New research finds teachers want to prioritise professional development

May 17, 2023

A survey of teachers commissioned by Ambition Institute has found that the Early Career Framework and professional development has the least impact on high workload compared to other tasks.

In a recent YouGov poll, the majority of teachers did not cite professional development as a major cause of high workload. It ranked last on a list of thirteen contributing factors, with meetings and administration, lesson planning, and marking named as the biggest drivers of teachers working long hours.

The nationally representative survey demonstrates the value that teachers place on professional development. More than 1,000 primary and secondary teachers in the UK shared which tasks they wish to spend less time on to balance workload and positive outcomes for pupils:

  • Almost three quarters of teachers (74%) said that spending less time on meetings and administration would help them focus on pupils.
  • More than half reported that they would ideally spend less time on preparing for inspections (60%) and marking work (55%).
  • More than a third said that they would like to spend less time on providing cover for absent colleagues (40%) and behaviour management (37%).

By contrast, participation in the Early Career Framework (ECF) and other professional development activities was the least common response (10%).

The survey also found that 85% of teachers believe that it is important for early career teachers – those that have qualified as a teacher less than two years ago – to take time for their professional development every week.

Nine in ten (91%) teachers also believe that the mentors should benefit from training on how best to support, coach, and constructively challenge early career teachers.

Previous studies have found that professional development for teachers supports retention in the sector, particularly for new teachers.

Marie Hamer, Executive Director of Strategy and Impact at Ambition Institute, said: “These findings explore the workload challenges that many teachers are facing, but show that professional development is not part of the problem. Teachers place a high value on professional development including the Early Career Framework and want more time dedicated to it, not less. Teachers deserve access to high quality, evidence-based, rigorous development and we know many school and trust leaders are successfully creating the conditions for this. Providing this to all teachers will help ensure that every pupil, regardless of their background, gets the education they deserve.”

The poll follows a recent review into teacher professional development from Ofsted, which found that teachers and leaders want more time dedicated to professional development, but workload pressures often prevent this. However, the ECF and NPQs were found to represent a significant step forward, with early career teachers and staff undertaking NPQs generally more positive about their development experiences than other teachers.

To read more about the survey findings, please visit our blog.