TEACHING QUALITY AND CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Lessons from the London Challenge?
Research from the London School of Economics for the Sutton Trust has shown that English schools could move into the world’s top five education performers within a decade if the performance of the least effective 10% of teachers were brought up to the average. So, how do we improve the quality of teaching in our schools? The Teacher Development Trust cites research from New Zealand on the impact of high-quality CPD on the education outcomes of children, where children taught by teachers on high-quality CPD programmes were improving twice as fast as those in other classes. The improvement is more pronounced for those deemed in the 20% ‘least able,’ who made improvements four to six times as fast as their peers. The important point here is that CPD has to be high quality. Sadly,historically, much CPD hasn’t been high quality. Simply sending teachers to an occasional external course will have little or no effect on them, or on student outcomes, for that matter. Thomas Guskey has identified, in his research on evaluating CPD, that impacts of CPD must be measured through children’s outcomes. Schools have to be led by the evidence on what works to improve their pupils’ education.
Currently, there is a growing body of resources for schools to draw on. The Sutton Trust’s Pupil Premium Toolkit, the York Informed Practice Initiative (YIPI) and the Teacher Development Trust’s Good CPD Guide web site are all very useful in this respect.
Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, believes that we can learn much from the London Challenge about effective CPD. So, what can we learn? He writes: (Teaching Leaders Quarterly-March 2013): ‘There are three policy lessons. We need a system of challenge and support. Stick without the carrot might make popular headlines but it will do little to change the outcomes of the children served by underperforming teachers. London Challenge advisors set clear and ambitious new standards. But they did so by working in collaboration with teachers to get buy in. Second, working across schools underpinned the programme. Teachers would receive training from high performing colleagues in other schools. It is clear that being in a different setting was an important aspect for learning new and improved ways to teach. Third, the evidence from Ofsted’s evaluation of London Challenge found that where teachers were trained on improved teaching and learning strategies, this led to lasting legacies in their schools. Crucially, the impact was not only felt by schools in receipt of the support from partner schools, it was also felt by host schools.
The Logical Chain (Ofsted, 2006) noted that: ‘Few schools evaluated the impact of CPD on teaching and learning successfully’ a situation that appears not to have changed much.
Thomas Guskey (2000) introduced a significant focus on evaluating CPD through the impact it had on learning outcomes for young people. Guskey sees impact as being achieved at five potential levels:
organisation support and change
participants’ use of new knowledge and skills
student learning outcomes
Crucially, he argues that we need to pay attention to all five levels of impact if the goal of improving classroom learning is to be achieved, especially levels 2 – 5.
Following Guskey, Goodall et al investigated the range of evaluative practices for CPD. Using Guskey’s levels as a framework, they found that schools lacked experience, skills and tools to evaluate the impact of CPD.
(Acknowledgments to the Teacher Development Trust)