The content and structure of our professional development are based directly on research evidence on how children and adults learn and how that learning can best be supported. We have identified the following characteristics as most strongly evidenced in research and theory.

  • Starts with the end in mind – is clearly focused on child outcomes and how to influence these outcomes through effective practice
  • High quality content focused on how children learn and develop in specific areas (e.g. language) and how to support that development through effective practice
  • Involves active rather than passive learning
  • Involves practitioners in investigating pedagogy, practice or data from their own rooms/settings and using this to inform changes to practice
  • Of long enough duration (hours and spread of time) to support meaningful learning
  • Provides information about the research or theory behind practice
  • Supports practitioners in translating new learning into practice within their own settings. Embedded within day-to-day work and experience.
  • Supports professional dialogue, collaborative learning/problem solving and the sharing of practice between practitioners and settings. Encourages the development of professional learning networks or communities, either within or between settings
  • Encourages and develops critical reflection skills
  • Practitioners can see links with local and national frameworks/ policies they need to work within (coherence)
  • Provides access to external expertise
  • Is supported by strong leadership of professional learning within the setting

Sources include: Stoll et al (2012), Desimone (2009), Mitchell & Cubey (2003), Timperley (2007, 2008), Hawley and Valli (1999), Mayer & Lloyd (2011), Hamre et al (2012), Doecke et al., 2008 among others. Some of the evidence relates to professional development for older children, but is nonetheless very useful in shaping early years professional development.