London Metropolitan University Research Institutes


Scoping Manageable and Strategic Approaches to Access to and Participation in CPD by Supply Teachers

Funded by:

General Teaching Council for England.


October 2008- January 2009


The GTC have an ongoing concern with teachers’ continuing professional development. IN order to reduce variability in the school system, an in pupil attainment, it is recognised that approaches to CPD need to be more systematic and systemic. However, the GTC’s annual surveys of teachers in 2006 and 2007 showed that supply teachers were the least satisfied (of all the groups) with their professional development provision, and reported a substantial level of unmet need.

In 2000 Supply Teachers: Meeting the Challenge, invited comment on government proposals to better equip supply teachers with the skills and training needed to support pupils’ learning and maintain school standards. Consequently, measures were put in place to ensure that supply teachers have access to on-line packages of learning materials and assurances (under the Quality Mark) that agencies must support supply teachers’ professional development needs in a variety of ways. Further, in 2002 the DfES issued guidance to schools which provided examples of good practice in relations to school policies on using and supporting supply teachers. Since this policy driven activity in the early 2000s little appears to have happened. Previous research by IPSE (Hutchings et al. 2006) indicates that there is no evidence that supply teachers are being supported in maintaining portfolios of professional development, nor evidence of coordinated framework of responsibilities of CPD of supply teachers at school, LEA or national level. The professional development needs of supply teachers remains a concern. This research has been commissioned to by the GTC to identify manageable and strategic approaches to support access and participation in effective and sustained CPD for ALL supply teachers.

The aims of this research are:

a) to update existing research about supply teachers

b) to update previous research findings about NQTs and early career teachers, and about overseas trained teachers

c) to identify contexts in which supply teachers are engaging with CPD and to identify a) the factors that are enabling this to happen; b) the factors that are preventing such activity from taking place on a wider scale; and c) the actions that need to take place to enable such activities to take place on a wider scale

d) to investigate the perceptions and practices of school leaders in relation to supply teacher CPD

e) to investigate supply teachers’ perceptions of their current professional development activity, the opportunities available to them and ways in which provision could be developed to meet their needs more effectively (including how this is similar to or different from that of mainstream teachers)

f) to bring together perceptions from various stakeholders (including school leaders, agency staff, local authorities and policy makers)

The research involves a literature review, interviews and observation. Interviews will be carried out with a range of key stakeholders to gather a strategic overview of the issues that exist in respect of extending CPD to supply teachers. These interviews will then be followed by case study visits to providers of CPD. Providers of CPD include supply teacher agencies, LEAs, and schools. A series of interviews with CPD providers, school leaders and supply teachers will be undertaken so that a range of perceptions about the professional development of supply teachers can be considered. Attention will drawn to the issue of precisely where the responsibility lies for assessing need and subsequently extending CPD activity to supply teachers.


Project team:

Merryn Hutchings (Project Director)

Jayne Osgood (Project Manager)

Kim Allen

Katya Williams

Uvanney Maylor



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