How Teachers Approach Practice Improvement

Helen Poet, Peter Rudd, Robert Smith

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


When teachers are seeking to improve their teaching, how do they identify their
strengths and weaknesses, and who do they turn to for support and ideas? This
report presents the findings relating to this topic from a qualitative study based
on the evidence of interviews with 39 teachers from different phases of education.
The sample included a mix of teachers in terms of gender, age, length of service and geography. The interviews took place in June and July 2010. The study, carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), was commissioned by the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) in 2010.
The aims of the study were to identify what motivates teachers to identify and act on areas for improvement in their practice, how teachers then decide what to do to address areas for improvement and the factors that affect how teachers go about this.

On the whole, teachers tended to prefer approaches perceived to be ‘informal’, such as self reflection and peer support, over more formal approaches (typically
characterised by an element of assessment such as performance management and external observation). All interviewees reported using at least some self reflection fairly regularly, usually as an informal, personal exercise to review a particular lesson. Teachers who had experienced observation felt it was helpful if the feedback was constructive, specific and at a sufficient level of detail, although some felt that it could turn into an artificial, and in the case of external observations, stressful, exercise which devalued it slightly. Collaboration with colleagues was also valued by teachers, and for some, the performance management process had supported them to identify areas for improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherGeneral Teaching Council for England
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Teaching, teaching profession, CPD, teaching practice, teaching standards, teacher accountability

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