CPD Survey Results
What do teachers really think of CPD?
In the course of our work, we speak to many head teachers and heads of CPD (continuous professional development). These conversations have helped to form our views about CPD in UK schools. It’s these insights that have also informed our development of IRIS Connect. However, it’s always wise to validate your assumptions with the “chalkface”; so we decided it was time once again for us to listen to the teachers themselves!
As a result of this, late last year, we asked just over 250 teachers in primary and secondary schools across the country to tell us about their own experience of CPD. Some of those we asked had responsibility for CPD within their school, but most were classroom teachers. We wanted to understand their views about what works, what doesn’t and their hopes for the future. The results were very interesting indeed.
First of all, there were some positives. The majority of teachers (82%) believed that CPD is embedded in the culture of their school. And most (85%) were clear about their personal development targets. But, and this is an important but, the majority (96%) do not feel in control of their CPD and would like more influence. This may suggest that traditional CPD methodology lacks personalisation.
A key factor to be taken into account is teacher’s perceptions of the future of CPD given current funding challenges. What’s clear is that schools are anticipating a period when they will have to do more with, at best, the same budget. None of the CPD Co-ordinators were expecting a budget increase, with just under half (46%) expecting a cut and the rest (54%) hoping to maintain current budget levels. With that budget squeeze in mind, it is more critical than ever to establish which CPD activities really deliver.
The recent White Paper reflected that…
…we do not have a strong enough focus on what is proven to be the most effective practice in teacher education and development. We know that teachers learn best from other professionals and that an ‘open classroom’ culture is vital: observing teaching and being observed, having the opportunity to plan, prepare, reflect and teach with other teachers.
But do teachers agree with this assessment?
What do teachers believe are the most effective strategies with the best long-term results? Would they rather take the opportunity to get out of the school to attend external courses, or would they actually prefer to learn in their own classroom? When asked to choose, more than four times as many teachers would opt for in-situ, classroom-based training over external courses. It also becomes clear that teachers enjoy learning from each other: a massive 85% believe that there is a value in teachers sharing best practice.
Lesson observations are clearly an important part of CPD, with more than three-quarters of respondents (78%) asserting that such observations are part of the culture in their school. Whilst this is heartening, there is some way still to go for teachers to have enough opportunity to observe each other. As things stand, only just over a third of teachers (34%) see more than 10 lessons a year. If we believe what the teachers are telling us, and sharing best practice really is important and valued, then more must be done to increase this figure. A sentiment which chimes with the White Paper, which states: “Government should ….support the efforts of teachers, helping them to learn from one another and from proven best practice”.*