The Hallmarks of Effective Professional Development

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How do you know if professional development is any good in your school?

Based on some of the schools that I have worked with, from primary, secondary, independent and state schools, free schools, grammars, academies and international schools, here are how schools are meeting the challenges of professional development.

  1. CPD is protected
  2. It is calendared for the academic year
  3. There are clear programmes of study, linked to whole school priorities
  4. Accessing educational research has a grassroots approach
  5. The leadership team take a step back, but interestingly always take part
  6. Teaching and learning ideas are presented, interpreted and evaluated; teachers discuss how ideas work in the classroom
  7. Discussions are honest, non-threatening and reflective
  8. There is collegiality, with external visitors and partnership schools collaborating
  9. Support staff are catered for; they stand up in front of the teaching colleagues and present on things they have learnt
  10. Membership to organisations such as the Chartered College of Teaching, subject associations, unions is encouraged
  11. One per cent of the school’s overall budget is protected
  12. Schools offer a mixture of morning, lunch and after-school sessions to meet the needs of all their staff, including those with flexible working conditions
  13. Absent and part-time staff have a follow-up session
  14. Childcare facilities, diversity, gender as well as research, are high on the agenda
  15. Gone are the days of one person at the front, reading Powerpoint slides
  16. Traditional isolated days are disaggregated and time throughout the year is offered for a more rhythm
  17. Lesson reflection is paramount, with some developing an alternative approach where teachers build up their own portfolio of evidence
  18. Appraisal has moved swiftly from performance management to research enquiry More details and research explained in my forthcoming book.

We are a good way off these ideas taking place in all of our schools; funding, policies and support from external agencies matter, but teachers and schools are generally best-placed to get the best out of pupils. We need to empower them to do so …


In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

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