New government standards for teachers’ professional development are long overdue


Denise Inwood, managing director, BlueSky

Former senior school leader Denise Inwood is Managing Director of BlueSky, creators of BlueSky Education, the leading online staff development, professional learning and self-evaluation software for schools.  She set up her business precisely to help schools improve by raising teaching standards and therefore welcomes the recent DfE guidance on standards for teachers’ professional development.  


The government has published its first ever set of teacher professional development standards – a move I welcome wholeheartedly as better late than never.

With problems around teacher retention high on the agenda at the moment, I’m hoping this new focus on effective professional development will go some way towards stemming the flow of teachers leaving the profession. According to the latest figures from the National Audit Office, the numbers of teachers leaving the profession have increased by 11 per cent during the past three years. The proportion of those who chose to leave the profession ahead of retirement has also increased from 64 per cent to 75 per cent.

These standards make plain the importance and status of professional learning to expert and effective teaching.

The new ‘Standard for teachers’ professional development’ published by the Department for Education, set out a clear description of effective practice in professional development for teachers and were published following recommendations from an expert panel.

I believe that the energy and dynamism of young people requires that teachers constantly review and modify their approach, not only on an annual basis, but also day by day and lesson by lesson. The development of reflective practice is learned at the outset of Initial Teacher Training, but it’s a skill set that needs to be honed and refined throughout teachers’ careers.

These new standards are designed to engage and encourage school leaders to prioritise support for high quality professional development throughout their organisations.

In my opinion, one of the greatest delights of being a professional in the education sector is the constant requirement to reflect, adapt and develop skills and knowledge. If we get this right, every school will be able to provide the professional learning opportunities for staff that will help them flourish and their pupils and students to succeed.

It is to be hoped that the new standards change the dynamics of professional development so that teachers have ready access to the evidence and expertise they need to further their careers and perhaps stay in the profession for longer. Let’s hope for a new era where teachers’ career development is better supported so that we can reduce the numbers leaving our great profession.