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The teaching profession is up against it at the moment. It faces challenges around recruitment and retention, restrictions on funding, and too often feels a lack of trust in its ability to educate children and young people.

As an organisation, we know that one of the most powerful ways to support teachers and school leaders is to give them the opportunity to access professional development. That is why, in response to the Labour Party’s mission document on Breaking Down the Barriers to Opportunity, we began to explore their proposal of an entitlement to continuous professional development. 

There are a number of things to consider when thinking about what an entitlement to CPD might look like, such as:

  • what is the current perception of CPD in the sector?

  • what counts as CPD?

  • what is currently available and is it effective?

  • how much funding is available (and what activity should be funded)?

  • how will it be fair and equitable?

  • how will it be delivered and measured?

  • how will teachers and school leaders know the development undertaken is having an impact on the quality of teaching? 

Although we are convinced that an entitlement could have a positive impact on the system, even a couple of exploratory questions show that introducing a policy around an entitlement to CPD is not as straightforward as it may seem. 

We resolved to explore these and other questions in more detail, so we can set out what a future entitlement might look like and how it can be achieved. Following a number of interviews, focus groups, surveys and broader consultation with the key stakeholders, and in collaboration with our expert group (who we would like to thank!), we have published a report that explores and sets out eight clear recommendations around embedding a culture of CPD in the profession and what government should do to mobilise it.

These include continuing to fully fund the so-called Golden Thread of the Early Career Framework and National Professional Qualifications, funding the creation of a number of tools to support effective professional development conversations, and allocating the majority of any new entitlement funding to schools so they can use it to make informed decisions.

Although written in response to the Labour Party’s intentions to launch an entitlement, this report outlines a much broader initiative that seeks to capitalise on the current appetite for investing in CPD by advocating for personal choice and accountability. The current foundations laid by the ECF and NPQs have been important reforms to respond to this need, but the idea of an entitlement allows us to go further. This includes placing greater trust in the sector – supported through the development of key tools – that leads to an approach with more autonomy to engage with CPD that is relevant and applicable to local context, career aspirations, and practice. We propose a long-term, phased and multifaceted approach which puts developing professionalism, meaningful impact and collaboration with teachers at the core. 

 While our recommendations do not present a ‘quick win’ or ‘one size fits all’ approach to introducing a CPD entitlement, it does reflect the reality of the sector in its current form.

In order to create the environment where an entitlement to CPD (alongside other opportunities) can flourish, there has to be time for the sector to adjust and transition. This is why we have proposed a five year plan involving each of our recommendations, that steers policy makers to a realistic and achievable timeframe to establish a professional culture where professional development is supported and perceived as a priority. Collectively, our recommendations and proposed time scale is an attempt to kickstart a refreshed dialogue between teachers and policy makers.

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