An international research review released today (9th June 2015) by the Teacher Development Trust with support from TES Global has called for an urgent move away from models of one-off, one-day continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers to more effective longer-term programmes of support and engagement.

The report, Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development report, provides teachers, school leaders, CPD providers, policy makers and the wider education sector with an in-depth insight into what constitutes effective CPD.

Commissioned by the Teacher Development Trust with support from TES Global, the research was conducted by an expert team from Durham University, The Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE) and the UCL Institute of Education, providing a robust up-to-date overview of the lessons that can be taken from existing international reviews into effective CPD.

David Weston, Chief Executive at The Teacher Development Trust and Chair of the Department for Education’s CPD Expert Group, says: “The right types of teacher development help students succeed and teachers thrive. However, too much provision in England has inconsistent quality and a lack of focus on pupils needs. As a result, we run a serious risk of lagging behind our international counterparts when it comes to empowering teachers to help our pupils.

“Teaching is the most fundamentally important profession for our future generation and we need to harness the very best evidence about how to grow our teachers. This means ensuring that all teachers in England have access to the types of activities and processes that are most likely to make a positive difference on their practice and, importantly, student outcomes. We commissioned this research to support teachers, school leaders and providers to improve the decision making, policy and processes they use around teachers’ CPD.“

The report, launched today at the House of Commons, identifies eight components of effective CPD including:

  1. The duration and rhythm of effective CPD support requires a longer-term focus – at least two terms to a year or longer is most effective, with follow up, consolidation and support activities built in.
  2. Participants’ needs should be carefully considered – this requires stepping away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach and creating content for teachers that integrates their day-to-day experiences and aspirations for their pupils with a shared and powerful sense of purpose.
  3. Alignment of professional development processes, content and activities – ensuring there is a logical thread between the various components of the programme and creating opportunities for teacher learning that are consistent.
  4. The content of effective professional development should consider both subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogy in order to achieve the full potential of CPD, with clarity around learners’ progress. In addition, content and activities should help teachers understand how pupils learn, both generally and in specific subject areas.
  5. Effective professional development is associated with certain activities – these include explicit discussions, experimenting and testing ideas in the classroom and analysis of, and reflection around, the evidence and relevant assessment data.
  6. External input from providers and specialists must challenge orthodoxies within a school and provide multiple, diverse perspectives – facilitators acting as coaches and/or mentors should provide support through modelling, observation and feedback.
  7. Empowering teachers through collaboration and peer learning – teachers should have opportunities to work together, try out and refine new approaches and tackle teaching and learning challenges.
  8. Powerful leadership around professional development is pivotal in defining staff opportunities and embedding cultural change – school leaders should not leave the learning to teachers, they should be actively involved themselves.


The research team – consisting of CUREE CEO Philippa Cordingley, Durham University’s Professor Steve Higgins and Professor Toby Greany from the Institute of Education, UCL – said: “The report provides new and robust guidance about the ineffectiveness of generic, ‘one size fits no-one’ CPD.  It highlights the importance of building assessment for learning for teachers into the design of CPD at every stage in order to contextualise new approaches for subjects and pupils. It also confirms the reliability of established evidence about, for example, the importance of sustained, evidence-rich, collaborative professional learning focussed on teachers’ aspirations for their learners.“

The report was launched at a parliamentary event held by the Teacher Development Trust with generous support from Oxford University Press.  All three members of the research team spoke at the event summarising their findings.  Key representatives from Oxford University Press, TES Global and NAHT also discussed the implications, opening a wider debate amongst the education sector.

Liz Free, Head of Professional Development at Oxford University Press, said: “Today’s findings mean that teachers and school leaders can better understand the consistent features of successful CPD and can use these to raise standards of teaching and learning.  As professional development providers, we need to ensure that the provision offered supports teachers and school communities in this journey.  In this way, we can get closer to our shared aim of transformational teaching and learning, leading to better pupil outcomes for all”.

The full review, Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development is available to download from In addition, a summary paper is available providing a snapshot of the review’s findings.



For more information, please contact Laura Smith on / 07467 945848 or Lisa Church on / 07467 945661

Notes to Editors

About the ‘Developing Great Teaching’ research

  • The Developing Great Teaching: Lessons from the international reviews into what constitutes effective CPD was commissioned by the Teacher Development Trust with support from TES Global.
  • The research review was conducted by a team from Durham University, CUREE and the UCL Institute of Education using a variety of digital academic resources including FirstSearch, JSTOR, Google Scholar and others’ targeted reviews of CPD and teacher learning published since 2000.
  • It provides the finest understanding yet of the lessons that can be taken from the international reviews into effective CPD.
  • The initial search identified 947 “hits”, which were filtered using a series of screening processes designed to exclude any reviews of which the evidence base was not deemed sufficiently strong for inclusion.
  • The remaining reviews were sub-categorised into four groups: a single study that was strong in multiple areas, a further three studies that were robust but more focused on particular areas of practice, another four studies that were less robust in terms of supporting evidence but tightly focused in the relevant areas and with systematic use of pre- and post-test data and one additional review included due to is claims being consistent with the broader evidence base.
  • The reviews were analysed separately and their findings split into a series of claims, which were then compared and contrasted and weighted according to the strength of the evidence supporting them, before being grouped thematically.

About the Teacher Development Trust

  • The Teacher Development Trust is the independent national charity for teacher training and professional development.
  • Launched by teachers in 2012, the Trust works with government, schools and colleges, subject associations, teaching unions, universities, as well as many profit and non-profit organisations from across the education spectrum, both in the UK and abroad.
  • The Teacher Development Trust is dedicated to improving the educational outcomes for children by raising the quality of teacher professional development, raising awareness of the importance of professional development and building tools to help teachers to transform their practice and achieve success for all their pupils.
  • The Trust believes that demand for professional learning should be driven by the aspiration teachers have for the children they teach and the passion they bring to their work.
  • The Trust is determined to bring about radical improvement in the quality of the ongoing training that teachers receive based on the evidence of what creates effective learning.
  • The Teacher Development Trust works with organisations around the world to promote the best possible practice in using and delivering professional development in education. Services include:
  • Good CPD Guide: a national database of courses, consultancy services, books, videos and podcasts with teacher reviews and official quality ratings. This includes an official partnership with the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit
  • The National Teacher Enquiry Network, a revolutionary approach to professional development, school improvement and teacher-led research
  • Free advice for teachers, schools and training providers.
  • Support and consultancy for training providers (including schools) to help them deliver professional development courses and consultancy that have sustainable impact and value in the classroom.
  • Research services to help you pinpoint the evidence behind your professional development policies and programmes.
  • Registered charity number 1147447
  • For further information, visit or follow the Teacher Development Trust on Twitter @TeacherDevTrust