The Marvelous Maths of CPD – Best ROI in Primary Education

High-quality CPD for educators shares several distinct hallmarks – focus on pupil outcomes, robust evidence and expertise, a long-term strategic investments and prioritisation by senior leadership. Plus research by the Wellcome Trust shows it can be one the best investments a school can make to transform pupil outcomes, teacher confidence and staff retention.

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Not everyone loves maths. But bear with us.

What if you had a machine where you could insert 5 pounds and get 12,650 pounds back?

Pound coins, custard creams, sunny days.  Whatever your preferred currency, you’d get an amazing return, wouldn’t you agree?

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Expressed in “fuzzy” maths, what if:

  • 5 was annual training days invested 
  • and X was the value multiplier of continuing professional development
  • then 12,650 would represent the 10 years’ of teaching days’ experience gained


You’re definitely onto something big, right?

“[A] study commissioned by Wellcome…reveal[ed] that 35 hours of high-quality professional development annually could yield outcomes comparable to having a teacher with a decade of classroom experience. Moreover, quality CPD emerges as a key player in enhancing teacher retention.” EDX

That’s the transformative value of continuing professional development. 

It supercharges teaching quality like no other educational investment.


Annual CPD – Why Every Teacher Needs It

CPD is a mandated requirement of many UK professions. From lawyers, to healthcare professionals to accountants and beyond, CPD is foundational to most individual professionals in most sectors. 

So it’s no surprise Ofsted would maintain that “[t]eachers’ professional development is crucial to a high-quality education system.” OFS

In education, CPD can go by many names, including but limited to in-service training days (INSET), professional learning, continuing professional learning and development (CPLD), etc.. 

Irrespective of the acronym, the goal is the same. 

“When teachers, as learners themselves, base their everyday practice on an updated, coherent and integrated professional knowledge base, this can lead to improvements in pupils’ learning outcomes.” OFS

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

Professional development standard and guidance for teachers produced by the Teachers’ Professional Development Expert Group further outlined the five key qualities that schools’ CPD must evidence:

  • Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
  • Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
  • Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge.
  • Professional development programmes should be sustained over time.
  • Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership. DFE
A woman in a blue top with a red lanyard is standing in front of a whiteboard, teaching a class.
A woman with glasses is looking down at her laptop

When There’s Not Enough Good CPD to Go Around

Quality targets aside, there are very real obstacles to achieving even a bare minimum number of CPD hours for today’s primary school teachers. 

Ofsted describes a troubling pattern emerging like so:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic affected schools’ ability to give teachers enough development opportunities
  • Consequently, teachers and leaders want more time dedicated to professional development, including follow-up, but workload pressures often prevent this.
  • Generally, the training and development opportunities teachers and leaders had engaged in since April 2021 were wide ranging. It is encouraging that schools have prioritised training and development around the curriculum. 
  • As a parallel consequence of the pandemic, schools are focusing on mental health and well-being training. 
  • However, in around half the schools visited, it was clear that the staff’s understanding of planning and designing a curriculum remained limited, even though they had received some training and development.
  • Teachers particularly want more training in teaching pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). 
  • While it is clear that leaders and teachers are receiving or planning for regular professional development, they are often unimpressed with the quality of their recent training and development.
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COVID put enormous downward pressure on schools and CPD when moved online failed to provide the richness and quality needed. Using online technologies to delver lessons also proved a drag on resources with teachers spending more time to get less done. CPD was one of the casualties and the appetite for more/catch-up opportunities has grown.

Prior to 2021, CPD was often general, scattershot even – and not particularly focused on individual subjects or curriculum development. With the pandemic training focus has flowed toward mental health and well-being training, leaving staff without necessary confidence and/or skills to plan or design curricula. And ultimately the teaching of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities was oft cited as lagging behind other knowledge areas.

Where is Good CPD Happening? Allies in Continuous Learning

We found two great examples in the dance world and in the chemistry laboratory.


“The Royal Opera House’s Create & Dance Programme offers a range of resources and support for schools. Launched in 2015, Create & Dance is a creative learning programme for key stage 1, 2, and 3 teachers that supports an inclusive approach to teaching dance and story-telling.

Part of the Royal Opera House’s free online Schools Site, the programme aims to “develop children’s understanding of dance and the wider curriculum, inspiring their creativity”. Usefully, teachers do not need previous dance knowledge to take part!” HTU

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

Dance specialist Kari Brooks is a Create & Dance artist with the Royal Opera House and first came across the programme while working independently at Broadclyst Primary School in Exeter, where she was working on a dance based on The Nutcracker with year 1 children.

She explained: “I’ve now explored many other ballets with children at school and have been amazed at how other non-specialist teachers have warmed to the programme and connected it effectively to other areas of the curriculum, including music, science, and literacy.” HTU

And the outcomes have been tremendous.

