Research School Network: Implementation Plan 2.0 How the release of the EEF’s Effective Professional Development guidance report led to an update of our implementation plan

Implementation Plan 2.0

How the release of the EEF’s Effective Professional Development guidance report led to an update of our implementation plan

by Durrington Research School
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Almost exactly two years ago I uploaded a video on to YouTube explaining how to complete an implementation plan. This was during the first lockdown, and the purpose was to support the teachers and leaders attending our online training programmes with how to plan successful implementation. You can watch the video here.

I have to admit I was fairly chuffed when the video got the seal of approval from co-author of the EEF’s guidance report on implementation professor Jonathan Sharples, and we have used it ever since to support those we work with. The plan included in the video is an adaptation of the one included in the guidance report, and represents a vital step in turning the content of our training into embedded classroom practice.

Implementation, as Jonathan once said, isn’t sexy. However, it is important, and once you start delving into its complexities, pretty fascinating. Implementation planning has become as integral to our training as the core content we deliver. It starts on day one and is referred to throughout. The implementation plan is the most tangible part of this and as such is something we build our training in this area around.

However, what I have learnt is that nothing is ever finished in education, and it is time for the plan to evolve. The main driver for this to happen now, is that the summer term is underway and our participants will be visiting Durrington over the next few weeks for their final sessions with us, during which they will be completing their plans. The genesis for the change however, has been the recent release of another EEF guidance report, Effective Professional Development.

While implementation has always required the professional development of staff, the language and structure of this was never as clearly articulated as it is in the new guidance report. To briefly summarise the report, it identifies 14 different mechanisms for effective professional development which are split into four categories:

  • Build knowledge
  • Motivate staff
  • Develop teaching techniques
  • Embed practice

This has been really useful for our training programmes and our work in school in shaping the professional development work that sits alongside any intervention. The guidance report suggests choosing at least one mechanism for each category in order to create professional development that is most likely to lead to sustained change. One example of a mechanism would be: setting and agreeing goals” which comes under the motivate staff heading.

Scan through any of our existing implementation plans and you will find professional development activities dotted throughout. It will not be news to anyone that in order to make a change stick, that staff need to properly trained in bringing about that change. For example, if you wanted to develop retrieval practice in your school, teachers would need to build their knowledge, be motivated, practice the technique and make it habitual before retrieval practice could start to have the positive effects we know it can.

However, in the previous iteration it was unclear where this professional development aspect sat alongside other intervention activities such as the resources that would be needed or the monitoring systems that would be put in place.

As a result we have now created the Durrington implementation plan 2.0 as featured below:

Imp plan

As you can see in this new plan professional development has been separated out from other implementation activities. This recognises the special importance that professional development holds within implementation. Ultimately the practitioner is the intervention so their development in delivering it, makes or breaks its success. Furthermore, by delineating it in this way the plan has greater clarity in terms of the specific actions that need to be undertaken by those overseeing the implementation.

To very briefly walk through the process of completing one of these plans, it would look something like this:

  1. Identify the problems that your intervention is attempting to solve from the perspective of teachers, students and attainment.
  2. Create a list of active ingredients (probably between five and ten) that underpin the intervention. These could be thought of as the supporting walls in a building, without any one of them the intervention would fall apart.
  3. Using those suggested in the guidance report, plus any others that are relevant created a timelined list of implementation activities that help the intervention achieve fidelity, reach and acceptability as it seeks to become embedded in your setting.
  4. Identify which professional development mechanisms you will use to train staff effectively in the delivery of the intervention. Again this should include specific details such as by when, by who and how.
  5. Identify the outcomes that will define the intervention as successful. As with the problems at the start these are differentiated by teachers, students and attainment.

This is an oversimplification of the process, but gives an guide as to the process that the plan would follow. The biggest caveat is that substantial exploratory work in underpinning principles would need to have been done prior to this in order to be able to complete the plan effectively. Also there would be lots of discussion, checking and revision as the plan was being written.

Plans under this new format are already being written and inevitably we will find issues with it as we do so. However, the articulation of effective professional development can only increase the chance of all our interventions finding there way into sustained changes in the classroom.

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