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The Golden Thread and The Golden Opportunity

The coming months are a golden opportunity for the teaching profession with major reforms to professional development.


These reforms will support teachers at each stage in their career. From initial teacher training and early career development, through to specialist and leadership opportunities; hence the idiom ‘golden thread’.


As a school leader, I know that nothing is more important than investing in those who support our children and young people day in, day out. This is why I think we now have a golden opportunity. Here are three of my personal highlights about the reforms.


On paper, the reforms are a giant leap in the right direction, yet their success is not guaranteed. As school leaders, we need to create the right conditions, or, to continue the analogy, clear the landing zone.

1. Specialist qualifications


Across our Trust schools, I am particularly proud of our pastoral care and support. Not only does it support pupils to live happier, more fulfilled and dignified lives, but it ensures that they arrive at lessons ready to learn.


Despite the importance of pastoral care and support, there are currently few opportunities for colleagues to develop the necessary skills. The Leading Behaviour and Culture National Professional Qualification will help to demystify these vital roles.


2. Nurturing novice teachers.


The first few years as a teacher can be particularly tough. Watching my daughter and her friends join the profession this year has provided a personal reminder.


The Early Career Framework will see every new teacher receive two years of learning and professional development. Our own Early Career Teachers, who have helped pilot the programme, have flourished with this added support.


3. Research evidence and professional expertise.


Each strand of the golden thread of professional development is now underpinned by a rigorous framework that fuses the best available research evidence with the hard-won wisdom of great teachers.


By focusing professional development on these ‘learn that…’ and ‘learn how to…’ statements – which come from research evidence and expert practitioner insights respectively, all teachers will be empowered to realise their full potential as well as that of their colleagues, and – crucially – their pupils.


On paper, the reforms are a giant leap in the right direction, yet their success is not guaranteed. As school leaders, we need to create the right conditions, or, to continue the analogy, clear the landing zone.



Lesley Powell CBE is the CEO of the North East Learning Trust and was part of the DfE’s Expert Advisory Group for the National Professional Qualifications.