Training and Employability

New changes to the UK exam system: What does this mean for Second Chance Schools and educators Continuous Professional Development?

The new system for GCSEs examination in the UK have been taught in schools since September 2015, and the first new set of exams is set to take place in the summer of 2017. Since the UK Government announced changes to the education system prominent speakers such as Alice Phillips, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, warns of the danger of creating “an unforgiving exam system” with “no real second chances, no wiggle room or place to make amends”. Phillips speaking at a conference in the UK told delegates: “As I try to inspire young women and watch them trying to measure up to grade requirements, I am outraged because I, too, am required to ‘play the system’ to help them fulfil their ambitions.”
The new system may mean that the design of high-quality professional development for teachers and educators may become even more complex a discipline as the design of high-quality teaching. It will require the planning of programmes of connected activities with clarity about intended outcomes, and evaluation. As the new test will be introduced this year effective professional development will rely upon teachers, headteachers and leadership teams in schools and organisations providing professional development, being clear about their respective roles and working together effectively.
Professional development can take many forms, but the best available evidence shows that this must work in partnership between:
• Headteachers and members of the leadership team;
• Teachers; and
• Providers of professional development expertise, training or consultancy.
In order for this partnership to be successful it should have the following features:
1. Focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
2. Underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
3. Include collaboration and expert challenge.
4. Sustained over time. And all this is underpinned by, and requires that:
5. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.
To find out more about what teachers across UK and Europe say is more important to them when undertaking professional development visit us at

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