Headlines: March 26th, 2010

The country’s most successful schools use continuing professional development as a way to help bring about improved standards, according to a report today from Ofsted. The report shows that many good schools use their Ofsted inspection reports to identify priorities for improvement but sets out challenges that still face schools.

The report, ‘Good professional development in schools’, looks at the progress schools are making in ongoing training of teachers and other staff. It is based on visits by inspectors to forty schools where previous inspections had found good or outstanding practice in professional development.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said providing professional development for staff not only brought benefits to them but also to pupils who experienced improved teaching. “Professional development is most effective in schools that understand and realise its potential for raising standards. The most successful schools plan for ongoing improvements, then monitor and evaluate their progress so that they can tackle any weaknesses,” she said.

The report identifies three remaining challenges for schools. The first is the lack of training in subjects other than mathematics and English, especially in primary schools. Even when good external courses are available, schools have been slow to take up places, the report says and it calls for the Training and Development Agency for Schools to disseminate the range of subject-specific continuing professional development. The second challenge is how well schools monitor and evaluate the ongoing training of teachers and the third is that weak evaluation fails to give enough attention to the value for money training provides.