Today’s proposals are crucial for a CPD entitlement that works

A new report by the Teacher Development Trust lays the foundations for making Labour’s policy work – but a new government will need to build on them further

A new report by the Teacher Development Trust lays the foundations for making Labour’s policy work – but a new government will need to build on them further

1 Mar 2024, 12:30

The Teacher Development Trust (TDT) have today published a report that seeks to inform Labour’s commitment to introducing a ‘CPD entitlement’ for teachers if they are successful in the forthcoming general election – or indeed, the introduction of such an entitlement by any current or future government.

Proposals include the continued funding of the ECF and NPQs, the development and funding of a set of tools to support the growth of well-evidenced CPD and effective decision making, and a fundamental commitment to support and trust the profession over the choices it makes around CPD.

These proposals are absolutely crucial if such an entitlement is to be a success.

An entitlement to CPD sounds highly appealing as a general principle; high-quality CPD can support job satisfaction, retention, wellbeing and effectiveness, and EPI have also demonstrated there are economic benefits of investment in it.

But there are huge risks at the implementation stage. As we have seen all too often in education, even the most well-intentioned proposals can have unintended consequences when not introduced in genuine partnership with the profession. Against a backdrop of significant workload issues as well as the erosion of trust between schools and government over the past few years, there is a real risk that the introduction of a CPD entitlement becomes a burden rather than a benefit.

That is why we are pleased to see the emphasis on partnership between government and schools in today’s report, as well as the insistence on trusting schools to make their own decisions. The latter is evident in the idea of providing additional CPD funding directly to schools, providing them with the autonomy to choose the CPD they invest in.

The flexibility and autonomy it proposes does not mean, however, that the report lacks aspiration for what teachers and schools should be engaging with in terms of CPD. The idea that professional development is not just an entitlement but an expectation for teachers is vital. As the professional body for teachers, we see teachers’ commitment to their own career-long development and learning as one of the cornerstones of what it means to be a professional.

A CPD entitlement cannot sit in isolation from other reforms

We like, too, that the proposals seek to broaden the CPD that is available. The work that has been done to develop the ‘golden thread’ demonstrates a strong commitment to CPD. However, the time is right to recognise the much wider range of high-quality, tailored development opportunities teachers would like to engage with if funding was available. The proposal to stimulate and fund development of new CPD programmes that meet specific needs can play a crucial role here.

But we would argue that the proposals could go even further. As well as increasing the funding that goes into schools for CPD and which schools can allocate as they choose, we would advocate broadening the range of formal qualifications that are funded centrally by government rather than from the schools’ entitlement budget. This could encompass not just NPQs as currently, but also Masters-level programmes offered by HEIs and pathways such as Chartered status, whether completed through the Chartered College of Teaching or through subject associations. This would open up opportunity for teachers to engage with a wider set of high-quality qualifications aligned to their needs and preferences.

We are pleased to see the report’s recognition that settings such as special schools, alternative provision and small schools may have particular needs and that this should be taken into account when considering funding allocation. The proposals focus specifically on teachers and leaders in schools, but the report makes the point that other settings (such as early years and further education) and other roles (such as teaching assistants) need to be considered too; we think this is crucial to prevent further inconsistency in funding and in recognition.

As a final point, it is worth noting more generally that an introduction of a CPD entitlement cannot sit in isolation from other education reforms. Alone, this will not resolve the recruitment, retention and workload crises nor lessen the ever-increasing demands placed on schools because of cuts to other services. For the CPD entitlement to be a success, we need these issues to be directly addressed by government too.

But it is a powerful and exciting part of the picture, and it is one that has the Chartered College of Teaching’s wholehearted support. We welcome the report’s recognition of the role we should play in this new entitlement, including by developing a professional development portal to support teachers and leaders with CPD decision-making. More than that, as a truly independent body, we believe we can play a key role in creating continuity, stability and sustainability in professional learning amid necessary reform.

To read Teacher Development Trust’s full report, click here

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  1. I am concerned and sceptical. Putting the emphasis on push; on CPD – ie programmes offered to teachers and leaders – almost guarantees a one size fits none approach. The emphasis should be on Continuing Professional Development and Learning it CPDL and on strengthening the professional learning environment in schools . The entitlement should focus on enabling the profession to build its learning muscles; to become great at making use of programmes, coaching and enquiry opportunities in order systematically apply what is being offered from other contexts to their own context athis building on their local expertise. This approaches professional learning through the wrong end of the telescope. In so doing it contributes to building an almost industrial CPD complex sadly divorced from Higher Education, at the expense of richer school learning environments.