So far, using the resources as a stimulus for literacy has yielded a positive impact on pupils’ reading and writing progress. Teachers have used creative writing tasks incorporating the speaking, listening, and responding, and creating and shaping texts strands of the curriculum. HTU

“At Sing Education, we’re committed to empowering teachers through continuous professional development, with our music teachers recieving over 70 hours of in house training a year. In 2024, our bespoke train-the-trainer workshops will equip school staff with valuable teaching techniques, fostering improved morale, wellbeing, and enriched music education experiences for all.” – Bert Rotledge, Sing Education Director

A yellow post-it note with a drawing of a light bulb is pinned to a cork board
Children are sitting on the floor with their backs to the camera. Some children have their hands raised to answer a question. In the background a group of teachers is watching the lesson

Chemists Say the Darndest Things

Take David Weston, for example, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust and a former physics and maths teacher. David’s illustrious career has also included chairing the Department for Education’s CPD expert group. 

Writing to his peers in the Royal  Society of Chemstry, he penned a thought piece entitled “Four Steps to Better CPD.” 

In it David shared his views on the characteristics of good CPD:

CPD needs to take the form of sustained projects, not one-offs

Research consistently shows us that isolated one-off briefings are not only insufficient for this, they may be actively problematic. Teachers will tend to pick out the familiar elements of what they hear, downplay the unfamiliar and re-frame new ideas within their existing understanding. The effect of this is that new practices are just minor tweaks and genuine change never takes place.

The best CPD focuses on subjects and on curriculum

Both at primary and at secondary level, non-subject-specific training for teachers appears to have little benefit for pupils unless teachers have sufficient time to work out how to translate it into the topics they teach.

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

For genuine impact, teachers need external expertise, support and challenge

With budgets under pressure, there’s a huge temptation for schools to say ‘we have all the expertise we need internally’. However, evidence suggests this is misguided. Assumptions go unchallenged, shared expectations remain entrenched, teachers are not given insights into surprising approaches from outside their institutions. The ideal expert works across multiple schools, taps into regional and national networks of expertise and is able to bring fresh thinking into schools. 

Teachers need to be in charge of evaluating their own CPD

Less successful CPD focuses on getting teachers to focus on learning new practices and demonstrating them to colleagues. More successful CPD gets teachers to think about curriculum aims and check whether new practices are helping students achieve them more successfully. CPD is much less about teachers appearing to perform better in classrooms and much more about empowering teachers to solve problems and apply teaching tools in their classrooms. RSC

Sing Education - CPD Is In Our DNA

In Sing Education’s opinion, to confidently teach music, primary educators need a combination of:

  • expanded curricular training at the PGCE/NQT level
  • ongoing CPD to keep their skills up-to-date and
  • a network of mentors, resources, and “stretch” teaching opportunities to give them a strong framework for long-time career success. 

Note we didn’t include Masters-level training in performance nor an undergraduate degree in digital composition.

As a comprehensive music education service provider, we offer a 360° wraparound peripatetic music service to our partner schools. This includes several strands of career support and ongoing music training opportunities, such as staff CPD and wellbeing workshops.

Our special CPD trainings are designed to address the professional development needs of classroom teachers. 

These sessions complement our regular music teaching practice and provide substantial benefits, particularly in embedding strategies for and building confidence in whole school music. Our partner schools greatly appreciate the added value these sessions provide.

We also offer bespoke train-the-trainer workshops, tailored to the needs of each partner school. 

These programmes can take various forms, but their primary aim is to enhance the music education capabilities of the school staff.

In addition to CPD trainings, we offer wellbeing workshops where we teach music to the staff. These workshops have proven to be extremely successful in boosting staff morale and wellbeing within schools.

Our services are designed to support career growth, foster a positive school environment, and improve school and pupil performance through great curricular music programming.

Download your copy of our guide, “Hire, Train, Retain – Building a Best-In Class Primary Music Team”

To learn more about Sing Education, including how our music provision, online instrumental lessons and at-home learning resources contribute to a well-rounded music curriculum, please visit

About Us

Founded in 2014 and serving more than 28,000 children each week, Sing Education is a first class provider of primary school music education. Focusing on high-quality, singing-led tuition, we deliver a complete solution for schools which includes teacher recruitment, training and management, bespoke curricular resources and educational consultancy services. 

Through music lessons, singing assemblies, choirs, after school clubs and instrumental tuition, Sing Education works with students from Nursery right through to Year 6. Our core philosophy is that “Every Child Has A Voice,” and, as educators active in the classroom, our directors and teachers know firsthand how much young learners benefit from exciting, rewarding music education. 

Sing Education currently partners with schools throughout Greater London and Kent, as well as Yorkshire and the Humber. 

Not yet on the list? Please enquire about our expansion plans for additional areas we will serve during the 2023-24 academic year.

#SingEducation #PrimarySchoolMusicEducation #EveryChildHasAVoice



  1. The Create & Dance Programme Headteacher Update HTU
  2. How NPQs can enhance professional development in your school Education Executive EDX
  3. Four steps to better CPD Royal Society of Chemistry RSC
  4. Teaching the teachers – introducing music into your classroom simply and confidently BBC Teach BBC
  5. Independent review of teachers’ professional development in schools: phase 1 findings Ofsted OFS
  6. Standard for teachers’ professional development DfE DFE
A female music teacher is conducting a primary school choir

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