Seven ways to maximise your CPD spend

Written by: David Weston | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

With huge cost pressures facing schools, making the most of every pound spent on, and every second of staff time dedicated to, CPD is crucial. David Weston offers seven ways you can think about maximising the impact of this enormous investment

In recent analysis, SchoolDash and the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) discovered that, on average, schools’ spending on staff professional development has fallen by more than 40% in real terms since 2018. This fall has been particularly acute in primary schools (Hannay, 2022).

However, this masks the true amount spent on developing staff in schools: the most effective leadership decisions that create real impact and value become clearer when leaders have the full picture. Read on…

Most school leaders have felt significant financial pressure, especially in the last year, with huge additional pressures hitting budgets, particularly around staffing and energy.

And yet, with teachers and support staff becoming increasingly hard to recruit, every leader knows that getting the professional development offer right is key to attracting and keeping the best staff.

So what can you do to maximise the impact of what you are spending and ensure that it goes further?

First, let’s look at your real investment. Let’s say you’re the average secondary, with a CPD budget that – if you spent it only on teachers – would work out as £371 per teacher.

However, that is nowhere near your total investment. You are also probably paying for each teacher to have five INSET days.

If you took a typical teacher on Upper 1 pay and add the additional amount you pay for their pensions and National Insurance, that is already a cost of around £266 per working day or £1,330 for all five INSET days. This already means that your CPD budget per-teacher is only (roughly) 20% of your real spending on professional development.

And that’s without considering the amount of time you are paying your staff for things like:

  • Performance management conversations.
  • Leadership of professional development, teaching and learning.
  • Discussions about developing curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and practice that take place within other whole staff meetings or subject team meetings.

Realistically, even with the average CPD budget, your real spend on professional development is going to be well in excess of £2,000 per teacher.

Therefore, ultimately, your CPD budget may be under pressure, but that just means you need even more impact from all of your in-house staff time and even more quality in how it is being led.

In this article I would like to offer seven ways to think about maximising the impact of that enormous investment and below I signpost to a number of ways that the work of the Teacher Development Trust can support you.

1, Building skills

Invest in building the skills of your senior and middle leaders to make sure that all of this time is being well planned and well led. One option is to consider utilising the full government scholarships for the reformed National Professional Qualifications – but be aware, government funding will only be available in the 2022/23 and 2023/24 academic years (DfE, 2022). Options include (see further information for links):

  • The NPQ in Leading Teacher Development, a specialist qualification that focuses on building skills in mentoring, coaching and strategic leadership, particularly useful for those who mentor in ITT and the Early Career Framework, but also a good stepping-stone for whole-school strategic leadership.
  • The NPQ in Leading Teaching, a specialist qualification for subject or curriculum leaders that includes a focus on leading team-based professional development discussions and building quality, and its even more specialist counterpart the NPQ in Leading Literacy – great for improving the quality of in-house CPD in this important area.
  • The NPQs in Senior Leadership, Early Years Leadership, and Headship, each now have a much greater focus on leading professional development, leading change, and leading implementation.

2, Benchmarking

Invest in support for a thorough review and benchmarking of how effective your current CPD is compared to (a) other schools and (b) best practice. You could consider light-touch options like the Teacher Working Environment Survey or a more comprehensive review with follow up coaching such as the TDT Diagnostic Review (2022).

3, Coaching

Invest in headship with coaching, perhaps using coaching sessions to look at how you can most effectively create the right culture, conditions and processes that ensure staff are going to improve. It is remarkable how few heads know that they are eligible for free, government-funded coaching (the Early Headship Coaching Offer) as long as they have previously completed, or are currently completing, an NPQH, and they have been in post no more than five years.

4, Specialist CPD leadership qualification

Consider a specialist qualification in CPD leadership for yourself, a key senior leader or perhaps someone aspiring to the position, in order to do some succession planning. Examples include the TDT Associate Qualification in CPD Leadership which offers a practical in-school project to evaluate your current CPD provision and put a plan in place to improve it, based on research evidence.

5, Apprenticeship Levy

Consider how you can use the Apprenticeship Levy (see ESFA, 2018) to access training for support staff, teachers, and leaders. The fantastic Skills for Schools website from Unison lists a huge number of qualifications and support options for every non-teacher role in your school.

6, Working together

Consider how you can generate efficiencies from working as a cluster or trust of schools by sharing courses and opportunities across multiple settings – more details in my recent blog (Weston, 2022).

7, In-house development investment

Invest in the quality of in-house development by improving staff capacity and capability for pedagogical (or instructional) coaching and in research-informed teacher research/collaborative enquiry (see further information). This can ensure that each hour spent in development is more likely to have an impact on standards, morale and retention.


All of these options individually are not enough to make all of the difference, but each, if planned and supported appropriately, will contribute to enabling a culture of more teachers and leaders working truly collaboratively – confidently and constructively challenging and improving approaches to teaching and learning.

Impact and learning from any one of these strands can be maximised when a strategic focus on leadership, culture and well-planned CPD come together.

Teacher Development Trust Resources


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