School leaders should focus on the key mechanisms of effective professional development – such as goal setting, feedback or revisiting prior learning – when selecting or designing new training for teaching staff, according to a new guidance report published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
The report, ‘Effective Professional Development’, aims to help schools make sure that professional development is of the highest possible quality, and in turn, that it has the biggest possible impact on teaching practice and pupil outcomes. It focuses on three overarching principles for effective professional development. These are:
- When designing and selecting professional development programmes, school leaders should focus on the mechanisms for development, such as feedback or goal setting.
- Ensure that professional development effectively builds knowledge, motivates staff, develops teaching techniques, and embeds practice.
- Implement professional development programmes with care, taking into consideration the context and needs of the school.
The recommendations in this report have been drawn from a systematic review of the best available international evidence, in addition to a review of current practice in English schools, and in consultation with a panel of expert practitioners and academics.
The report offers clear guidance for senior leaders and department leads in all educational settings – from the early years to post-16 – as well as programme designers, so that they can ensure that their approach to professional development aligns with the evidence base.
It is part of a series providing evidence-based advice for improving teaching in key areas for schools, including behaviour, literacy and science. The EEF will work with the sector, including through its national Research Schools Network, to build on the recommendations in today’s report with further training, resources and guidance.
Professor Becky Francis, EEF chief executive, said: “Whether in early years settings, schools or colleges, it is quality of teaching that has the greatest potential to make the biggest difference to children and young people’s learning.
“There is a real appetite amongst teachers to hone their practice in order to consistently meet the needs of all of their pupils. In the aftermath of the partial school school closures, effective professional development has never been more important.
“It is our hope that this new guidance will support school leaders to make sure that the professional development opportunities they offer their teaching staff are of the highest possible quality and backed up by the best possible evidence.”