Sheffield Hallam delivered project helps support teachers’ development

Two-thirds of teachers taking part in a Sheffield Hallam University delivered pilot project aimed at supporting their continued development say it has helped improve their knowledge and made them more effective. 

Commissioned by Wellcome, the three-year pilot study, which started in September 2018, is running in 40 schools across South Yorkshire and Derbyshire – including primary, secondary and special schools in the region.

The project is being delivered by academics in the University’s Sheffield Institute of Education (SIoE) in partnership with Learn Sheffield and is being independently evaluated by CFE Research.

The aim of the ‘Wellcome CPD Challenge’ is to understand what changes need to take place for schools to meet set criteria related to the quality and quantity of teacher continuing professional development (CPD) – learning new knowledge, skills and practices throughout their career.

An interim report of the initial findings from the three-year project has just been published by Wellcome.


Initial findings include staff reporting improvements in their confidence and leadership skills. Staff also described how the changes they have made following the CPD have had an impact on pupil attainment (59%), pupil behaviour (44%) and pupil attendance (19%).

On average, the amount of CPD undertaken by staff has increased from 39 to 52 hours per year with the time spent on subject specific CPD increasing from 22 to 31 hours.

Each school taking part in the CPD Challenge had to commit to every teacher participating in at least 35 hours of CPD annually; CPD meets the needs of the individual teacher and is predominantly focused on subject-specific development; and CPD is high quality and aligns to the Department for Education’s standard for teachers’ professional development.

Academics from SIoE work with a ‘Challenge Champion’ at each of the schools and act as an external facilitator to support the Champions and school leaders to embed CPD across the school.

Dr Emily Perry, who is leading the project for Sheffield Hallam, said: “In England there is currently no requirement for teachers to participate in career-long professional development, despite evidence of its significant benefits.

“During the first half of the project we have noticed the significant impact it is having in schools and the interim results speak for themselves.

“Ultimately, we see this helping to influence policy to ensure nationally teachers have access high quality professional development which will benefit them as practitioners and the children they teach.”

The project runs until July 2021.

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