Can you afford NOT to invest in your teachers?

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 8 November, 2018

CPD doesn’t come cheap and in the current financial climate, it can feel like the most obvious thing to cut. But, if improving teaching quality opens the door to raising student achievement, then surely CPD is the key and should, therefore, be a priority on every school leaders list?

invest in teachers

It’s easy to fall back on what we know, especially in the busy world of education. This is why most teachers experience traditional professional development throughout their careers that is ineffective and has a limited impact on their classroom practice.

How do we know this? Well, research shows that barely 1% of CPD training is improving classroom practice effectively in English schools. Why is it so ineffective?

As David Weston, the CEO of the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) says: ‘A large swathe of training has no effect whatsoever on pupil outcomes. In fact, in some cases, teachers come away from irrelevant away-days having made poorly-understood and superficial changes to their teaching that not only make the lessons worse but also leaving them with the impression that they are now better teachers who require less training in future.’

So why bother with CPD at all? Numerous research projects have discovered that supporting teachers to develop is the most important thing we can do to improve outcomes for learners.

During one year with a very effective teacher, pupils gain 40% more in their learning than they would with a poorly performing teacher.

Also pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds gain an extra year’s worth of learning under very effective teachers compared to poorly performing teachers (research by The Sutton Trust).

If improving teaching quality opens the door to raising student achievement, then surely CPD is the key. After all, John Hattie’s synthesis of 800 meta-analyses puts CPD as a large effect size on pupil achievement of 0.62, in the top 20 of all the practices analysed.

Meaning that, how you choose to spend your CPD budget will directly impact outcomes for your students.


The challenge

CPD costs money and takes time, and with tougher and tighter demands on schools and teachers, professional development can easily fall by the wayside.

According to the TDT, due to financial pressures, schools in England only spend 0.5% of their budgets on CPD. And due to workload, teachers in England spend half the average number of days on professional development compared to other effective school systems like Ontario, Canada, who spend over 10% of school budgets and teacher time on CPD.

But, taking into consideration the fact that CPD is the key to raising student attainment and therefore your school's performance, a lack of investment, even in these challenging times, could be very damaging.

What can we do? Stop making CPD about one off events. Traditional CPD helps only 5-10% of teachers implement new strategies in their classrooms. So we need to start engaging teachers in CPD that works.

Download a summary infographic of this information here >


When is CPD effective?

Teachers need CPD that includes theory, demonstration, practice with feedback and peer coaching, according to research by Joyce and Showers.

These activities are essential, but when done in isolation are insufficient. For instance, coaching is not effective if the teacher doesn’t have a good grasp of the theory behind the strategy they wish to embed. Equally, theory can be hard to translate into practice if teachers can’t see what it looks like for themselves. So, ensuring that teachers are supported with the full range of CPD activities is key.

Numerous schools and education experts have turned to technology, or more specifically video, to help.

“If you look at the research it says that about 80% of what happens in a class a teacher does not see or hear. How can we get more eyes into the class? How do you get other teachers going in there, looking at the impact and feeding back to help the teacher see what it’s like being a student in their classroom? I’m a great fan of recording classrooms and using video to show teachers how they look to students. That’s the power of video, it’s another way to see your impact” - John Hattie.

As a result of their investment in using video to deliver more effective CPD, Ainslie Wood Primary School have cultivated a culture of sharing, reflection and continuous in-house development; increased the percentage of pupils achieving level 4 or above in reading, writing and Maths from 43% to 78%; moved 95% of teachers from Inadequate or Requires Improvement to Good and Outstanding, and dramatically reduced CPD spend by 47%.

Similarly, The Kemnal Academies Trust have overcome the geographical limitations of having 41 academies spread out over 8 local authorities, to deliver peer-coaching between teachers 80 miles apart and share effective resources across the Trust. Resulting in 66% of their academies being graded as Good or better where previously 75% were Requires Improvement or Special Measures.


Isn’t it expensive?

Data also shows that using video for CPD can save schools money.

An analysis on Ofsted data (February 2017), found that 64% of schools regularly using IRIS Connect (the market-leading tool for video-based CPD)  improved by at least one Ofsted grade in their last inspection cycle, compared to 42.5% of other schools. 

Also, an analysis of the DfE’s CFR data shows that schools regularly using IRIS Connect:

  • Spent 8% less on cover teaching and 9% less on CPD than other schools
  • That’s an average saving of £12,247 / year

“Using IRIS Connect has cut our CPD budget in half, enabling us to unleash the collective capacity of our teachers” - Helena Bryant, Assistant Head, St Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School

IRIS Connect revolutionises professional learning by giving you the ability to support your staff with the above CPD activities in a non isolated environment. Using the power and versatility of video, IRIS Connect enables:

  • Increased teacher reflection
  • Improved observation and feedback
  • Effective coaching and mentoring
  • Scalable sharing and collaboration
  • Free access to expertise

Join the 2,000+ schools driving up standards and saving up to £12,000 a year.

Book a free demo today >

Topics: Leadership

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