CPD Spend; How Much is Enough?

0.7%, 1%, 2% of school budget/revenue, more? This is a question that I get asked on a weekly basis.  How much should we be spending on CPD?  How much is enough?

I often reference Viviane Robinson’s work from a Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) where she identifies the leadership dimension of ‘leading teacher learning and development’ as having a 0.84 effect size for pupil outcomes; significantly beyond any other leadership dimension.  The next most impactful are ‘ensuring quality teaching’ and ‘establishing goals and expectations’ at a good 0.42; but far off the 0.84[i].

Based on this research and considering that the key purpose of a school is to optimise pupil outcomes and wellbeing, you would expect that a significant percentage of school budget would be allocated to this area; wouldn’t you?

The Teacher Development Trust reported in January 2017[ii] that that average spend in the UK was 0.7% of school budget but what about international schools?

Last week I listened to an excellent session at the Alliance for International Education[iii] ‘Internationalising Schools’ conference where Peggy Pelonis, Dean of Student Affairs from ACS Athens shared her current research.  This research, soon to be published, identified that the average international school spend on CPD was 2% of school revenue (this research was gathered from 200 international headteachers across the world).

Of course, what is included as CPD ‘spend’ is an interesting question; does this include exam spec and accreditation updates, which are a significant budgetary spend in international schools and, if so, does that mean that other types of spend are less than domestic system comparatives?  This got me thinking about whether it is really a question of how much spend or what impact CPD spend has?

Does CPD spend itself always equal improved pupil outcomes?

From a financial perspective we could look at the how much is enough question from a best value perspective.  It’s not about a set amount but securing solutions through looking at factors other than only price.  In our education world this surely has to be about impact on pupil outcomes and wellbeing? And, in this regard, of course, not all CPD is created equal.

talis picI find the international comparative data in the TALIS[iv] insights report fascinating with this regard in terms of time spent and types of CPD activity against comparative rankings globally.


talis table (2)


In looking at the types of CPD, there is a clear correlation with those jurisdictions where teachers engage with individual or collaborative research, and those that are consistently high performing in OECD comparisons.

Interestingly, however, amount of time spent does not seem to correlate to high performance in terms of pupil outcomes in this data.  Does the same apply to price; is it quality of outcome over quantity of spend?

Being a high spending CPD school may or may not equate to high pupil outcomes.  It could be like buying a Ferrari.  If you are a competent driver, you will see the benefits of this beautifully crafted car.  However, if you can’t drive you may well admire its beauty from afar, a feat of engineering is visible but you do not truly experience nor truly know its ‘value’.  You don’t benefit from its full potential. CPD spend is the same. If you know which types of CPD to lever and when, with a focus on pupil outcomes and wellbeing, you will achieve optimum results and best value from your investment. If you don’t know how to ‘drive’ CPD, then you won’t see its full potential.

So… thank you for asking how much is enough?  It is a question we should be asking alongside how much impact do we expect from this investment.  When it comes to budgets and CPD spend, it is useful to have a benchmark for guidance purposes.  However, we do need further data and research in this area where we can segment school CPD spend and activity against measurable and comparable school characteristics which can help inform schools as to how best spend their money for the benefit of their pupils.

CPD spend matters, but impactful CPD spend matters more!

[i] Robinson, V., (2011). Student-Centered Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

[ii] https://tdtrust.org/benchmarking

[iii] http://www.intedalliance.org/

[iv] https://epi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/TeacherWorkload_EPI.pdf


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