Standards for Teachers’ Professional Development

Yesterday the much awaited new CPD standards were released by the Department for Education. The standards have come about through the work of the Teachers’ Professional Development Expert group (TPDEG) and are based on research and feedback from the education community. Since my PhD focuses on CPD in the UK, I have been waiting expectantly for the release of the standards as they will be a very interesting addition to my thesis work – and they do not disappoint.

Firstly, it is good to see the standards acknowledge that:

‘The design of high-quality professional development is as complex a discipline as the design of high-quality teaching.’

(DfE 2016, p.1)

Indeed through the reading I have carried out for my PhD, it has become increasingly clear that professional development is a complex process. There is much in the way of literature that seeks to identify what makes ‘effective CPD’, though no one perfect recipe has been found. Those programmes that have been successful often share similar characteristics, but the individual context of the school and staff involved appears to have a significant impact. This is nicely summarised by Avalos who notes that ‘not every form of professional development, even those with the greatest evidence of positive impact, is of itself relevant to all teachers’ (2011, p.10). Local schools context and individual needs play an important role.

The Standards

The strength of the standards is their simplicity and precision, they are presented as four statements:

1. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.

2. Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.

3. Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.

4. Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.

Underpinned by the requirement that:

5. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

The documentation identifies professional development as a relationship between Leadership, Teachers and Providers of CPD. This links with Opfer and Pedder’s (2011)  identification of the 3 key systems involved in professional learning: the individual, the school and the activity. Leadership, Teachers and Providers can be seen as the agents of these three key systems and so the relationship, and more importantly the communication, between these groups is critical to ensuring that CPD supports positive, lasting change.

Moving forward with the new standards

Whilst the standards are clear and concise, but still offer room for schools to implement within the context of their own needs, there are areas that the education community now needs to focus on to support schools in making effective use of these standards.

Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes

In order to ensure that CPD is having an impact on pupil outcomes, professional development programmes need to be designed with impact in mind – evaluation cannot be effective if it is considered only at the end of a programme. Therefore, effective CPD needs to consider the intended outcome for pupils within the design stage of the programme and to work out how this can best be measured. Schools need to be supported in developing their evaluation of CPD and how it is built into the design of a larger professional learning strategy for the school. Bridget Clay (2016), Programme Manager at the Teacher Development Trust, suggests using Guskey’s (2000) 5 levels of professional development evaluation (see below). Advice and guidance such as this is a good first step, but what schools need now is practical guidance on how to build this kind of evaluation into their CPD.

Evaluation Level What is measured? How will the information be used?
Participant Reaction Initial satisfaction with experience To improve programme design and delivery
Participant Learning New knowledge and skills of participants To improve programme content, format and organisation.
Organisation support and challenge The organisation’s support, accommodation, facilitation etc. To document and improve organisational support

To inform future change efforts

Participants’ use of new knowledge and skills Degree and quality of implementation To document and improve the implementation of programme content.
Students’ learning outcomes Student learning outcomes (performance and attainment, attitudes, skills and behaviour) To focus and improve all aspects of programme design, implementation and follow up.

To demonstration the overall impact of professional development.

Taken from Bridget’s presentation at the TDT Conference in April

Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise

In the last few years, research-based professional development and learning has seen a boost in recognition through teacher-led organisations such as ResearchEd and academic work such as the BERA-RSA Inquiry into Research and Teacher Education. I have spoken to a number of school staff during my time as a research associate and now as I work on my thesis, and I am often told that staff are uncertain as to where to look in the vast sea that is the internet for information that will be relevant to their specific needs – this seems particularly true for staff in SEN schools who may have very specific learner needs. Finding information and resources tailored to their pupils can be very hard, and time consuming. Furthermore, as a PhD student, I know all too well how hard it can be to find research that is relevant to your needs – where to look? how to access? how to comb through the overwhelming mass of other information? etc. Combining these two issues shows that more needs to be done to make high quality educational research easily accessible to school staff. Sites like ResearchEd and MESH Guides go part of the way towards this, but these are still relatively small pockets of work and a larger effort needs to be made.

Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge

The research around characteristics of effective professional development and learning often highlights collaboration as one of the key elements. However, whilst teachers value opportunities to work with other educators and learn from one another, it has also been highlighted that in some instances, collaboration can encourage conformity and stifle innovation showing that, as with many of the characteristics of effective CPD, it comes with a caveat. Guskey (2003, p.11) notes that in order for collaboration to be effective, it ‘needs to be structured and purposeful, with efforts guided by clear goals for improving student learning’. This shows that supporting schools in designing professional development programmes that make effective use of collaboration within sessions is key to ensuring the success of professional learning.

Professional development programmes should be sustained over time

As with collaboration, the research shows that simply running a longer professional development programme will not guarantee effective learning, Cordingley et al. found that ‘the crucial factor differentiating more from less successful programmes is what the time was used for’ (2015, p.4). This again calls for more support around the design of CPD programmes. Studies show that CPD lasting approximately 16 weeks (two UK school terms or one US semester) is often more effective, provided that it includes adequate contact time (at least 20 hours) and opportunities for follow-up (Desimone 2009). A common theme within the focus groups and interviews I have been conducting with school staff around their experiences of CPD has been the desire for more drip-feeding and follow up. Staff have expressed a need for CPD that gives them information and experience relating to a new practice in bitesize chunks, with time in between to test them out within their daily teaching, to then reconvene and discuss the process before learning more.

Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership

During my PhD data collection, staff have noted a preference for having a clear vision for whole school development that they can then build upon with their personal CPD. It is felt that this would provide them with a clearer idea of where they should be developing their professional practices – to make CPD a more coordinated effort across the school. This anecdote is widely supported by the lierature. Hunzicker’s (2010) claims that when the needs of the individual are combined with the needs of the school, teacher commitment and motivation is strengthened. Likewise, in a review of CPD in ICT, conducted by BECTA in 2009, it was found that whilst external agencies may provide models of CPD for school staff, their success depended heavily on the extent to which the school supported the activities. In particular, backing by leadership was found to be one of the key factors to ensuring the success of CPD programmes (Daly et al. 2009) which is in keeping with Billett’s (2001) work, which highlights the importance of the workplace affording staff opportunities to engage in development. For this reason, I strongly support the TPDEG’s recommendation that:

‘All those delivering and accrediting headteacher and school leadership training should make the leadership of teacher development, based on this Standard, a top priority.’

(TPDEG 2016, p.2)

In conclusion, what the standards suggest to me is that there is an opportunity here, for academics and professionals within education to work alongside schools and teachers to support them in filling the gaps and designing and delivering effective CPD across England. Also, in helping to share more widely examples of existing best practice, to make them easier to access. It is also interesting to consider where less formal, teacher-led CPD, such as TeachMeets, fit within these standards (termed Indirect Professional Development in the standards guidance). I believe that TeachMeets are an important format of CPD, as staff have regularly told me that they prefer to try new practices that they know have worked for other teachers – the ‘by staff, for staff’ model is a crucial one and should not be sidelined. What needs to be discussed is how self-directed ‘indirect professional development’ can be situated within a wider, structured plan for CPD.

Avalos, B., (2011) Teacher professional development in Teaching and Teacher Education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, vol.27(1), pp.10–20.

Billett, S. (2001) Learning through work: workplace affordances and individual engagement. Journal of Workplace Learning. Vol.13(5), pp. 209-214.

Clay, B. (2016) Five principles to help you evaluate your CPD. SecEd. Available from:

Cordingley, P. et al., (2015) Developing Great Teaching. Teacher Development Trust: London.

Daly, C., Pachler, N. and Pelletier, C. (2009) Continuing Professional Development in ICT for Teachers. BECTA. WLE Centre, Institute of Education: London.

Department for Education (2016) Standard for teachers’ professional development. London: HMSO.

Desimone, L.M., (2009) Improving Impact Studies of Teachers’ Professional Development: Toward Better Conceptualizations and Measures. Educational Researcher, vol.38(3), pp.181–199.

Guskey, T. (2000) Evaluating Professional  Development. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Hunzicker, J. (2010) Effective Professional Development for Teachers: a checklist. Professional Development in Education, vol.37(2), pp.177-179

Opfer, V.D. and Pedder, D., (2011) Conceptualizing Teacher Professional Learning. Review of Educational Research, vol.81(3), pp.376–407.

Teachers’ Professional  Development Expert Group (2016) Teachers’ Professional Development Expert Group – The Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development. London: HMSO.


