concise and clear so that staff can clearly identify the priorities.
  • The data and reasons for identifying the priorities should be shared with colleagues, to ensure buy in and ownership over those priorities.
  • Pupils, individuals and departments should all have some input into the school priorities. The priorities should reflect not just headline data, but also the ‘on the ground’ experiences. Staff should feel that they were listened to and had an opportunity to input into that.
  • In addition to this, there will, of course, also be individual needs and specific personal goals within school professional development. Not every aspect of CPD will always directly relate to the development plan, but CPD should be a key driver behind the school’s priorities.

Using Middle Leaders

When pulling together school priorities and also a CPD programme, then it is worth remembering how much more data and knowledge middle leaders and individual teachers have, compared to the overall data and knowledge as a senior teacher.

Middle leaders and department priorities should be a crucial consideration in pulling together CPD and ensuring that it meets both individual needs and school priorities.[/toggle]

7. Research, Innovation and Evidence

★★★ [toggle title=”a. Processes in the organisation are underpinned by evidence.” collapse=”collapse”]

Ensuring Your CPD Is Evidence-Informed

It is important that colleagues engage with research, it is also key that all processes in the school are underpinned by evidence and research, as they are the most likely to work. No school has time to be engaging in processes that are not likely to work.


In terms of professional learning, when introducing key ideas or new strategies, the evidence base should be shared with colleagues.

  • Often school leaders engage with research but do not necessarily share what they’ve learnt with colleagues – explaining the research base builds buy in to an approach.
  • Ensure that the research base is explored and unpicked, explaining that ‘research says’ or ‘evidence shows’ without explaining the nature and detail of the evidence is insufficient.

Professional learning should entail engaging both with the theory and embedding in the practical context of the classroom.[/toggle]

★★ [toggle title=”b. Staff have access to and engage with (discuss, challenge, use) research summaries and evidence-based pedagogical advice.” collapse=”collapse”]

What Do We Mean By Engaging With Research?

In a ‘research-engaged school’, colleagues will engage both in and with research. When engaging in research, colleagues will research and investigate their own practice, possibly through Lesson Study or enquiry, and occasionally with the support of an HEI or part of a broader research project. When engaging with research, colleagues will be informed by research and evidence, and will be confident using, discussing and criticising research. This should form part of an enquiry or Lesson Study (ie researching which intervention to try), but is not the whole process.

This section explores how to support staff to engage with research. You may also be interested in Ben Goldacre’s paper on how, as a sector, we can ‘Build Evidence into Education’.

How To Access Research?

Through your TDT Network you have free access to the EBSCO Portal, which includes:

  • Full text for over 1,800 journals
  • Indexing and abstracts for thousands of journals
  • Full text for more than 550 books and monographs
  • Full text for numerous education-related conference papers
  • Citations for over 5 million articles, including book reviews
  • And much more…

To access the research, click here. You are likely to find that different colleagues will have varying levels of confidence in using academic research. It is helpful to direct colleagues to what is most relevant to them, and to facilitate discussions around any research they engage with.

You can also access this free research library from Thinking Reading with multiple great resources here.

Free access to the book Research Methods in Education!


What Is Credible Research?

Resource: What is credible research

Resource: 10 Credible Sources to start

Want to check credibility? A new website has been launched that makes asking for evidence and getting help understanding that evidence as easy as possible. You can use it to ask politicians, companies, NGOs and anyone else for evidence behind their claims, while you’re on the train, walking down the street or sitting in front of the TV. And if you need help understanding the evidence you’ve been sent, that’s there too. Seen a claim in a newspaper about a new approach in education? Ask for evidence!

Article: How to read education data without jumping to conclusions?


Any Practical Tips?

  • Ensure you have an open culture.

By engaging with research, staff will begin to challenge their own, and possibly others’ thinking. To have a truly research-engaged school, all colleagues, including leaders, should be open to changing their approach in light of new research. Ensure that your school has an open and innovative cultureEnable to staff to take risks in a disciplined way.

  • Enable staff to innovate and take risks in their practice.

Just as with pupils, colleagues often feel reluctant to leave their ‘safe space’ and try out new things. Ensure that colleagues feel safe to innovate, whilst also evaluating the impact of any innovations. Article: ‘Giving it a Go’

  • Avoid ‘pick and mix!’

