Continuing Professional Development (CPD) frameworks for English language teachers

The British Council, Cambridge English and EAQUALS provide an overview of their continuing professional development frameworks.

The British Council, Cambridge English and EAQUALS provide an overview of their continuing professional development frameworks.

Why is it useful to have a professional development framework?

Other professions have used frameworks to create well-established definitions of expertise, measurable outcomes and greater accountability. In education it is important that teachers can take control of their own development priorities. A shared understanding of the key skills, knowledge and behaviours that have been shown to contribute to effective teaching at a variety of levels and in diverse contexts is helpful in achieving this. Several frameworks for language teaching have been developed over the years. National governments have also developed frameworks of standards for teachers of any subject. The development of the three frameworks outlined below took into account several of these earlier initiatives.

What principles do the British Council, EAQUALS and Cambridge English frameworks have in common?

  • They focus on the positive, i.e. what teachers can do, not what they can’t do.
  • They are not linear scales to evaluate overall competence. Each framework has different categories, which allow for a non-linear development overall as the process of learning to teach is not a linear accrual of various teaching competences.
  • They generate a profile of where the teacher is at a given point in time, and indicate which competences they might wish to develop in the future.
  • For any individual as well as within teams of teachers, development is likely to be jagged, and not uniform, across the different areas and competences. It is likely that teachers, even experienced teachers, will be good at some things and less effective at others, and that individual teacher profiles will change as responsibilities evolve and new challenges arise.
  • The frameworks are easy to understand and to use.
  • They are primarily developmental tools, and are intended to support ongoing teacher development.

How CPD frameworks can be used

It is important to note that the characteristics of an effective teacher will depend on a number of factors, e.g. the educational context, the type of class that is being taught, the institution in which the teacher is working, the kind of students etc. Teaching competence is therefore always context and culture specific, meaning that teaching techniques need to fit and support a specific context.

The three frameworks

1. The Cambridge English Teaching Framework

The Cambridge English Teaching Framework has been designed to encapsulate the key knowledge and skills needed for effective teaching at a variety of stages and in different contexts. It aims to:
  • help teachers to identify where they are in their professional career
  • help teachers and their employers to think about where to go next and identify development activities to get there.
The framework has five main categories, with each of these categories broken down further, making a total of 36 framework components. The framework is also organised according to four stages of teacher competency: Foundation; Developing; Proficient; Expert. 
The framework is underpinned by evidence from the extensive written records of teacher assessments from around the world which Cambridge English Language Assessment has access to, and has gone through empirical validation. These include assessors’ reports of lesson observations on pre-service (CELTA) and in-service (ICELT and Delta) courses, as well as detailed background documents in the form of assignments (CELTA and ICELT) and portfolios of work (ICELT and Delta) which demonstrate the processes that teachers go through when planning and reflecting on their teaching. This unique resource has provided detailed descriptions of classroom practice at different stages of teachers’ careers. Equally importantly, these assessment reports reflect the realities of teaching and learning in many different contexts, which are in turn reflected in the design of the framework.
Professional development from Cambridge English, including teaching qualifications and short, online CPD courses and resources, are mapped to the framework so that once teachers have placed themselves on it, they can find the resources they need to help them develop. The framework, and accompanying Teacher Development Tracker, is available to institutions to map their professional development to and enable their teachers to choose the most appropriate development activities.
Visit the Cambridge English Teaching Framework web pages.

2. The British Council CPD framework

The British Council CPD framework provides a description of the professional practices of state school primary and secondary teachers relevant to all curriculum subjects. It helps teachers evaluate their own teaching knowledge and skills, and identify pathways for professional development relevant to their own needs and contexts. It provides governments, ministries and other organisations with a guide to the skills and knowledge teachers need, models of effective CPD, and the CPD resources to enable them to develop the quality of teaching in education systems. The CPD framework can form the basis for developing country-specific CPD frameworks for state school teachers.
The British Council CPD framework consists of 12 professional practices covering the range of knowledge and skills a teacher needs. Each professional practice is described in more detail by a list of ‘elements’. Teachers can evaluate themselves according to four stages of development.
These stages represent the teacher’s knowledge and skills in specific professional practices and elements. A set of modular CPD resources mapped to the CPD framework provides teachers with pathways for development based on their needs. 
The British Council CPD framework is a key part of the British Council’s approach to working with governments on the professional development of teachers – an approach called ‘Teaching for Success’.
Visit the British Council CPD framework web pages on TeachingEnglish.

3. The European Profiling Grid (EPG)

The European Profiling Grid (EPG) started life as the EAQUALS Profiling Grid, developed in 2005–2006 by Brian North and Galya Mateva as a tool for profiling the teams of teachers working within EAQUALS-accredited centres. The current EPG is the result of intensive work during a two-year project co-funded by the European Commission. Its aim was to provide a multilingual tool to support language teacher development and training and thus enhance the quality of language learning, and aid career development and mobility among language teachers. Eleven partner institutions, including EAQUALS, the British Council, the Goethe-Institut, Instituto Cervantes, CIEP France and Optima Bulgaria, developed a pilot version, tested five language versions of this among teachers, teacher trainers and managers, and used the results to produce the final version, an online interactive version, the e-Grid, and a User Guide.
The main uses of the EPG are for teacher self-assessment, often complemented by assessments by trainers and managers, and discussion of the two assessments. The following is a typical example of implementation in an EAQUALS-accredited institution:
  1. Teachers assess themselves against the descriptors in one or more sections of the EPG.
  2. In a review meeting, the self-assessments are discussed with a manager who knows the teacher’s work, and possibly amended.
  3. The outcomes are recorded in individual CPD logs, together with personal professional
  4. development objectives.
  5. The process is repeated each year and the log is revised or added to.
The EAQUALS Framework for Language Teacher Training and Development (the EAQUALS TD Framework), is related to the EPG but has more detailed descriptors to enable language teachers to assess their competences in greater depth. It has also been used to map the contents of training modules, for example those offered by the Oxford Teachers’ Academy (OUP).
Visit the EPG web pages.
Watch an EnglishAgenda webinar recording about the EPG.

Contact us

We would be delighted to hear from anyone who is using these frameworks or is interested in discussing research proposals for their use.

Below is a downloadable document about the three frameworks.

Research and insight

Browse fascinating case studies, research papers, publications and books by researchers and ELT experts from around the world.

See our publications, research and insight