10 Great Apps for Teaching and Learning

Innovation funding supports school led projects that focus on the use of technology to benefit learning and learners, teaching and school community development. Several projects investigating the use of iPads in different learning situations are currently being funded through Leicester City Council’s BSF schools Innovation Fund.   These include:

All of the schools have thought carefully about how they will share their findings and  outputs – we will be providing information and resources, as openly licensed resources, from all projects here.

At the end of the last school year, a parents evening was held at The City of Leicester College, where they are piloting a BYOD project using iPad Minis. The tutor group involved in the pilot were chosen through a competitive bidding process, organised by the school. The purpose of the evening was to  introduce the group’s parents and carers to the project, and to the ways in which the devices could be used to enhance learning and teaching.

I was asked to attend the session and give a presentation about how some of the free apps available on the iPad can be used to support teaching and learning. Below is a summary of my presentation.

iBooks IconiBooks

iBooks is Apple’s e-reading application – many of the classics are available for free and if teachers create their own eBooks (using iBooks Author or another ebook creation tool) they can also be stored and read by the iBooks app.

What is useful about the iBooks app, is it’s annotation facility – you can highlight, underline, add notes and even look words up in the dictionary from within the app.

In the classroom, this could be used to highlight key passages (e.g. introductions to main characters, or descriptions of places/characters), to identify particular types of words (e.g. verbs, adverbs, nouns) or even to add extra information to the text (e.g. facts about the author or story).

At home, learners can use the app to make revision notes on top of the text – and they’re not restricted to fictional texts, subject text books are also available through the apple store (though often at a cost).

popplet iconPopplet Lite

Popplet Lite is a mind-mapping tool which allows the user to add text, images and free drawings. This is the free version of an existing app, so has its limitations, but for simple planning or reflection activities I have found the free version to be sufficient. The biggest draw back is that you cannot save your Popplet maps – although I tend to take a screenshot to get around this.

Popplet could be used in any lesson to explore a topic, for example a book or a famous figure. It could be used to gather thoughts around a project, say a group presentation. I have used Popplet with younger learners to help them to reflect on their progress – I took photographs of their handwriting work over the course of the year and let them annotate it with their own thoughts – it worked really well and we printed off their popplets at the end of the session; one copy for their school record and one to take home.

evernote iconEvernote Apps

The Evernote family of apps all focus on helping you to organise useful sites, documents and ideas. I looked at four of the Evernote apps in this presentation. Evernote, an app that stores ‘notes’ (documents, links, memos) and allows you to sort them using tags. Skitch, an app that lets you annotate webpages, maps, images and PDFs. Penultimate, a virtual notebook. Peek, a revision app which utilises the iPad Smart Cover – allowing users to test themselves on pre-made or self-created content.

The Evernote suite are great apps for supporting students in managing their own learning. Evernote offers users the ability to store useful resources, for example websites linked to class work topics. Skitch allows users to annotate images – great for making visual revision notes (such as notes on anatomy or a musical score). Penultimate is a great way to take notes and jot down ideas that can then be accessed anywhere – with Evernote you can log in to your account from any computer, so students can get their class notes from anywhere. Peek helps learners to test themselves, in preparation for quizzes and exams, with predefined content or even tests they (or teachers) create themselves.

pocket iconPocket

If you find something online, that you’d like to look at later, maybe a webpage or an article – put it in your pocket. You can access your Pocket account from any device, meaning that you can choose when its best for you to come back to the things you’ve saved.

This app is my personal life saver – I am something of procrastinator and I often find myself looking at information and resources that aren’t linked to work I’m trying to complete at the time. With Pocket, I can save these webpages or documents and return to them later at a better time. Students and teachers could use Pocket to collect useful resources and even share them with one another via Twitter, Facebook or Email.

socrative iconSocrative

Socrative is a tool which is used by teachers and learners. The teacher sets up a short quiz, and using a room number, students can then access and take the quiz.

Socrative is a great formative assessment tool – perfect for a quick plenary at the end of a lesson. The teacher can set up an account quickly and tests are simple to create and students only need a room number to take the quiz – so no setting up learner accounts. The app also collects data on student answers – helping teachers to assess how well a class has understood a new topic, for example.

nearpod iconNearpod

Add some pizzazz to your presentations with Nearpod. You can upload existing presentations (as PDFs) or create a new one and add interactive elements, such as videos, activities and quizzes.

