Today (Friday 15th), the Department for Education has published a consultation on the future of teacher development. This comes after yesterday’s launch of Justine Greening’s plan for improving social mobility.

Taken together, there’s a lot of focus on the development of teachers and teaching. Here’s 3 key things that you need to know about the DfE’s new thinking.

  1. There will be a longer period of support for teachers in their early careers. The proposals effectively extend the current NQT year into two years, allowing a greater depth of engagement with the huge amount of knowledge and skill that teachers are expected to acquire. It’s also intended to be supported by an investment in much greater expertise and provision for mentoring. This is something that many in the profession have been calling for over many years. DfE suggests that topics covered in greater depth could include:
    1. Subject and curriculum knowledge
    2. Evidence-based pedagogy, including subject-specific pedagogy
    3. Use of and engagement with evidence
    4. Behaviour management
    5. Use and understanding of assessment
    6. Supporting pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND).
  2. There will be a greater focus on teachers getting access to the time, money and expertise they need to engage in ongoing, evidence-based professional development. This could include:
    1. A new badge of CPD quality that teachers and school leaders can use to make better decisions about which external CPD to use, for greater quality, impact and value for money.
    2. Strengthen expectations around the amount of time available to teachers for CPD, with a clearer focus on quality and relevance.
    3. More support for Masters-level study.
  3. A bigger focus on career routes for teachers that doesn’t force them into management and out of the classroom. This builds on existing support for the Chartered College of Teaching and suggests other ways to offer specialist and subject-focused development routes.

The Teacher Development Trust welcomes these three big ideas. We also welcome the logic that funding for these initiatives should be prioritised in areas of the country where there are the biggest challenges in attracting, retaining and developing teachers. We would like to see one more big idea introduced – a big investment in the capacity of schools to lead and facilitate professional development. We will also be watching the development of these ideas carefully; they can only work with an emphasis on quality evidence, professional respect for teachers and a fair and even-handed approach to working with the huge range of CPD providers, from huge multi-national corporations through schools and charities to individual consultants and teachers.

All of this is against a backdrop of tight funding, severe challenges in recruitment and retention, and continued heavy pressures from accountability. We believe that these big issues also need addressing, though we recognise that this will take time and requires tough decisions elsewhere in government. In the meantime, the three big ideas presented around developing the teaching workforce are a welcome reflection of the Secretary of State’s continued commitment in this area.