Professional development at St Aidan’s school: perspectives on the Great Teaching Toolkit

Anne-Marie Whitten, the Great Teaching Toolkit coordinator at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, spoke to us about how they are implementing the Great Teaching Toolkit into their professional development plan.

St Aidan’s has approximately 850 boys on roll, aged 11-18, and started using the Great Teaching Toolkit when the Bishop Chadwick Trust they belong to subscribed to the GTT for all of its secondary schools. At St Aidan’s, they were already using the Great Teaching Toolkit: Evidence Review as part of professional learning discussions, and beginning to recognise the potential of the common language it offered teachers and leaders.

Anne-Marie spoke about how the Great Teaching Toolkit fits well with the ethos around professional development at St Aidan’s:


We don’t spend hours in generic whole-school CPD, it’s all about tailoring CPD to our staff. We were looking for resources which would be tailored to their needs – the GTT is perfect for that.

It’s also the quality assurance that stands out for us. Anyone can go online and find something on professional development. That doesn’t mean it’s any good, that doesn’t mean it’s based on research.”


At St Aidan’s, staff are given autonomy over their professional learning, in the knowledge that this promotes a greater sense of intrinsic motivation and buy-in. The Great Teaching Toolkit complements a well-embedded knowledge building cycle, in which teachers are supported through a coaching programme to identify a point of practice to develop. Teachers can make use of the student surveys available in the Toolkit to get some insight into their students’ experience of learning in their classroom and use these as part of coaching discussions. They also have access to the Great Teaching Toolkit courses, aligned to the student surveys, once they have identified the area of professional development they want to work on.

Retrieval practice starter tasks, or the use of multiple choice questions to identify misconceptions in assessments are already part of whole-school teaching and learning policies at St Aidan’s. Anne-Marie observed how engagement with the Great Teaching Toolkit has helped teachers to better understand the why that sits behind what they implement in lessons. Anne-Marie went on to say that this has helped teachers at St Aidan’s feel a greater sense of confidence in their practice and become better able to articulate that elusive why. We know how important this is for our learners; it’s just as important for teachers in their professional learning.


Some of our members of staff, who are perhaps less confident in their teaching and learning, are realising they already do many things that are supported by research evidence, and they’re benefitting from this realisation.”


With a Great Teaching Toolkit: Starter Account, you can gain insights into the journey of professional development the toolkit facilitates. A Starter Account is free to use, and also comes with access to sample lessons from all of the Toolkit courses. You can sign-up for a Starter Account here!

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