‘For a profession so dedicated to learning, teachers seem to take little care of their own learning’ (Coe, 2013).
In 2014, the Department for Education published a consultation, ‘A world-class teaching profession’. It stated that ‘it is vital that serving teachers have access to on-going, high-quality opportunities to update and refresh their skills and knowledge’ and that ‘evidence-driven, career-long learning is the hallmark of top professions’; also identifying that ‘teachers report that far too much professional development is currently of poor quality and has little or no impact on improving the quality of their teaching’ (Department for Education, 2014: 10).
In this literature review, I will consider what characterises effective professional development according to research, and the leadership models, strategies and actions that are required. Whilst the current focus on professional development has heightened awareness, it is not a new field. In order to locate this research in current thinking and practices, a focus will be placed on more recent work.
Research and current thinking on effective professional development
There are a number of elements that frequently feature in the literature about effective professional development. It is important to note that professional development is a ‘complex process, which requires cognitive and emotional involvement of teachers individually and collectively’ (Avalos, 2011: 10) and whilst most professionals would instinctively tell you what they feel is effective (Cordingley, 2015) this review is also interested in attempts to find causal relationships. Here, that complexity has been addressed by broadly grouping features regularly discussed in research into five categories for consideration which will serve as a vehicle for analysis.
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