What makes a school the right one for your child? This is a common question parents ask when choosing their children’s school. You should rightly consider the facilities available, the past performance of the school in external exams, what co-curricular events are offered, what competitions the school enters, and wins and the technology that the school uses. But fundamentally, when you choose a school you are looking for high quality teaching and learning – and this means you have to ask about teacher development and training.

The importance of training can be seen globally. A recent report by the UK’s Education Policy Institute found that high quality training was a cost-effective way to produce a ”‘significant effect on learning outcomes’”. The Government of India recently set aside Rs99,300 crores (UK £10.7 billion; US $13.8 billion) for education – and the majority was aimed at developing the skills of teachers.

So, what questions do parents need to ask? Below are our four suggestions.

1 . How much training is offered to teachers?

The simplest question allows schools to give two types of answer. Some will cite how many days each year are set aside for training, and perhaps offer some ideas of what is offered in them. But other schools will talk instead about how training and development are an integral part of the way the school works, and how training takes place every week in departments and teaching teams as well as whole school events. Our blog on using video lesson observation for professional development shared five such ideas.

2. What form does this training take?

Much training in schools has historically taken the form of the ‘training days’ mentioned above, where external speakers or senior leaders within the school talk to all the teachers in a school and then leave them to implement the new ideas suggested. One of our more recent blogs shows how this is unlikely to lead to long term change and suggests ways of making this form of training more likely to succeed. However, longer term programmes that involve teachers reflecting on classroom lessons will have a more positive impact on teacher development.

3. How much are teachers involved in setting the direction of their training?

Training can be something that is ‘done’ to teachers. But recent research from the UK’s National Foundation for Education Research shows that ‘perceived autonomy over professional development goals has the greatest association with improved satisfaction and intention to stay’ of any issue facing teachers. So, teachers who can identify and work on the issues that affect them in their classrooms will benefit hugely. We saw this in practice in our work with the Doon School in India where two teachers worked with an external coach on issues they chose to great success.

4. How does the school use technology to support training?

Conventionally details of teachers’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) remain in the form of a physical file that comes out once a term and has no real significance between those dates. However, the latest technology allows training to be much more focused. Teachers can use technology to self-reflect on lessons and revisit their ideas before teaching the same class or use an app to refresh their subject knowledge. They can use ONVU Learning’s Lessonvu discreet 360-degree video technology to gain a clear view of everything that happens in a lesson. And they can use global communication technology to remotely discuss their issues with mentors and experts from a partner school or university in the same town or on the other side of the world.

In summary – do the school’s training and development initiatives add real value to each and every teacher every single day? And by doing so, does it dramatically improve the learning curve of students? If so, that’s probably the right school for your child!

To find out more about how ONVU Learning can help your school improve its teaching and learning using our innovative teacher training and development solution called Lessonvu, please get in touch with our team now.  

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