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Staff deployment & development

Improving the quality of teaching through staff deployment and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).


Quality of teaching is the single most important driver of pupil attainment and a range of other positive outcomes. Maximising the quality of teaching through the effective deployment and development of teachers and teaching assistants will therefore be at the top of any school’s priorities.

Guidance Reports

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Toolkit strands

Evidence Summary

Continuing Professional Development (CPD): The type and quality of CPD that schools use really matters when it comes to improving teacher quality and pupil attainment. Usually, effective CPD is:

  • supported by the school’s leadership,
  • sustained over at least two terms,
  • includes expert input, peer collaboration, and opportunities for teachers to consider and experiment with their learning and get feedback on their work. 

For example, the EEF-funded project Thinking, Doing, Talking Science provided teachers with five days of structured CPD on specific practices, as well as dedicated time to work with colleagues to plan and review lessons. The results suggest that the programme had a positive impact on science attainment; it is one of the EEF’s Promising Projects.

However, the evaluation of the Anglican Schools Partnership Effective Feedback pilot project highlighted some of the difficulties of developing effective and relevant CPD. The report concluded that the support provided sometimes lacked structure and teachers often struggled to interpret, understand and apply findings from the literature to their own practice.

To help address the challenge teachers face in finding and applying research, the EEF has, alongside the London Schools Excellence Fund and the Department for Education, funded trials of a number of programmes aiming to improve the link between academic research and classroom practice. 

Some of these projects are still in progress, but results from two pilots, Research into Practice and Research Champions, suggest support from senior leaders is crucial to support teachers’ use of research. This issue is explored further in this EEF blog, ‘Fidelity vs Flexibility’

Performance pay: Performance pay schemes are a tool used by some schools to improve teaching quality. These schemes create a direct link between a teacher’s wages (or bonus) and the performance of their students. The few, existing, rigorous evaluations of performance pay schemes suggest that they have not, on average, made any difference to pupil outcomes. However, the evidence base is limited so it is not yet possible to make confident claims about how effective performance pay usually is or isn’t.

Teaching Assistants: The EEF guidance report, Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants, presents the best available evidence regarding the deployment and development of teaching assistants. The report makes seven evidence-based recommendations to help schools maximise the impact of teaching assistants (TAs), and is accompanied by a range of supporting resources. 

Previous research has shown that, in many English schools, TAs are not being deployed in ways that improve pupil outcomes. For example, TAs replace, rather than supplement, teaching from qualified teachers. However, there is a growing evidence base – including independent evaluations of six EEF-funded projects – which suggests that when they are used to deliver structured programmes with high-quality training and support, TAs can have a positive impact on pupil learning. 

Promising Projects

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Nuffield Early Language Intervention

University College London and ICAN

grade promising project

Improving spoken language skills in young children around the time that they start school

Evidence Strength
Impact (months)
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URLEY (Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years)

University of Oxford, UCL, and A+ Education

Professional development and mentoring for early years practitioners to improve quality, using Environment Rating Scales.

Evidence Strength
Impact (months)
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The Teacher Development Trust has carried out a review of the international research which presents an overview of the evidence on which approaches to professional development appear to be most effective.

Implementation is important in the adoption of new practice in schools, so getting CPD right is paramount. 

In April 2019, we published an evidence review looking at current quality assurance systems for professional development in education and other professions, commissioned in partnership with Wellcome. You can read it here.

You can download our 'Putting Evidence to Work - A School's Guide to Implementation' guidance report here and our 'Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants' guidance report here.