Guest post: Reflections on our Leading Learning training course

In our work as one of the EEF’s Research School Developers, we work closely with Norwich Research School at Notre Dame High School. In this guest blog post, Norwich RS’s Roger Higgins reflects on their Leading Learning training course, focusing on improving both the design and the delivery of teacher CPD.



On Thursday last week senior leaders from around Norfolk joined us at the Norwich Research School to discuss how we can improve the design and delivery of teacher Continued Professional Development (CPD).

The three-day training course was originally developed by Huntington Research School and has proved popular in several areas of the country, illustrating the benefit of having a network of Research Schools. Despite receiving excellent course materials and resources from Huntington, in preparing to deliver Leading Learning we spent time learning about the specific challenges relating to CPD in the local area, particularly for Primary schools in Norwich, and as a result produced new content, some of which is shared in this article.


Day 1 outline

Day 1 of the course aimed to ‘envision what exemplary CPD might look like, and evaluate the status quo’. Our CEO Brian Conway galvanised delegates by highlighting research which suggests that leaders can have most impact on pupil attainment by focusing on teacher learning and development:

Notre Dame High School

Tom Pinnington then led delegates to develop a vision for ‘perfect CPD’ in their schools, before leading an exploration of the journey of the UK education system towards becoming evidence-informed when designing teacher CPD, including:

Delegates then worked together to develop their understanding of the EEF / Sutton Trust Toolkit, which led to prioritisation of CPD content for next academic year. The discussions between locals at this stage were rich and identified Metacognition as a common priority, which will be now be explored in more detail on Day two.

Our survey of delegates prior to Day 1 told us that all used third-party providers to varying degrees, and we explored a related framework for decision making. We subsequently explored the EEF Toolkit in more detail, looking at an example evaluation report as another means to aid decision-making on CPD.

I then led delegates to deepen their understanding of the DfE’s Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development. Delegates were already aware of the Standard itself, but less so the related implementation guidance.

Having unpicked this very helpful document in small groups, delegates used another bespoke tool to evaluate CPD case studies from both Secondary and Primary phase schools, focusing on their own school’s phase. We are very grateful to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School for providing their own CPD model as a case study, which really made the day for delegates from a wide range of phases (Primary, Secondary and Alternative provision).

The bulk of the afternoon was devoted to delegates reflecting on the theory, and then using the tools provided in order to evaluate their own CPD ‘status quo’, refine their visions for CPD and identify strategies for realising these. The delegates had formed a trusting, sharing relationship with one another by this stage thanks to the morning group work, such that a final sharing activity saw excellent feedback and food for thought prior to returning to their schools to get buy-in for their plans.

As with all of our course, feedback from delegates will now help shape the following sessions, such that detailed plans with the buy-in of teachers will result in better teacher CPD from September, and better outcomes for pupils.



Cordingley, Higgins, Coe et al, (2016) Developing Great Teaching – Lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development. TDT

DfE (2016), Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development

DfE (2016) Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development: Implementation guidance for school leaders

Goldacre (2013) Building Evidence into Education. Department for Education

Robinson, Hohepa, Lloyd (2009) School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why – Best Evidence Synthesis. University of Auckland: NZ Ministry of Education

Vignoles, Jerri, Cowan (2015) Mathematics Mastery Primary Evaluation Report. EEF

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