The secrets to making remote CPD effective

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Remote CPD can be effective as long as schools ensure the content is interactive and promotes collaboration between teachers, a research review suggests.

A focus on coaching and mentoring can also be effective when delivered remotely, the research review finds, while giving teachers protected time to undertake CPD is just as important with remote approaches.

The review was published by the Education Endowment Foundation last month and has been produced in partnership with Durham University. It examined existing research from 17 systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the effectiveness of remote CPD.

The report urges schools not to suspend their CPD programmes until face-to-face training becomes possible again, but to embrace remote or blended approaches.

It highlights that coaching and mentoring approaches “can improve skills and knowledge of professionals when delivered remotely and may reduce feelings of isolation in professionals”.

The report adds: “Remote or blended coaching, mentoring and expert support can be used to complement broader remote or blended CPD programmes.

“Coaching, mentoring and expert support are likely to be a feature of school-based CPD and can be delivered remotely or partially remotely. Remote coaching and mentoring may enable school leaders to provide coaches or mentors who sit outside of the staff member’s performance management processes.”

Elsewhere, interactive content improves engagement with CPD, the review finds, and collaborative approaches should also be a priority. Schools might consider blended CPD approaches where teachers attend remote CPD and then work with colleagues in school.

The report adds: “Collaboration between colleagues may also improve CPD outcomes through enabling reflective practice and collective problem-solving. For example, CPD providers may include peer small-group discussion sessions following completion of individual tasks.”

The review says that school leaders can support staff by:

  • Creating protected time within the working day for staff to engage with sessions or learning materials.
  • Setting clear objectives for professional development sessions.
  • Clarifying roles and expectations.
  • Ensuring access to the technology required for sessions and appropriate training.

The review adds that a blended approach to professional development sessions can help to “establish a sense of cohesion amongst staff members”.

The EEF states: “Combining remote professional development sessions with coaching from colleagues can help to mitigate feelings of isolation that might result from limited social contact with other adults at school due to social distancing.”

Professor Becky Francis, CEO of the EEF, said:This academic year, delivering effective training to staff members will require extra thought to ensure that it remains a meaningful use of teachers’ time and complies with the social distancing guidelines that are in place to keep them safe.

“As our review shows, remote professional development sessions are not only effective means of improving pupil outcomes, but they also ensure that a sense of community and support endures amongst staff members in these unprecedented times.”

  • Education Endowment Foundation: Remote professional development: Rapid evidence assessment, August 2020:

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