Nearpod is a great way to jazz up old (or create new) interactive presentations. There are four elements to the nearpod system:

Content Tool – where the teacher creates the presentation.

Nearpod Teacher – the app which allows the teacher to control the presentation in the classroom.

Nearpod Student – the app that learners see when interacting with the presentation.

Reporting Tool – where the teacher analyses responses to the interactive elements of the presentation and can monitor classroom activity.


dictionary iconReference Apps

With the iPad you need never worry about other resources being available again – and learners don’t need to carry lots of extras to school with them. There are many reference apps available – for the purpose of this presentation I tried to keep it fairly generic, looking at the following forms of reference: Dictionary, Calculator, Period Table, Translation, Atlas.

I wanted to pull together some examples of reference apps on the iPad to show how it can become a reference source in itself. With access to dictionaries, encyclopedias, translation tools and more – students no longer need worry about remembering to pack other reference resources. Also, for the teacher, the reliance on availability of certain tools is no longer a problem if students have access to reference apps on their iPad.

myhomework iconMyHomework

An electronic homework planner, MyHomework helps students to keep their timetable and all their homework organised in one place. Teachers can also create content at and this can then be accessed from the learner’s device – signing them up to classes.

The MyHomework app is another great example of how the iPad can be used to support students in taking control of their learning. Students can input their timetable into the app and then add homework as it arises. The handy homework menu shows users what is due soon, what is late and what has already been completed. Using, staff can create the content for learners and then share it using the MyHomework app.

jot iconJot! Whiteboard

Turn your iPad into a mini whiteboard with Jot! Draw, add text and show others your whiteboard using ‘Live Sharing’.


There are lots of apps available which allow learners to turn their iPad into a mini whiteboard – but I chose this one because the instructions are well communicated and its really easy to get started. Also, using ‘Live Sharing’ learners can allow others to view their board – perhaps to demonstrate an idea or if the teacher would like to use their work as an example.

photoshop iconPhotoshop Express

The iPad’s camera is often used in the classroom to capture and demonstrate learning. With Photoshop Express, you can edit your pictures before adding them to presentations or records of work.

Finally, I wanted to include an app for photo editing. My own experience with the iPad Mini has taught me that it’s camera isn’t the best – at least not compared to other devices that I own – mainly because it has no flash. With Photoshop Express, simple effects can be added to improve the brightness and contrast – even to add further effects such as borders and distortions.

The purpose of the presentation, and with it this post, was to demonstrate the potential of some of the free apps available on the iPad. I chose to look at general educational support, rather than subject specific apps, but there are many great apps out there for particular subject areas.

Interested in using apps in the classroom? Why not get your students to suggest some as a homework activity – ask them to research apps that could support your subject and write a proposal, including justification for why it would be effective. It’s a great way to broaden your awareness of some of the apps out there!

Electronic Books Workshop

paper bookPaper Book – Planning our iBooks

Last Wednesday, we held our second Learning and Innovation Group workshop. The Learning and Innovation group is the BSF ICT group that looks at the practical uses of technology to support creative, engaging and effective learning, teaching and school community development. The sessions follow a train-a-trainer approach, holding high quality workshops for staff who can then disseminate skills and information across their schools.

Following the success of our Developing Enquiry using iPads workshop, we invited Steve Bunce, Apple Distinguished Educator and experienced training provider, back to introduce us to a new topic – Electronic Books. The workshop was held in one of De Montfort University’s Mac suites.

The workshop was a great opportunity for school staff to experiment with some new tools, with Steve’s expertise on hand to guide them through the day. We discussed scenarios in which the applications covered could be used to support teaching and learning. The session attracted a great mix of staff from 8 Leicester secondary schools, including technical, teaching and Learning Resource Centre staff.

We began the session by making folded Paper Books – using Story Cubes for inspiration, we created our own short stories and planned them out on simple folded paper booklets (see image above). Steve highlighted how this could be used to help learners prepare and plan out their work before moving on to the real thing – like a story board. This draft was then used to structure our work with Book Creator iPad app.

