Teacherlab is the Education Foundation’s first  project and focuses on the need to rethink teacher’s professional development.

It was launched on the 16 December 2011 by Dr Elizabeth Sidwell CBE, Schools Commissioner, Department for Education.


In November 2010, the Department for Education’s Schools White Paper in England, stated that:

  • the best education systems in the world …make sure that teachers receive effective professional development throughout their career, with opportunities to observe and work with other teachers.
  • too much professional development involves compliance with bureaucratic initiatives rather than working with other teachers to develop effective practice.
  • Only 25 per cent of teachers report that they are regularly observed in classroom practice and two-thirds of all professional development is ‘passive learning’ – sitting and listening to a presentation.
  • In addition to teaching schools, we will work to support the professional development of all teachers.

Our Teacherlab project was a direct response to supporting the in-school professional development needs of all teachers across the UK. We created a prototype teacherlab in partnership with the principal and academy staff of Ormiston Sandwell Community Academy (OSCA) in the West Midlands to provide a focused and supportive environment for teachers.

The facility is an in–school tool to support the continuous professional development of teachers. Sitting at the heart of the school the TeacherLab provides an important development space that normally requires staff to travel off site to find a suitable facility. It is used actively by teachers to improve their practice and to test out new ways of teaching subjects across the curriculum. It allows the school to rapidly improve the skills of classroom teachers, acts as a tool for school improvement and has also assisted teachers in the process of thinking, prior to a major refurbishment of the academy.

Liz Sidwell said of the Teacherlab project via twitter (@Liz_Sidwell):

@EdnFoundation Teacher lab has high tech and chalk! Flexible space and resources to develop what works for our students. All engaged.

@EdnFoundation @OSCAtweets collaboration bringing research and expertise together in new teacher lab. Students and teachers benefit.

Ian Fordham, Co-founder of the Education Foundation and advisors to the project said

“TeacherLab is about re-thinking professional development for teachers and complements the english government’s teaching schools programme. The UK’s first TeacherLab underlines the importance of investing in teacher quality and we are delighted to be involved in this pioneering project.

We will now work with schools and other partners to set up a collaborative network of 12 TeacherLabs across the UK in 2012.