MPs call for national CPD ‘annual entitlement’ to boost teacher retention rates

The government should roll out an annual entitlement of continual professional development (CPD) for all teachers to boost retention rates, cross-party MPs have claimed.

The education select committee has today published the findings of its teacher recruitment and retention inquiry, which found the government lacks a long-term plan to address teacher shortages. It warned that rising pupil numbers at secondary level and the EBacc would worsen the recruitment situation, particularly in certain subjects.

The committee, which compiled written and oral evidence on teacher recruitment and retention since 2015, urged the government to “recognise its own role in promoting the professional development of teachers”, including a “central statement of annual CPD entitlement” for each teacher.

They also recommended the government release “targeted funding” for CPD, and said Ofsted should check schools are encouraging CPD during its inspections.

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the committee, said a “long-term plan” must be put in place by the Department for Education to tackle teacher workload, raise the status of teaching and ensure access to professional development.

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If not, teachers would be “driven away from the classroom and into alternative careers”, Carmichael warned.

He added: “Holding fire on major policy changes and allowing a longer lead-in for government initiatives would allow schools time to focus on subject-specific professional development, rather than being distracted by the demands of the latest Whitehall directive.”

But the DfE has said secondary postgraduate recruitment is “at its highest since 2011”, and the government would be investing more than £1.3 billion in recruitment over this parliament.

The report stated teachers in England have no entitlement to CPD – even though teachers in Scotland are entitled to 35 hours a year, with teachers in Singapore given 100 hours a year.

As a result teachers in England may feel less supported and be more likely to leave the profession, the inquiry found.

A spokesperson for the committee told Schools Week that the details of any annual entitlement to CPD – such as whether it could become statutory or a minimum number of hours – should be decided between school leaders and the government.

Although CPD exists in English schools, sessions are often about curriculum changes, Ofsted and Prevent training, experts told the committee.

Instead the report strongly recommended subject-specific CPD, to ensure the “maintenance and acquisition of subject knowledge” among teachers.

Professor Sir John Holman, a senior advisor in education at the Wellcome Trust and Gatsby Foundation, told the inquiry that subject knowledge enhancement should be available during a teacher’s entire career and not just during their ITT year, as is currently the case.

He added that “you can be more cost-effective” by improving retention of teachers than by constantly having to recruit and train new ones.

The report also highlighted problems with the quality of current CPD sessions. Dr Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend high school for boys in Essex, said some CPD providers were like “snake oil salesmen” who did “fabulous charismatic presentations” with little long-lasting impact.

Ofsted should monitor teacher workload in inspections, since “unmanageable workloads” were a “key factor” in teachers leaving the profession, added the report.

MPs said more needs to be done to implement the recommendations in the Workload Challenge, and proposed a potential “cap” on the number of hours teachers work outside of teaching time.

But Malcolm Trobe (pictured left), interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said successive caps to teacher pay had worsened workload pressures.

“Schools are having to cut the number of teaching and support staff, and this inevitably means more work for those who remain.”

The report comes as the number of new entrants to initial teacher training (ITT) courses dropped this year, according to the 2016-17 trainee census. The government has also missed its targets for initial teacher education for the last five years.

It follows similar warnings over the state of teacher recruitment and retention from the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, as well as the closure of the National Teaching Service in December 2016 – designed to place middle and senior leaders in areas of high need – after too few teachers signed up to a pilot.

A spokesperson for the DfE said the government “recognised there were challenges” and added that Justine Greening, education secretary, had “set out her ambition to continue driving up standards through investment in professional development so the best teachers stay in the profession.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted stated they already inspect the effectiveness of CPD – particularly leadership and management of training – during section 5 inspections.

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  1. Emma Towers

    This report is very welcome and highlights a key factor which motivates teachers to remain in the profession. I’ve just recently completed a doctoral study on the reasons why teachers stay in their schools and having good quality CPD scores high in the reasons why those staying teachers continue in the profession. However, the points made in this article about the kind of CPD which should be on offer are also crucial in keeping teachers motivated. This is where great school leadership comes in. Good heads and school leaders can identify the right kind of professional development opportunities for their individual teachers; these leaders really know their teachers and know what they need to keep them motivated. This in turn makes teachers feel valued and recognised. Additionally school leaders who create collaborative school cultures which support peer learning, collegiality and risk-taking makes for a happier and healthier school. Although the excessive bureaucratic and accountability demands placed on teachers right now can be demoralising, I found that teachers who are happy in their schools will often say that a great headteacher, the caring school ethos, friendly colleagues and career development opportunities will outweigh the negative aspects of their job.