The Book Creator App is a simple app for creating iBooks from an iPad – it is easy to use and has fairly basic features, making it beginner friendly and a great way to introduce the concept of creating your own iBook. We had a number of first time iPad users in the session and they found the application easy to use. You can add photos, text or sound and then adjust these, using the ‘Inspector’ feature, to get your desired effect. It was noted that the addition of sound could be used for learners who are less confident in their written skills, or who have a language barrier.

Staff discussed how this could be used in a classroom context and felt that it would be an interesting way for learners to summarise a topic of work – to present their learning to others.

book creator screenshotBook Creator – iBook Output

After exporting our creations to iBooks – Steve covered some of the in-built features of the iBooks application and looked at how these might support teaching and learning. For example:

  • Text can be highlighted – offering opportunities for analysis of a passage of writing (highlighting verbs, nouns, adjectives in different colours)
  • Notes can be added – which could be used for revision, adding explanations in their own words, etc.
  • In-built dictionary – can be used to look up unfamiliar words, this also means that learners are not pulled away from the text to do this.

iBooks featuresiBooks Features

Just before lunch, Steve gave an introduction to the iBooks Author program – showing us how to set up new chapters, sections and pages. After lunch, we began working through the different features of the program, from image manipulation to interactive features such as quizzes and slideshows. It was useful to have an opportunity to play with all the different features available, to really test drive the program and look what opportunities it affords.

Feedback following the workshop was very positive – attendees felt that the session was informative and well pitched and that it offered many ideas for use in the classroom.


Developing enquiry using iPads

Something Red – Image from our photo Scavenger Hunt

Last Friday, Leicester City Council held their first Learning and Innovation Group workshop. The Learning and Innovation group is the BSF ICT group that looks at the practical uses of technology to support creative, engaging and effective learning, teaching and school community development. Meetings will mainly take a train-a-trainer approach, holding high quality, free workshops for staff who can then disseminate the skills and information across their schools.

The workshop was led by Steve Bunce, an Apple Distinguished Educator and experienced training provider. The Developing Enquiry workshop is currently being run as part of Futurelab and NFER’s CPD workshops. We held the event at Phoenix Square, Leicester.

The workshop provided opportunities for school staff to experiment with a range of iPad apps and resources within the context of enquiry-based learning. This particular workshop was chosen due it’s links to other projects involving the BSF team, for example Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes and the Digital Literacy Self-Review Framework being developed by myself, Richard Hall and Josie Fraser.

Steve introduced the group to a variety of applications, for example:

The use of all of these tools were embedded within the theme of enquiry-based learning; Steve provided many examples of how these tools could be used within the classroom. Management issues were also discussed and attendees had plenty of hands on experience. The workshop was organised into three sections, looking at three different styles of enquiry-based learning;

Those attending felt the day had been very positive, stating that  the workshop was more practical than they had expected, making it easier to relay information back to the school. They felt that working with a theme helped to contextualise the use of the applications, helping the staff to see themselves actually using the technology within the classroom. It was mentioned that it may be useful to return to this topic in a few months, to see how the workshop affected practice; the Council also feels that would be beneficial for those attending and also for the BSF team to evaluate the value of the workshop.

List of apps used within the workshop – PDF

Aurasma Tutorials

They’re finally finished! I’ve had a couple of technical issues during the preparation of these resources but can now proudly announce that they are ready to use.

There are two strands of videos, one computer based and one device based – you can find links to all of the tutorials on my resources page.

I would advise that you watch the first tutorial video before signing up to the Aurasma Studio.

There are advantages to using both methods:



Allows bulk uploads of trigger images and overlay content

Has built in animations not available in the studio

Allows ‘masking’ of images (marking areas of the trigger image that you do not want to be recognised)

Makes uploading content taken on the device faster and simpler

Allows ‘Location Auras’ (Auras which only work in a particular place) to be created without being at the destination

Allows ‘Location Auras’ to be created on the spot

With both the studio and the app, overlay content can be resized, moved and rotated. It’s really down to what you find easiest – mouse clicks or gestures.

It really is down to the task at hand and your own personal preferences. I find that I use both, and through the use of channels I can still access the final Auras (this is the name given to the Augmented Reality in action) that I create on the studio through my phone’s app.

1. Using the computer-based Aurasma Studio to create your content (this is a collection of four tutorial videos)

2. Using the device-based Aurasma App (for Apple and Android) to create your content (this is one tutorial video)