Teaching is in a crisis of morale, recruitment and retention, so policy ideas to try and tackle this are particularly important. Amongst a number of policies announced by the Labour Party recently, the one that caught our eye here at the TDT was the plan for a CPD entitlement, on page 11 of their mission document on Breaking Down the Barriers to Opportunity:

“Labour will work with schools to deliver a ‘Teacher Training Entitlement’, including backfilling roles so teachers at every stage of their career can be released for training, and ensuring guidance is available on evidence-based, high-quality professional development.”

Whilst not a silver bullet, we are convinced that an entitlement could be a powerful part of a solution, if done well.  We are fortunate to be working in a system with a strong evidence base on effective professional development, and Labour is able to build on the work already done to establish a clearer regime for professional development with the introduction of the Early Career Framework and National Professional Qualifications – the so-called ‘Golden Thread’.  Importantly, as this report published by the EPI shows, an entitlement need not be prohibitively expensive.  However, done badly, it could be a damaging intervention, at best costly and pointless and at worst becoming an additional burden on already overstretched teachers and school leaders.

Both teachers and school leaders need a policy that is professionalising, empowering and contextually relevant. The key to success will be how any entitlement is framed, implemented in schools, and supported by the Government (both structurally and financially).  We are launching an expert group to consider how such an entitlement could be delivered so that any new policy taken forward in this space ensures that more schools feel like great places to work and develop so that the best wisdom of the profession can be used in every classroom to help children thrive and succeed.  The members of the expert group bring experience that allows them to synthesise diverse voices and views from classrooms, from schools and from research into advice that will translate well for policy makers and politicians.  In addition, we will be holding three evidence sessions with key stakeholders in the autumn ahead of publishing a report in the spring.  The evidence sessions will consider:

  • What should an entitlement include?
  • How should an entitlement be delivered? And,
  • What does the government need to do (and ask others to do) to make it a reality?

To support these sessions, we will be holding focus groups with teachers and leaders across the country to make sure that ideas are grounded in the real experience of being a teacher and in leading schools.  And, of course, we want to make sure that we consider the many different circumstances that teachers work in – by phase or subject, in rural or urban settings, in special schools, in alternative provision, etc. – to ensure that any entitlement is responsive to all needs.  We will also want to consider how other professions support entitlements and expectations around professional development to see whether there are models we can draw on for teaching.  In line with the announcement by Labour, we will focus on schools but keep an open mind for lessons that might apply to early years, further education, and higher education.

We will also ensure we are taking account of the significant work that has already been undertaken in this area.  Back in 2017, the then Secretary of State, Justine Greening, spoke at the launch of the Chartered College of Teaching about the need to support professional development and identity:

“Teaching deserves all the hallmarks of the other great professions – with a high bar to entry, high-quality initial training and a culture of ongoing self-improvement… It is important that all teachers are supported with the right framework that will allow them to become the best professionals they possibly can be.  A framework of support that will allow the profession – your profession – to flourish.”

So, although this expert group is responding to a Labour initiative, it is building on work very much underway across the system already.  Our hope is that together we can help to shape a future policy that ensures all teachers and leaders are able to access the right training for them – relevant to their job, career stage, and ambitions – in a way that both helps to strengthen the sense of professionalism that is so important to supporting recruitment and retention, and helps teachers and leaders develop the ability to make the most profound positive impact on the children in their care.

Members of the Expert Group 

  • Gareth Conyard (Chair) – Co-CEO, TDT
  • David Weston – Co-CEO, TDT
  • Cat Scutt – Deputy CEO, Chartered College of Teaching
  • Sam Twisleton – Professor Emeritus, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Sufian Sadiq – Director of Talent and Teaching School at Chiltern Learning Trust
  • Sam Sims – Leading academic, working at UCL and Ambition
  • Sarah Botchway – Director, London South Teaching School Hub
  • Faye Lawlor – Secretariat, TDT

First published in Schools Week, Monday 14th August 2023