Teacher CPD would boost pupil attainment and earnings

Providing teachers with a right to high-quality training and development would boost pupil attainment and earnings, and may tackle retention problems in the profession, a study from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has shown.

While continuing professional development (CPD) can be important to ensuring teacher quality and progression, there is currently no formal entitlement to high quality support offered by the government. Teachers in England currently participate in less CPD than their international counterparts, while the quality of CPD programmes on offer often fails to meet government standards.

The new report, commissioned by Wellcome, finds that a well-implemented policy of 35 hours a year of high quality CPD for teachers would lead to significant benefits for pupils, including an extra two-thirds of a GCSE grade – improving their lifetime earnings by over £6,000.

The EPI cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that in total, a CPD entitlement programme costing £4bn would generate a net societal benefit of around £61bn through higher earnings – a benefit 19 times the cost. However, these considerable gains are dependent on the policy being rolled-out effectively on a national scale.

In the immediate term, a policy of CPD entitlement could also significantly improve retention, leading to up to 12,000 extra teachers remaining in the profession a year. A retention boost of this scale would help to ease the Department for Education’s recurring recruitment problems. Typically, it falls short by around 3,000 teachers a year.

The government is currently exploring plans for improving the CPD offer for teachers as part of its long-term plan to tackle learning loss experienced by pupils as a result of the pandemic.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced this month that training and development for teachers would be “central” to the government’s wider education recovery plan, which is currently being led by the Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As the government formulates this long-term programme to support both pupils and teachers, this study provides timely evidence of the high returns generated from well-implemented, high quality teacher CPD.
The report found that professional development can be crucial for teachers, but the quality of programmes is mixed and England lags behind other countries.

Secondary school teachers in England spend on average just 43 hours a year on CPD – well below the OECD average of 62 hours a year.

Despite teachers in England undertaking less CPD than their international counterparts, they still do more than the proposed entitlement of 35 hours each year. However, it is likely that the majority of CPD currently being provided in England does not meet the criteria for high-quality CPD. A recent Wellcome CPD pilot showed that just 11% of CPD taken up by teachers met the government’s quality criteria.

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