Evidence for Learning: Staff development in ECE

Staff development in ECE

Evidence on staff professional development in early childhood education (ECE) settings including supporting resources.

Recognising and supporting the work of early childhood educators is key to creating a valued, sustainable, and highly skilled workforce. Valuing the work of early childhood educators includes providing opportunities for effective professional development (PD). It is essential that PD is high quality and efficient to meet the needs of early childhood educators and make the most of precious time and resources.

This page is an overview of current evidence and evidence-informed guidance on effective professional development in ECE. It draws on:

  • Evidence from a systematic review of the characteristics of effective PD (from our partners at the Education Endowment Foundation)
  • Practical, evidence-informed resources that we hope are useful for ECE educators and leaders, including a guide and a supporting resource.

E4L’s guide offers suggestions on what is likely to make PD in ECE settings more effective. The guide complements the E4L Guidance Report for schools on PD and is based on the same systematic review of the best available international evidence. The guide highlights five critical elements that are likely to impact practice:

  • Managing cognitive load
  • Presenting information from a credible source
  • Arranging practical social support
  • Providing prompts and cues
  • Prompting action planning.

These elements can enhance existing approaches to PD, and provide guidance on what should be included when selecting or developing PD. The content in the guide is by no means exhaustive.

E4L’s supporting resource on professional development conversations supports the guide on effective PD in early childhood education. Professional conversations are already a part of most early childhood educators’ daily practices and feature in many effective PD approaches. These conversations are structured to support educators to review, reflect and continue developing their practice over time. But how do you make these conversations meaningful and ensure they build on practice?

The resource reflects the elements of effective PD, presented as a cycle for professional development conversations in early childhood education settings. It includes actions and discussion prompts to support each stage of the cycle, an action plan template and a worked example of an action plan. It can be used as a tool by early childhood educators and leaders who are facilitating professional development conversations.

Download E4L’s guide on effective professional development in early childhood education and supporting resource on professional development conversations using the links below.

If you’re looking for support to deliver professional development on specific topics, please see our PD Kits for early childhood educators.