Research into support staff experiences of training and development

Client: TDA | NFER Contact: David Teeman

The remit of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) was enhanced in 2004 to include the training and development of the wider school workforce. This was further extended the following year when the agency was asked by government to take forward work focusing on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for the school workforce. Following this extension to the TDA’s role, a School Workforce Development Board (SWDB) was established. This is a sector-wide body, chaired by the TDA, to guide the Agency’s work on the training and development of support staff. Five months after it was established, the SWDB published an interim plan, Building the School Team (SWDB, 2005). This identified the Board’s three priorities for action: removing barriers that prevent the take up of training and development, improving the supply of training and development, and strengthening the quality of training and development. The SWDB monitored the delivery of activities contained within the plan and developed a three-year strategy for 2006/09, Developing People to Support Learning (SWDB, 2006).

In order to support the implementation of the three-year strategy, the TDA has commissioned a study to explore the training and development experiences of support staff in schools and to examine what they perceive to be their training and development needs. The findings from this study will inform the TDA’s planning, communications and training provision, and will also inform the work of the SWDB. The research is led by the NFER in collaboration with Ipsos MORI (Market and Opinion Research International).

Purpose and aims

The research strategy has been formulated to address the three key research aims:

Design and methods

To meet the research specification, the three-year research strategy comprises an ongoing desk study and large-scale telephone surveys of support staff in 2006 and 2008.

The desk study will inform the focus and content of the research and provide the context in which findings will be reported.

The telephone survey sample design will involve the same sample of schools in each year, and a cross-sectional sampling of support staff within these schools, so that change over time can be explored. The strategy for the selection of support staff will ensure that data is collected in relation to the different support staff roles and from different types of school (primary, secondary and special and potentially Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)). In all, 3,200 support staff will be interviewed by Ipsos MORI in 2006, and a further 3,200 in 2008.

The telephone survey will explore key issues with support staff relating to their training and development.

Project outcomes

Findings will be disseminated in an interim report (in 2007) and a final report (in 2009). These reports will inform the work of the TDA and the SWDB, and the final report will have a particular emphasis on change over time.

Proposed time scale: June 2006 — May 2009

NFER Project Code: STH


School Workforce Development Board (2005). Building the School Team: Our Plans for Support Staff Training and Development 2005-06 [online]. Available: [31 July, 2006].

School Workforce Development Board (2006). Developing People to Support Learning: a Skills Strategy for the Wider School Workforce 2006-09 [online]. Available: [31 July, 2006].