How we meet the DfE Standard for Teacher Development


In July 2016, the Department for Education (DfE) released new Standards for Teacher Development . As a provider of professional development, it is our responsibility to ensure that our CPD offer meets these standards.

This statement sets out how our products and services meet the new DfE Standard for Teacher Development, and any adaptations that have been made or will be made in the light of these. This statement has been drawn up with reference to the implementation guidance provided by the DfE alongside the standards documentation.

Standard 1: Professional development should have a clear focus on improving and evaluating student outcomes.

We agree that the focus of professional development should always be improving student outcomes. All of our CPD programmes and courses are designed to improve student outcomes either directly through Action Learning challenges, or indirectly through up-skilling of the teacher. The latter is particularly relevant to primary settings, where teachers often lack confidence and expertise in teaching music. In this situation, up-skilling the teacher in the basics of music-making can have a profound impact on student outcomes even though at face value the focus is the teacher.

On our longer-term CPD programmes, learners are encouraged to set goals based around pupil outcomes, and to evaluate these at regular intervals. The Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators has a particularly strong focus on evaluation of student outcomes, and further information on how this qualification fits with the DfE standards can be found at

Each of our day courses and INSET sessions, contain a number of Action Learning Challenges, inviting participants to try out ideas in the classroom and monitor impact on student outcomes. Participants are also encouraged to stay in touch with us and each other, and report back on student progress.

Standard 2: Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.

The content devised for our courses, CPD programmes and INSET sessions draws heavily on the work of music education theorists such as Keith Swanwick, John Paynter and Janet Mills, and more contemporary researchers such as Professor Susan Hallam, Janet Mills, Paul Harris, Gary Spruce, and Professor Martin Fautley.

We also feature the research work of our own consultants. In our team we have one professor and two doctorates, and a large proportion of the rest of our team carry out their own research, albeit outside a formal academic setting. As an example, our 2016-17 courses ‘Super Singing at Secondary’, ‘Confident Composing at Secondary’ and ‘Excellence in First Access’ are based respectively on the latest research by our consultants Professor Martin Ashley, Kirsty Devaney (final year PhD student), and our director Dr Elizabeth Stafford.

We also use the practical experience of our team to inform and develop our CPD content. We only use consultants with national and international reputations in music education, ensuring a high level of expertise in both content design and delivery.

We already survey all of our clients to evaluate the quality and impact of our services, however, we recognise that we would also benefit from quality assurance of our work by an independent expert. We are therefore in the process of commissioning an independent report into all of our products and services.

Standard 3: Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.

All of our longer term CPD programmes (2 term-2 year programmes) begin with a Needs Analysis process, where the learner works an expert mentor to identify areas for development through co-analysis of practice. The mentor’s role is to draw out the learner’s needs and concerns and build a plan to address these. They are also required, when necessary, to challenge the learner using the benefit of their music education expertise.

At the beginning of each of our day courses, we already ask everyone to describe what it is they hope to get out of the day, so that the course leader can tailor their approach. We then revisit these requests at the end of the day to ensure that all learning needs have been met. However, we recognise that we could do more in advance to ensure a truly collaborative approach. We are now working towards an online system that takes account of these requests at the point of booking, so that we can fully tailor each course to the participants’ requirements in advance.

When clients approach us to devise INSET training, they often already have a clear idea of their team’s needs. It is our responsibility to reflect these in our training, ensuring that the session they receive is relevant, useful and fit for purpose. However, it is also our responsibility to use our expertise to advise clients when their requests are not in line with current best practice, or when the combination of topics requested will not sit comfortably or usefully within a single session. Fortunately these situations rarely arise, and when they have done, we have always received a positive response from clients to our suggestions. Nevertheless we recognise that it would be useful to have an internal policy in place to which to refer to ensure consistency and reliability of approach.

Standard 4: Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.

We offer a range of professional development options, from one day courses to two year accredited programmes. We provide a year-long support programme for Primary Music Coordinators, a similar programme for Secondary Music NQTs, and the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators which lasts up to 2 years. Through we provide online courses to which participants automatically have six months access, and our ‘Primary Music Bootcamp’ initiative provides a two day intensive face-to-face training course followed by two terms of e-mentoring.

Whilst we agree that one day courses cannot have the impact of a sustained programme, we firmly believe that there is a place for these types of courses in the music education sector, particularly for primary teachers. These teachers often receive little instruction on music in their initial teacher training, so our day courses can prove valuable in giving teachers the skills and confidence to begin their music-teaching journey. Similarly, instrumental and vocal teachers are often highly skilled musically, but may receive little or no instruction in teaching during their undergraduate degrees. A one-day course can therefore be extremely useful for filling in the gaps in their knowledge, and starting them off on their professional development journey.

We make a concerted effort to lengthen the impact of our one-day courses, by setting Action Learning challenges for participants to try once they are back in school, and by providing follow up emails with further suggestions for reading materials, resources and classroom ideas. Participants are encouraged to stay in touch with the course leader and the company, to continue their professional development dialogue.

Each year, we carefully plan our one-day course topics so that they combine to provide a coherent programme. This enables participants to create their own bespoke, sustained professional development programme.

Standard 5: Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

When we work directly with schools, it has to date always been at the request of a member of the senior leadership team, usually the Head Teacher. We are usually therefore in the happy position of knowing that the school leadership prioritises music CPD! However, we take our responsibilities to schools extremely seriously, and there is usually a lengthy process of negotiation to establish what the school requirements are and how these can realistically be achieved. Again, we are lucky that we almost always find senior leadership teams to be open to and enthusiastic about our recommendations, resulting in a professional development programme that all parties can be confident in.

It is clear that while we have not yet come across a difficult situation with school leadership, this might arise in the future. We will therefore create a policy on developing CPD programmes for schools to ensure consistency of approach in the future and to prevent any situation where our desire to please our school clients compromises

To conclude

As a result of this exercise, we have identified some areas for development within our products, services and systems. We are now committed to beginning the process of addressing these during the 2016-17 academic year, and will post a further update on the progress of this work in or before July 2017.