Research School Network: Remote Professional Development: A Summary of the EEF Rapid Evidence Assessment In this post, Deb Friis explores the new rapid evidence assessment on remote CPD, published by the EEF

Remote Professional Development: A Summary of the EEF Rapid Evidence Assessment

In this post, Deb Friis explores the new rapid evidence assessment on remote CPD, published by the EEF

In these strange times we are all having to learn how to work in different ways, and much has now been written about the relative merits of different models of remote learning for students. However the current situation can also have a large impact on staff development – now more than ever teaching staff need to feel connected and supported in their work and we do not stop wanting to improve. Much of this CPD is now having to be moved online and it is important that it continues to be of high quality. In fact this situation could be seen as an opportunity to meet the CPD needs of a wider range of staff as travel time is saved and the need for cover is potentially reduced.

The EEF have just released a Rapid Evidence Assessment on Remote Professional Development and this blog outlines the main findings and recommendations. There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of remote PD, particularly in our current situation of a pandemic, so evidence is also drawn from the fields of welfare and health.

There are various models of professional development which should be defined:

– No face-to-face contact

– Delivery is a mixture of remote and face-to-face. This is not the same as face-to-face training with independent study or gap tasks”.

Remote delivery also falls into different categories:

– Live sessions and specific times

– Pre-recorded directed sessions or interactive resources that can be accessed at any time

Self-directed learning
– resources that can be accessed independently with no direction from an external tutor, for example discussion forums. This aspect is not covered in this report.

How effective is remote PD?

All PD has the potential to improve knowledge and ultimately student outcomes. There is mixed evidence on whether remote PD is more or less effective that face-to-face, and it is likely that the design of the PD programme is more important that its method of delivery. This is good news as no strong evidence has been found to suggest that PD should be delayed for staff until it can be run face-to-face again.

There are only a small number of rigorous studies that have taken place to examine the effectiveness of remote PD, however the quality of the studies was good meaning the EEF has reasonable confidence in these findings.

Synchronous vs asynchronous PD

This aspect is less clear-cut as there are no studies directly comparing the impact of synchronous verses asynchronous models. Some studies were with groups of staff undertaking remote PD together, which may well not be the case in our Covid-19 world. Overall, there appear to be benefits to each model of CPD, and no one model is more effective than another. There are a number of specific findings in this section that are very helpful with the design of remote training courses:

- Asynchronous delivery allows more flexibility for participants

- For groups of participants working together, both a synchronous virtual classroom” model and an asynchronous set-up where tutorials are undertaken together and in a set order showed promise.

- The use of video is beneficial both as a synchronous activity (for example watching a live lesson remotely) and also as an asynchronous task, as it can be replayed and allow for reflection over time.

- One-to-one professional support, mentoring and coaching is effective in improving skills and knowledge. It can also reduce feelings of isolation and can be used to complement other methods of delivery, where it may enhance completion rates.

Review of Common approaches

Remote learning common approaches

Support from school leaders

Support is critical in allowing remote PD in any form to be successful. There are a number of key factors which are important:

- Availability of and training on the technology needed
- Time within working hours to complete the PD
- Flexibility about how and when it takes place
- Clear expectations with objectives shared

Because of the narrative nature of the evidence in this area, it can be regarded as good quality.

It is hoped that we can use these recommendations to improve not only CPD during this Covid-19 situation, but also to make longer-term changes to the way training is delivered to make it more effective and hence have more impact.


Education Endowment Foundation (2020) Remote Professional Development, Rapid Evidence Assessment, London: Education Endowment Foundation

Deb Friis

Deb is a maths teacher at Durrington High School. She is also a Maths Research Associate for Durrington Research School and Sussex Maths Hub Secondary Co-Lead and will be delivering our training on the EEF Guidelines for KS2 and 3 Maths.

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