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Department for Education white paper amplifies commitment to teacher professional development

Last week, the Department for Education (DfE) published its white paper, Opportunity for All, setting out government policy priorities for the school system in England. The document contains both important new announcements and a renewed and expanded commitment to existing policy principles in areas such as teacher professional development and support for vulnerable individual students.

Education Development Trust welcomes the recognition of the importance of support for teachers and school leaders. In our view, autonomy and accountability are not enough. Education professionals also need systematic support through programmes of professional development. Our interest is not theoretical. On behalf of the DfE, we are a lead provider for the new suite of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) and for training based on the Early Career Framework (ECF). We work in partnership with outstanding Teaching School Hubs on the design and delivery of training for NPQs and for teachers in the first two years of their careers.

Opportunity for All restates the case for a ‘golden thread’, a progressive approach that links professional development from pre-service training through to a range of leadership and specialist roles. These are important ideas and the reforms in England have a significance that goes beyond this country. We recently described the reforms in England and the concept of the ‘golden thread’ in a report intended for policymakers and influencers worldwide.

The white paper considers issues relating to other significant topics where we have expertise including classroom behaviour management, school-based tutoring and careers guidance and education. In partnership with the DfE we are helping schools with outstanding practice relating to behaviour to share their expertise with others. We endorse the importance, in principle, of one-to-one or small group tutoring for at-risk learners; we currently provide training to new tutors engaged in the government’s School Led Tutoring scheme.

Education Development Trust has provided careers services to schools for over 20 years, and we look forward to seeing the launch of ‘a new careers programme for primary schools in areas of disadvantage’ as well as an extension of the legal requirement to provide independent careers guidance to all secondary school children.

We have a longstanding commitment to the idea of evidence-informed professionalism in schools. It is therefore pleasing to see the emphasis in the white paper on the need to mobilise evidence from research, and the government’s commitment to secure the long-term future of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Perhaps the time is now right for a national debate about the kind of evidence that schools need and the ways in which teachers and school leaders can adapt and contextualise messages derived from robust research.