Improving the system of professional development of teachers and school leaders

Mattias Malk

The Ministry of Education and Research, the European Commission, and the British Council have launched a project to tackle some important challenges of the professional development system. Schools and local authorities are welcome to apply to our pilot project and to test the toolkit that is being created.

Detailed information about the project

How to take into consideration the individual needs of teachers and school leaders? How to support cooperation inside schools in order to improve the implementation of new ideas and practices in everyday work? How to evaluate the effect of training programmes?

The main actions of this program:

  1. We will develop a toolkit, which helps teachers and school leaders to assess their personal needs for professional development and set priorities. 
  2. We will create a toolkit to measure the effect of schooling programmes. We will help teachers and school leaders to analyse whether they have obtained new knowledge and skills and whether they apply them in their everyday work. 
  3. We will inquire what motivates teachers and school leaders to develop themselves professionally in a long term perspective. We will formulate policy recommendations for school owners. 
  4. We will analyse the governance of the professional development system (how decisions are being made on priority topics and funding) and what could be improved.

What kind of professional development training is most useful?

Based on numerous international studies, the Teacher Development Trust in England has formulated what kind of professional development would be most useful for teachers. In other words, what kind of professional development would help to improve the quality of teaching and learning. There are five main conditions:

  1. Teachers engage in long-term programmes lasting 6 months or more
  2. The experience of teachers and their unique needs are considered during the development process; teachers are supported in relating new ideas to their experience
  3. Teachers have opportunities to discuss amongst each other both theory and practice of new ideas; they test practices in classrooms; see practices expertly modelled; receive feedback on their own efforts
  4. Teachers are clear on the intended impact of Continuing Professional Development on their learners; they use formative assessment to check whether new practices are having an impact; they adapt their approaches accordingly
  5. Teachers engage in processes that challenge and deepen their thinking – this requires external support and challenge; they are not just having the same discussions with the same people

Cooperation with pilot schools and school owners

The goal of the cooperation is to test the toolkit in pilot schools and develop them further. 

We expect school leaders, head of studies, and three teachers from each school to participate in this pilot project. It is advisable that all three teachers would represent the same subject area: primary school, mother tongue, foreign language, social science, maths or natural science teachers. 

A master teacher participating in the project team will help teachers to analyse development needs and to plan specific steps. It is advisable that the school’s head of studies would attend these meetings.

School leaders will be coupled up with an experienced school leader with whom they can assess their development needs, to set priorities and to plan specific steps. 

Teachers, heads of studies and school leaders can give feedback to the toolkit created.

The application deadline for the pilot programme is on Friday, 11 December. 

Cooperation with local experts

Together with an international team of experts (Harry Fletcher-Wood, Josh Goodrich, Eva Hartell, Ed Vainker), Estonian education experts also have an important role in creating the toolkit. We expect five master teachers, five experienced school leaders, and five education researchers from universities to join the project team.

It will be a unique chance to participate in the creation process of new and evidence-based toolkit, from which Estonian teachers and school leaders can benefit in future. Moreover, it will be a great opportunity to work together with top education specialists from Europe. 

Master teachers and university representatives are expected to contribute one workday per week from January to June 2021. School leaders are expected to contribute half a day during the same period of time. The work of local experts is compensated with a monthly fee of 300 EUR a month (total sum).

The application deadline is Friday, 11 December. 


In case of any questions, please contact us.