Training Survey

Significant numbers of teachers said they were deprived of adequate training and development, according to a 2015 YouGov poll commissioned by Education Support Partnership.

The poll of a representative sample of 774 teachers in England and Wales in September 2014 received concerning responses in relation to both initial teacher training (ITT) and subsequent continuing professional development (CPD).

Julian Stanley, Chief Executive of Education Support Partnership, said:

“Our survey suggests that many existing training programmes do not adequately prepare teachers for some of the key challenges of the job such as managing poor student behaviour and handling the pressure of ever-increasing workloads.

We are calling for a reform to ITT content and for ring-fenced budgets for schools to spend on all staff training days which can be delivered by expert external trainers. Investing in quality, regular training and mentoring schemes will help retain more staff and allow them to develop into teachers who are well equipped to maintain and raise education standards.”

Inadequate ITT

Overall 24% of teachers said their ITT prepared them ‘not very well’ or ‘not at all well’ for their teaching career. 38% said their ITT prepared them ‘adequately’, 25% said it prepared them ‘well’ and just 11% said it prepared them ‘very well’. Leading issues that teachers said their ITT did not prepare them for were:

  • behaviour management / classroom management / discipline / disruptive pupils (25%)
  • workload / paperwork / admin (17%)
  • dealing with parents / parents’ evenings (13%)
  • workplace bullying / difficult managers / staff relationships / office politics / lack of support (7%)
  • assessment / levelling (7%)
  • change curriculum, political etc (7%)

We are determined to improve training so more education staff feel equipped to manage these issues, which can impact seriously on their health and effectiveness otherwise.

Workload, change, unreasonable demands from managers and student behaviour are the leading workplace-based causes of common mental health conditions in the profession, according to our 2014 Health Survey. Comments from polled teachers included:

  • It was a series of tickbox exercises with no real structured support on a day-to-day basis. I was not well prepared for classroom management, behaviour management, and the sheer amount of data that teachers have to deal with and churn out. Working a 60+ hour week was expected. No guidance in doing a good job without missing out on sleep.
  • The realities. I feel that sometimes I was taught to pass my PGCE, rather than how to be a real-life teacher.
  • I don’t feel that my training was at all inadequate but constant new initiatives has made adequate training almost impossible.

Inadequate professional development

After initial training, 42% of teachers who responded said they had not been able to take all additional training and development they wanted to take to improve. Of these, 51% said they could not take desired training or development because of cost, finances and / or no funding, and 20% blamed time pressures.

Results also suggested that there is a training bias in favour of school leaders and against supply teachers, although the sample sizes were small for these groups. 19 out of 24 Headteachers / Principals who responded said they had been able to take all additional training and development they wanted to take to improve, compared to just 30 out of 99 supply teacher respondents. Comments included:

  • I feel the job itself is so intense there isn’t the time
  • any training given has been in house for most teachers except for the Head and the deputy
  • cost of such training prohibitive. Reluctance of senior staff to invest in teachers
  • schools don’t want to invest in teachers
  • my school said, “it’s CPD just being here”
  • my school is very committed to providing good quality CPD for all staff. We provide as much as we can ‘in house’ and work closely with other schools to share expertise. However sometimes a course is needed and these are expensive. In addition the supply costs to cover my class have meant that training becomes too expensive.

Policy recommendations

As a result of these findings, we have developed proposals to improve ITT content, improve staff access to CPD funding (such as via ring-fenced budgets for whole-staff external training), reduce training costs and reduce workload. These proposals feature in our 2015-20 manifesto.