In the 21st Century, a broad range of skills and knowledge are required by learners and teachers to survive in a competitive society. This brings rapid development and changes within teaching and learning systems across the world and in China. 

In China, reforms in curriculum, teaching and assessment demand an upgrading of teachers’ practical skills in the classroom to better enable the learning process and outcomes. In order to achieve this, teacher training programmes have been planned at different levels, e.g. national, provincial, municipal, district and school levels, to allow teachers opportunities for professional development. However, what kind of teacher training planning or teacher development systems address the real needs of teachers? Do we have an effective continuing professional development (CPD) framework in place to guide the planning of teachers’ professional development initiatives? How do we measure the success and impact of teacher development initiatives? Do we get value for money? Can teacher training really impact learner outcomes? And what role can technology play in supporting CPD initiatives?

With these questions in mind, the British Council and the Ministry of Education in China will be co-organising a CPD training programme for in-service teacher education planners, decision makers in the education authorities and key professional players in teacher development. The purpose of this symposium is to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to share their challenges and possible solutions in relation to teacher development in China, and agree shared principles for effective in-service teacher development. 

  • Education agenda, needs and challenges of teacher development in China 
  • CPD frameworks and their importance to teacher development 
  • How CPD informs and guides teacher development, and case studies 
  • Evidencing the impact of outcomes and the impact of successful CPDs 

Whilst the subject focus will be on English, it is our aim that many of the sessions will have a broader application to a more general CPD for all teachers.

By sharing and discussing our experiences, our aim is to better inform the decisions and planning of teacher development initiatives in China in order to better support the government educational reform agenda.  


Individuals in key decision-making positions in teacher development across China, who are:

  • National or provincial level education authorities who have a role in planning teacher development
  • National or regional professional teacher development bodies or universities who have a role in designing and carrying out teacher development initiatives 
  • National or regional institutes of education sciences and researchers who implement CPD systems in their regions 


Objectives of the symposium

  • Capacity building in teacher development initiative planning
  • Awareness raising of the necessity of setting up higher-level CPD frameworks and guidelines, CPD models and systems, measurement of the impact of successful CPDs and teacher development initiatives 
  • Awareness and skills enhancement in terms of measurement of change in class-room based teaching and learning 
  • Productive partnership between the UK and China for the betterment of teacher education: consultancy, design and delivery, evaluation around CPD frameworks and successful teacher development.


Follow up UK or Overseas Visit Programme (One week in March/April 2016 -to be confirmed)

A second leg involving a structured UK visit programme is under consideration for interested key stakeholders (educational decision makers and leaders in professional development bodies) in charge of large scale teacher development in China.

As a result of the China-based symposium, interested provinces, which have a vested interest in budgeting and planning further teacher development initiatives, would be invited to attend the visit programme in the UK or overseas in 2016 to further the discussion. 

The purpose of the overseas visit programme is to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to understand international policies, practices and how challenges are managed around teacher development. Visits would help the Chinese educators to bring in international perspectives in the development of CPD framework and systems for their teachers, which support sustainability and impact achievement. 

“Evidence suggests that the quality of teaching in the school has the most influence on learner achievement. If that is the case, then the effort to improve teaching is crucial for sustained improvement in learner achievement. It is therefore essential to understand and to share examples of practice in continuing professional development.

Continuing professional development should be relevant to individual teachers’ needs, but it should also meet the needs of the school in which the teacher works, and of the teacher’s wider role in achieving the educational objectives of the school system and country. As teachers continue through their careers they will need guidance on new skills and professional understanding. It is important that the systems are in place to provide these programmes and to support the teachers’ implementation of them in the classroom.”

          Tim Phillips, Head, Teacher Development, English and Exams, British Council
     Innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers