Evaluating the impact of CPD

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What do schools do to measure the impact of CPD? We link to guidance from the TDA, a Teaching Expertise article and to school policies with ideas on how schools can evaluate the impact of CPD. We also refer to a National College article on how schools can ensure that CPD is effective.

TDA guidance on evaluating the impact of CPD

Guidance from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) on evaluating the impact of continuing professional development (CPD) explains that it can be difficult to find evidence that clearly shows the link between CPD and pupil achievement.

Therefore, it says that the crucial point to consider is what was intended to be achieved, and what impact could reasonably be expected, in any given time-frame.

Because of these difficulties, schools should plan ahead and evaluate the likely impact of CPD before it is undertaken. They should then use a broad evidence base to consider its impact afterwards.

Such evidence could include the impact on the needs of the school, the learning of children and young people and the individual’s professional development. Schools should also consider this evidence according to the role of the participant and type of activity undertaken.

The document also suggests that there are eight underlying principles to consider when evaluating the impact of CPD:

  • Planning for CPD and the evaluation of its impact should be integral to performance management
  • Impact evaluation should focus on what participants learn, how they use what they have learnt, and the effect on the learning of children and young people
  • There should be an agreed timeline for evaluating outcomes, accepting that some outcomes, such as children and young people’s improved performance, may take longer to become evident than others. Unanticipated outcomes will also be considered by the review
  • Planning and implementation of the impact evaluation should be a collaborative process between the individual and key staff involved in performance management and/or coaching and mentoring
  • The evidence base and success criteria for the evaluation of impact should be agreed
  • Impact evaluation should be considered in the short-, medium- and long-term. Longer-term professional development activities should involve formative reviews of impact at agreed stages
  • The evaluation of impact should include a cost-benefit analysis of the professional development
  • The processes for evaluating the impact of CPD activities should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are effective and proportionate

The document also includes a list of questions and prompts for participants and CPD leaders to use both when planning CPD and when evaluating its impact.

Teaching Expertise article on measuring the impact of CPD

In an article for Teaching Expertise, Sara Bubb says that “too often, people engage in activities but change does not take place.”

In order to measure the effectiveness of activities, she sets out seven points for staff to consider. These might lead to the following questions:

  • How did you feel about the activity while doing it?
  • Did you learn or improve something?
  • What organisational support was needed?
  • Did you do something as a result?
  • Did it have an impact on pupils?
  • Did it have an impact on other staff, and, in turn, their pupils?
  • Did it have an impact on staff and pupils in other schools?

Bubb suggests that it could be useful to use the questions in reverse order at the planning stage. Staff could first of all identify the improvement they want to see in pupils and how they will know when it’s been achieved, and work backwards to ask what needs to change in order to create that impact.

School policies explaining how the impact of CPD is evaluated

Some schools have CPD policies which set out how the impact of CPD is evaluated. In the CPD policy from the Knights Templar School in Hertfordshire, for example, there is a section on ‘Evaluating impact and disseminating good practice’.

It says that following any CPD activity, the participant will provide relevant feedback and communicate to the CPD leader the potential opportunities to disseminate the information to other staff. The CPD leader will then be responsible for organising training where potential opportunities are agreed.

Such opportunities could include circulating relevant resources, organising a session with staff or a subject meeting, introducing a teaching or learning strategy or updating inclusion information on the school website.

Following this, the CPD leader will then regularly review the school’s CPD provision and the impact of training and make recommendations to the headteacher and governing body on aspects which do not provide value for money.

During this process, the CPD leader uses objective data and will consider the benefit of CPD in relation to:

The CPD leader will regularly review the school's CPD provision and the impact of training

  • Pupil and school attainment
  • Record keeping
  • Effective and embedded teaching and learning such as creativity, autonomy and a greater variety of teaching and learning approaches
  • The climate of supporting success and effort
  • Staff confidence, enrichment, motivation, self-esteem, preparedness to take risks, collaboration and reflectiveness
  • Pupil enthusiasm, engagement and commitment
  • Recruitment and retention
  • Career progression and promotable staff

Devon County Council’s model CPD policy for schools also has a section on evaluating the impact of CPD. It says that the measures which will be used to determine the impact of CPD are:

  • Participant evaluation
  • Pupil and school attainment
  • Student voice
  • External and internal evaluation and the inspection processes
  • Recruitment and retention data
  • The changing qualification profile of staff

The Key has another article with more examples of CPD policies. You can read this by following the link below:

National College article on ensuring that CPD is effective

In an article written by a headteacher for the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services (National College), there is a list of suggestions on how school leaders can continue to deliver effective CPD despite budget restrictions.

The article says that the most effective CPD programmes are linked to the collective needs and priorities of the school, and should vary according to the individual needs of staff. Plans should also include a degree of flexibility in case circumstances change or new training opportunities become available.

The most effective CPD programmes are linked to the collective needs and priorities of the school

The headteacher also says that the key characteristics of any effective programme are that it should:

  • Develop personal as well as professional growth. Those who participate should feel they have ‘moved on’ and have been inspired to increase their knowledge further
  • Be structured to have clear outcomes that benefit the individual, the organisation, or both
  • Be viewed as an entitlement for all members of staff and decisions regarding the allocation of resources should be transparent, fair and equitable
  • Be led by experienced and professionally creditable presenters with a deep understanding of the subject
  • Provide the opportunity to work in collaboration with other colleagues through formal training sessions, informal networking, placements in other schools or by ‘acting up’ in your own school

Additional sources and further reading

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