Teachers’ professional development remains a work in progress
Ofsted report finds that teachers want professional development opportunities, but poor-quality training and increasing workloads are slowing improvements brought about by recent reforms
Teachers are not getting the high-quality training they need and struggle to find time for professional development due to their mounting workloads.
An independent review published by Ofsted has found that schools understand the importance of offering professional development opportunities. However, leaders and teachers struggle to find time for training due to competing priorities. The training that they do get doesn’t always have a positive impact.
The report is phase 1 of a 2-part review commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) looking at the quality of teachers’ training and development in schools.
In 2021, the DfE made reforms to the early career framework (ECF) and national professional qualifications (NPQs) as part of its teacher recruitment and retention strategy. The ECF currently entitles new teachers to up to 3 years of learning support at the start of their careers. This training is designed to further enhance their practice, knowledge and working habits. NPQs enable existing teachers, middle leaders and senior leaders to develop their expertise in specialist areas of teaching or leadership.
The review found that the new training packages, when delivered well, represent a significant step forward because they are research-informed and designed to include both dedicated time for professional development and follow-up with mentors. Generally, early career teachers and staff undertaking NPQs were more positive about their development experiences than other teachers, in terms of it being relevant and of high quality.
Most teachers told Ofsted that improving their teaching was the main reason for taking up professional development opportunities, but they did not always get time to apply the training.
Senior leaders noted that while in-house teacher training is common, some aspects, including mentoring, were not always possible due to competing priorities such as covering staff absence, lesson preparation and marking.
The research also found:
- schools have prioritised training and development around the curriculum
- teachers want more training on teaching pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)
- leaders and teachers are often unimpressed with the quality of training and development received
- a strong emphasis is being placed on mental health and well-being training, as a result of the pandemic
His Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, said:
"Schools know that professional development is vital, so it’s disheartening to see poor-quality training and workloads getting in the way.
"It’s important that teachers get high-quality training at every stage of their career. Training helps teachers learn new techniques and gain confidence, which in turn helps pupils.
"The ECF and NPQs are a positive development, but as we would expect with a new programme, there remains some work to do on its implementation."