Dean of Learning Design, Peps Mccrea, shares his thoughts on the Masters in Expert Teaching, discussing its inception, its evidence-informed structure, and how it is influencing other programmes.
Why did you feel it was important to create the Masters in Expert Teaching?
When we spoke to school leaders about what they felt was missing in the professional development landscape, many talked about the need for a sustained programme to help their experienced teachers take their practice to the next level.
Part of this was about ensuring that pupils were getting great teaching, but part of it was also about retaining the best talent. Teachers who have the opportunity to keep getting better not only deliver better outcomes but tend to be happier and stay within their roles for longer.
This was our starting point when designing the Masters. I suspect that when we look back in 50 years, we'll find it absurd that teachers didn't go through programmes like this as standard
What does the Masters look and feel like?
The Masters looks and feels quite different to more traditional courses. Teachers get access to curated reading lists, have 1-2-1 coaching with an expert teacher, and are subject to ongoing assessment to help them to continually improve.
The programme draws on the latest and best available evidence from educational research and cognitive science. It is led by people with expertise in both teaching and teaching education - people like Nick Rose, author of What Every Teacher Needs to Know about Psychology. We've also thought hard about how to best align the programme with the busy lives of teachers.
"I suspect that when we look back in 50 years, we'll find it absurd that teachers didn't go through programmes like this as standard."
How's it going so far?
We recognise that we have placed some big bets, but these seem to be paying off. It'll be a few years before we can confidently talk about impact on pupil outcomes, but the early signs are promising. Feedback from participants and schools is incredibly positive. Teachers on the programme are increasingly dazzling us with their knowledge and confidence. We're also learning lots about what expertise in teaching looks like - which is proving valuable in all sort of ways.
Will this 'evidence-informed' approach be influencing other Ambition Institute programmes?
In short, yes. To have the greatest impact, our programmes need to draw on the best available evidence as standard. This includes evidence from research, but also an understanding of how experienced teachers and school leaders are translating this evidence to their own unique contexts.
Evidence needs to inform both the content and pedagogy of our programmes. It is essential that our programmes generate a deep and lasting learning experience, and that our participants graduate with the expertise required to do their job highly effectively. The work of schools is just too complex to approach this challenge in any other way.