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Education and outreach

IOP hosts subject CPD summit chaired by Professor Sir John Holman

23 January 2020

Experts discussed how a targeted approach to professional learning could tackle longstanding issues such as teacher retention.

Professor Sir John Holman

The Institute of Physics (IOP) hosted a workshop and roundtable event focusing on subject-specific continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers.

Introduced by IOP group CEO, Paul Hardaker, the discussions focused on the importance of high-quality teaching and the need to develop a culture in which good professional CPD is not only available, but is also in demand.

With broad consensus now that student learning outcomes are very dependent on teaching quality and a body of evidence suggesting that programmes of professional learning can improve teaching effectiveness, the day’s activities revolved around the idea that the provision of high-quality, subject-specific CPD could provide a pool of world-class, fulfilled teachers, formed through engagement with the very best ongoing support and development.

Chair for the day was Professor Sir John Holman, senior adviser in education at the Wellcome Trust and the Gatsby Foundation, and chair of the Teacher Development Trust, who was knighted in 2010 for services to education.

Presenting his paper The Case for Subject-Specific CPD, invited guest speaker, Professor Robert Coe, described how teachers themselves should also participate in continued professional learning as they provide learning to others. He explained the need for a framework for teacher learning that includes ideas about sequencing, topic-specific content and teaching techniques.

Perhaps best known to teachers as one of the co-authors of the Education Endowment Foundation's Teaching and Learning Toolkit and its DIY Evaluation Guide for teachers, Professor Coe was recently director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University and is now a director at Evidence Based Education.

As director of the CEM, he has worked with the Cabinet Office, and has been involved in a range of international research collaborations. He also works as an adviser to various organisations including Teach First, the Department for Education and Ofqual.

The invited participants, including representatives from a range of subject associations including science and beyond, discussed how current problems – including the retention of teachers – might be solved by the provision of system-wide, high-quality, subject-specific CPD and considered how the evidence to support these ideas might be strengthened.

How such CPD might be introduced was also deliberated, along with the features that such a system might necessarily include.

Recurrent themes, in a day of lively debate and discussion, were the provision of funding and the need to develop and nurture a culture which not only embraces, but also demands and values, such ongoing learning for teaching professionals.