Developing teachers, supporting children

Topics: Safeguarding and child protection Schools

Training teachers to deliver messages about relationships and keeping safe

Keeping Safe is a preventative education programme that helps primary school children in Northern Ireland learn how to keep themselves safe from all forms of abuse.

Teachers play a vital role in implementing programmes such as Keeping Safe and embedding the key messages in all aspects of school life.

We wanted to find out how best to develop teachers’ skills so they can effectively deliver preventative education. We reviewed literature about effective teacher training and carried out a needs assessment with 318 teachers from mainstream and special primary schools in Northern Ireland.

Authors: Dr Aisling McElearney, Christina Murphy and Deborah Radcliffe
Published: 2019


Key findings 

Teachers need training and support to teach children the sensitive preventative education messages that are a part of programmes such as Keeping Safe.

We identified seven characteristics of effective continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers.

  • A focus on student outcomes: research suggests that student outcomes should be the starting point for, and ongoing focus of all teacher development.
  • Collaboration: collaborative work contributes positively to teachers’ knowledge, confidence, self-efficacy, enthusiasm and commitment.
  • Reflection: setting time aside for teachers to think about their learning and make connections to their practice has been identified as an important instrument of change in teacher professional development.
  • Specialist expertise: effective CPD draws on support from experts. This works best when the experts come from outside teachers’ existing setting.
  • Sustained over time: effective professional development is sustained over time and includes multiple opportunities for teachers to engage in active learning and make connections with existing practice.
  • A supportive school culture: school leaders can foster effective professional development by being open to new approaches and encouraging innovation and experimentation. They should also set aside time and resources for CPD.
  • Incorporating models of effective practice: this provides teachers with a clear vision that they can work towards.

We identified key approaches to successful teacher CPD, including:

  • coaching and mentoring
  • communities of practice
  • online learning
  • blended learning (combining online activities and face-to-face instruction).

All approaches should be aligned with teachers’ needs and preferred learning styles. Designers of CPD programmes should consider how easy it will be for teachers to access and take part in the training. 


 Quote

“Training cannot be done on the cheap if you want to make a difference. Teacher training needs to be funded and resourced.”

School principal


Citation

Please cite as:

McElearney, A., Murphy, C. and Radcliffe, D. (2019) Developing teachers, supporting children: sharing the learning from designing professional development within the Keeping Safe programme. Executive summary (PDF). London: NSPCC

McElearney, A., Murphy, C. and Radcliffe, D. (2019) Developing teachers, supporting children: sharing the learning from designing professional development within the Keeping Safe programme. A research study (PDF). London: NSPCC

McElearney, A. and Radcliffe, D. (2019) Developing teachers, supporting children: Learning from international research and good practice: a resource for schools (PDF). London: NSPCC