Impacts of Professional Development on Pupil outcomes

Research Study: 2015


The Gants Hill Partnership established a working party in 2015 to investigate the following question: What forms of professional development have the most sustainable impact on raising pupil achievement?

It gathered and reviewed the latest research and literature in this field. Many conclusions were available from the literature review, however the working party decided to study our own practice to contribute to the debate, and generate our own learning.

Partnership schools were invited to participate in the study to complete a review of recent strategic initiatives, using a bespoke form, to gather data. A total of ten studies were submitted from four schools between June and October 2015.

Feedback from participating schools indicated that the format that was used has proved to be supportive not only for evaluating impacts but also for planning the process of change.

General findings from the initial study

A)  A critical factor in managing change emerged clearly, especially for initiatives led by non-SLT members, namely the support and endorsement from the SLT and the Head Teacher in particular. Where support was not prominent, initiatives and impact were frequently undermined. In such instances progress was slow and change often failed to embed. The direct support and promotion of change by the Head Teacher was crucial in order to realise meaningful impacts.

B)  The process of realising embedded change is lengthy and must not be underestimated. Deep engagement with underpinning pedagogy typically takes years to realise. Failure to take this into account can result in superficial change. New practices frequently dissipate over time and even disappear altogether if the agendas are not returned to and embedded.

C)  The process of follow-up to initial input had considerable impact on driving change and ensuring initial gains were built upon.

D)  “Quick fix” approaches in secure schools can have an initial impact on transmitting knowledge and skills but rarely bring about deep engagement or sustainable change.

E)  However, it was recognised that managing the process of change over at least a two-year period, using the approach of introduction, consolidation, embedding, was not appealing, especially for schools needing to address concerns over low standards.

Elements of CPD that usually have the greatest impact

  1. initial whole-school input session/s to introduce pedagogy, skills and knowledge
  2. activities that follow-through from this
  3. sessions that model teaching methods
  4. long-term projects
  5. a wide “learning community” content
  6. a whole school project context to initiatives
  7. regular reflections and review of progress (working parties and whole school)
  8. differentiated training
  9. communication of progress to the wider school community (parents, governors, LA, wider research community, other schools)
  10. role clarity for participants in planning initiatives
  11. identify the accountability for participants, broader and more differentiated
  12. identify initiative leaders
  13. connected training for teaching Assistants
  14. use the principles and structures of “outcomes-based planning” for clarifying goals and milestones

Click on the link below to access the evaluation form: