The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Lizzie Gait

Professional development standards are coming! What's new?

The Teachers’ Professional Development Expert Group have issued a call for evidence to help inform the new standards. Lizzie Gait, training lead, interviewed panel member Hélène Galdin-O'Shea, to find out more.

Why is it important that we develop the new professional development standards?

Hélène Galdin-O'Shea Follow Hélène on Twitter at @hgaldinoshea Hélène Galdin-O'Shea
Follow Hélène on Twitter at @hgaldinoshea


Because there is very, very little guidance! Simple as that. So many teachers will tell you tales of horrible CPD and INSET days and we’re being short-changed. There’s so little guidance about CPD in the Teachers’ Standards, so it’s right to give that advice so teachers know what they have to do. The new standards will also help providers move away from the typical ‘one-off approach’ to CPD interactions, and highlight the variable amount of inquiry into the specific needs of the school. CPD is often not a good fit for most of the teachers in the room! Having sat though nearly 20 years of CPD which is not often fit for purpose – it seems right that we should offer guidance, based on the evidence we have, about the kind of things that work best. And make you feel like a professional.

Do you have any concerns so far?

My main worry is that the professional development standards might be used as another stick to beat teachers with, so in my contributions I have been careful to remind people that teachers are already overworked. If too many expectations are placed on them without the structural, system-level changes, it’s just asking more of teachers who often can’t afford to do more. However, if the standard is up-to-scratch and a live document, then it will provide a good guide to what works well.

So will the standards and guidance be statutory?

No, the main thing that is contentious at the moment is that this advice is non-statutory. On the one hand it makes sense not to impose something else on schools, but some have suggested that it should be statutory.

Is it the right of the teacher to receive professional development?

I believe it is! It’s a matter of feeling like you’re being treated like a professional, and professional learning is important and will make people feel good about their profession. It’s really nice to see that some schools are starting to play around with their timetables in order to fit in this professional learning time. After the first draft is released, I do hope that we can work with some pilot schools, run focus groups and exemplify good practice to see if the advice is workable, manageable and aspirational enough!

So you intend that the standards to be a document not only for schools but also for CPD and ITT providers?

Yes, the professional development standards should be for:

  • teachers: to help them understand that actively thinking about your professional learning and development is really important
  • schools: as you can’t expect teachers to do CPD if you don’t have the time, structures nor permission to do so. The final document will also provide some exemplar systems or guidance for schools to ensure professional learning can take place
  • CPD providers: to help them know what works and doesn’t around CPD in schools.

Interestingly, many schools are also offering their own CPD; so they can answer the questions for calls to evidence from their point of view as a CPD provider as well as a school. We’ve decided to allow the evidence provided by stakeholders to form the backbone of the standards, and we will infuse this with research we already have. After the consultation closes, the DfE will have about 2 weeks to crunch the data then we will run focus groups to find out what people are actually doing!

In terms of CPD in your school, what are the key bits of research which you have taken on board from the Developing Great Teaching report?

Well, we have moved away from one-off inset days and sessions – since the point of these was often unclear. Two years ago we started our inquiry groups where lots of teachers conducted action research and lesson study. We have learned from these along the way, and are refining and tweaking our offer as a result. It picks up on the fact that the best CPD and learning is personalised, collaborative, sustained, iterative and based on experience. We’ve had some amazing results so far! Read the Developing Great Teaching report.

Any final comments?

The ideal is out there but it’s very difficult to make it happen, so schools need to accept that they’re not going to find the silver bullet straight away. There is a real lack of training for some training facilitators; we should have forseen this and attended to it to ensure that training is effectively disseminated. This year we have external input from HE at our ‘learning hubs’ to work together in a sustained way to embed action research. Hopefully it will bear fruits, but there are still so many questions which remain.

How can teachers submit evidence to the expert panel?

Teachers can complete a response form and either email it to or write to: Henry Clarke Department for Education Sanctuary Buildings, L2 Teacher Quality Division, Great Smith Street London SW1P 3BT Remember that you don’t have to answer every question. Not everyone will be in a position to address all of the points. It would be overwhelming for a full-time to teacher to answer all the questions, but they can comment on, for example, ‘something which was really successful in their school’ or ‘a certain CPD activity that really added to their workload’. I think it’s so important that there is a forum for this so that the standards don’t end up being a burden. It’s why I’m so pleased to be on the committee to represent the views of the time-poor teacher.

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