Once colleagues begin engaging further with external research and ideas, it can be tempting to try out a new idea each lesson. However, the risk with this is that nothing is ever embedded in the most effective way. Ensure that an approach with a strong evidence based is tried out, refined and evaluated, using an approach such as Lesson Study.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”c. The organisation and staff engage with universities and HEIs to support them in solving pedagogical and learning problems.” collapse=”collapse”]

What Are The Benefits?

There are many benefits to partnering with your local university.

  • Help with research – inviting a junior researcher in to help your teams get started with their research can be a very useful activity.
  • Opportunity to engage in interventions that address your pupil and school needs.
  • Potential to network with other (local) schools.
  • Opportunities to participate in funded projects

How Can I Set Up A Relationship?

How can I start one up?

The School-University Partnerships Initiative (SUPI) is a three-year initiative to create structured and strategic mechanisms for HEIs to work in partnership with secondary schools and FE colleges. Their website lists a number of universities that have received funding. Alternatively, search online for the Faculty of Education at your local university, and send a friendly enquiry to one of the staff.

If your local university is not able to work with you, you could also get in touch with the Institute of Education, which partners with individual schools, clusters of schools and Teaching School Alliances across the UK. All their work is supported by their research and funded projects are available.

Finally you are likely to have initial relationships through colleagues engaging in ITT or MA etc. This is often a good starting point for taking forward a relationship.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”d. The organisation is involved in large scale research.” collapse=”collapse”]

What Are The Benefits?

There are many benefits to getting involved in wider research.

  • Help with research – inviting a junior researcher in to help your teams get started with their research can be a very useful activity.
  • Contribute to wider research that will benefit your school and others across the country.
  • Potential to network with other schools.
  • Opportunities to participate in funded projects.
  • Opportunities to receive additional support with an intervention

Do note that if you get involved in a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) you may not be able to use the intervention (at least initially) as there will be a random control group.

The Education Endowment Foundation

The EEF currently fund a large number of large-scale education research projects. They are often looking to recruit schools to be involved.

This link here will show you any upcoming projects you might be able to get involved in.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”e. There is an awareness of research methodologies and staff are able to judge the quality of research.” collapse=”collapse”]

Excitingly, there is a significant increase in the access and sharing of research. However, not all research is equally high quality. Staff members need to be aware of these five common pitfalls

  1. Correlation issues: noting that a worrying problem is associated with a particular activity or trait and failing to check whether the problem leads to the trait or the trait leads to the problem.
  2. Do-something-itis: identifying a worrying social or educational problem and jumping straight to implementing an in-school solution without checking whether it’s even possible to solve it in school.
  3. Over-rapid adoption: getting too excited about early findings or plausible mechanisms and rolling them out as mandatory without building a quality evidence base and continuing to pilot and evaluate the roll-out.
  4. Filtering evidence by tribe: rejecting possible mechanisms or findings because of dislike of the existing supporters or, conversely, holding onto existing ideas too strongly because of you and/or your respected colleagues have made a big deal of promoting it. It’s easy to recognise this in others but it applies just as much to you or to us as it does to them…
  5. Confirmation-seeking: filtering research for findings that confirm existing thinking and practice and paying too little attention to criticisms and doubts. The converse is also true, enormously over-egging fairly fringe doubts about research (or its authors) when it suits us to undermine research that would be uncomfortable to accept.


Here’s a few ways to get better quality evidence.

  1. Look out for systematic reviews. These are studies of existing research literature that are carefully designed to give more weight to higher quality and rigorous research. They identify what it is possible to claim and with what level of confidence. Some systematic reviews include meta-analysis – an attempt to combine statistical findings from multiple studies.
  2. Be more sceptical of lists of references which are mainly individual studies/experiments. It is easy to pick out multiple impressive-sounding studies to confirm nearly any position that the author or reader would like to be true while failing to reference studies that undermine this.
  3. Search for criticism. Whenever you find a plausible-sounding claim, it is good practice tapping it into Google Search and add the word ‘criticism’ on the end. Other useful words/phrases are ‘replication’ and ‘systematic review’.


  1. Be more cautious about individual studies where:
    1. authors do not publish their data and precise methodology for others to re-analyse;
    2. researchers have some vested interest in a particular result, i.e. they lack independence from the subject, they are being paid by an organisation whose products they are studying, they are seeking to make profit from their research findings;
  • big claims are made on the basis of a study of a small number of subjects and/or over a small period of time.


Be picky. We can’t get around the fact that it is now much easier to share and access evidence but that that evidence needs to be high quality.[/toggle]