New research data from the Teacher Development Trust, produced by education data specialist SchoolDash, show staff development budgets have fallen by 12 per cent in secondary schools, and 7 per cent in primary schools. The drop is the first reduction since our analysis began in 2011 and suggests that tight school budgets are forcing schools to reduce this essential support for teachers.The new research also shows that levels of continuing professional development (CPD) spending varies enormously around the country. For example, primary schools in Solihull and Blackpool allocate less than £400 per teacher, on average, for professional development and staff training, whereas primary schools in Hampshire and Durham allocate well over £1000 per teacher, on average. There are even starker differences at secondary level, where schools in Bury allocate just £163.50 per teacher, on average, whereas secondary schools in Barking & Dagenham allocate an average of £1045 per teacher.David Weston, CEO, Teacher Development Trust said: “Schools are facing significant funding issues, which are forcing them to spend less on CPD for teachers. This is a great concern, particularly at a time when teacher retention and job satisfaction are big issues. We know that CPD is linked to improved results for pupils, plus better staff morale and retention. Funding pressures are clearly showing on schools – first they’ve been cutting glue sticks and computers and now headteachers are having to cut investment in staff. The fact that it’s such a postcode lottery for staff as to whether they can access development and training is a worry. “Every child deserves high quality teaching, which is why the drop in training budgets is such a concern. We urge government and policy makers to make this a major priority. Clearly, it’s not just what’s being spent but also how money and time are being used and we need a system-wide push to help school leaders use the best, most proven approaches to developing the quality of teaching and support.”English secondary schools already trail behind many other jurisdictions regarding the amount of continuing professional development (CPD) they undertake and this new data suggests this may have dropped further.In response to the data, the Trust has launched the CPD Benchmarking Tool. This is a free tool to help schools to compare their investment in CPD with other schools in their local area, or of a similar intake. By providing some basic information about their school’s CPD, headteachers will receive a detailed report about their own spend in comparison to other schools along with further guidance on how to improve the impact of their CPD spending. The data also suggest that cash-strapped schools have reduced spending on library books, glue sticks, computers and other learning resources, in an effort to try and provide adequate CPD for teachers. John Collier, Director of Teaching and Learning for St. Bart’s Academy Trust in Stoke-on-Trent, said “We’ve always understood that funding teacher development is a big priority, but it’s meant making really tough decisions elsewhere and we’ve had to cut back on other resources like stationery and books. If funding continues to get tighter, we’ll struggle to fund professional development at the current levels.”Read more about these findingsSupport for the research findingsJames Bowen, Director of NAHT Edge,National Association of Head Teachers, said: “This report reflects exactly what we hear from our members – that they are being forced to reduce CPD as school budgets are cut. NAHT’s most recent funding survey showed that 70% of schools have had to reduce investment in CPD due to funding pressures. We also know that finding the time for CPD, especially out of school, is a challenge due to unmanageable workloads. Time for CPD is vital to school improvement and to ensuring children get the very best education. Lack of dedicated investment by the government in this area is a false economy.” Natalie Perera, Executive Director, Education Policy Institute said: “Teachers in England already have poor access to professional development time, compared to other developed nations. These worrying findings suggest that, in response to having to make financial savings, school leaders are now cropping training budgets for their staff. This goes beyond the back office and other “efficiency” savings that the Department for Education has encouraged schools to make. The DfE now needs to consider how it can better support schools to prioritise important areas of expenditure, including professional development for teachers.”Professor Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive,Chartered College of Teaching, said: “Every day we see excellent teaching delivered despite huge pressures. We need to give teachers the opportunities and tools to develop their skills and to be proud of what they are doing. However, due to the demands on their time, learning and development is all too often neglected, with the average teacher in England spending only four days on CPD per year.“If our pupils are to receive the best possible education, we at the Chartered College believe teachers must have access to good quality CPD. With the profession struggling to recruit and retain teachers, we need to show that we are willing to invest in them from the second they enter the classroom”.