Continuous professional development

To implement PW–PBS, it is fundamental to promote continuous professional development

Key Points: Continuous professional development (CPD), in addition to solid initial education and training, is essential for the successful implementation of Programme-Wide Positive Development Support (PW–PBS) in early childhood education and care (ECEC). CPD ensures high-quality education and support for children. As our understanding of child development evolves, ECEC professionals need to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices. CPD empowers ECEC professionals with the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to adapt to diverse learning needs, establish positive relationships, use innovative pedagogical strategies, and create nurturing environments. Participation in CPD programmes keeps professionals informed about trends in research, allowing them to implement new strategies as well as the systems necessary to promote young children’s socioemotional learning and to prevent and mitigate challenging behaviours (please see our PBSECEC Key Resources). An in-depth understanding of PW–PBS principles and strategies, a common understanding among the ECEC team members, and specific teaching skills are required to ensure the successful implementation of the PW– PBS approach with high fidelity. As a result, investing in CPD benefits the development of young children, thus ensuring a solid foundation for their wellbeing, growth, and success.

Voices of professionals and educational stakeholders from PBS–ECEC

“I consider it crucial that education and training are the starting point for everything. Without trained personnel, it’s challenging to implement any programme effectively, so it’s naturally a very significant recommendation.” (X., Cyprus)

“Nowadays, educators in ECEC face several complex challenges in their classrooms (…). These challenges require them to possess a diverse toolkit of strategies and methodologies to address them effectively. CPD and training in approaches such as PW–PBS support them to enhance their skills and provide them with the appropriate tools to address these challenges.” (K., Greece)

“Training is fundamental (…), we must provide time for training, for professionals to have the opportunity to debate these issues and reach a common ideal (…), to satisfy the need to review, adjust strategies and share, at various times. Educators must feel secure in their pedagogical approaches, or these will not work. Ensuring that we are all (…) on the same page.” (M., Portugal)

What can be done to make a difference?

Strategy: Promote and fund initial teacher education as well as accessible professional development opportunities focusing on socioemotional learning and managing challenging behaviours.


  • Develop comprehensive national strategies that emphasise the importance of continuous learning and development, and support an effective training system for professionals.
  • Ensure that pre-service teacher education includes core topics such as child development, SEL frameworks, and effective strategies for fostering children’s socioemotional learning.
  • Foster collaborative partnerships between organisations dedicated to teacher education and relevant professional groups and associations to align programmes with professional profiles and recent advancements in the relevant literature.
  • Allocate resources for programmes focused on promoting SEL and PW–PBS, prioritising time for professional development and collaboration.
  • Provide regular training on PW–PBS principles, systems, and practices to ensure that professionals remain skilled and knowledgeable in implementing the approach effectively and incorporate training sessions into work schedules or implement flexible hours to accommodate educators’ participation.
  • Emphasise the availability of online training courses and webinars and establish communication channels and guidelines to facilitate the sharing of information and resources. (Visit the PBSECEC eLearning course for more information)

Strategy: Support collaborative learning communities, valuing and promoting evidence-based practices that strengthen ECEC systems and settings as a whole


  • Foster collaborative partnerships between educational institutions, organisations, and early childhood centres to facilitate the delivery of professional development programmes, workshops, or conferences in local communities, and evaluate the effectiveness of programmes.
  • Provide funding for workshops, conferences, coaching, and mentoring opportunities, thus alleviating the financial burden of training.
  • Encourage the use of diversified methodologies (e.g. observation and peer feedback) and promote the creation of spaces and opportunities for professionals to share experiences, best practices, and research-based strategies to enhance socioemotional development, facilitating ongoing dialogue and exchange of ideas.
  • Invest in research and evaluation efforts to assess the impact of professional development programmes, as data-driven insights can inform the refinement of policies and practices in the future.

What are the expected benefits and impact?

  1. Investing in CPD enhances the quality of early childhood education by incorporating evidenceinformed practices, increasing professional competence and confidence among educators, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, and ultimately improving child outcomes.
  2. On-site training in PW–PBS provides a shared vision and purpose among professionals and helps develop strategies that need to be implemented as well as a common language in each centre, involving and empowering all professionals. It contributes to changing less-than-optimal language use, routines, and behaviours that persist in ECEC practices, as training favours innovation and motivates professionals to collaborate in team improvement efforts. Online training has the potential to include diverse professionals from different regions and services.
  3. These policies contribute to the increase in ECEC professionals’ job satisfaction and wellbeing and to the creation of better conditions for promoting children’s SEL. By prioritising socioemotional development in ECEC, professionals can help children develop essential life skills, mental health, and overall wellbeing, thus playing a fundamental role in shaping their success in various life domains.
  4. Beneficiaries of such policies include professionals, children, families, ECEC centres, and the education system as a whole. When PW–PBS is embraced at the municipality, region, or country level, it may demonstrate a commitment to fostering children´s positive behaviour and socioemotional development across a broader educational landscape.

    What practices show the way forward?

    A bottom-up training programme for ECEC teachers

    Before PBS–ECEC implementation, ECEC professionals had the opportunity to discuss with an external coach and internal trainer the needs regarding child behaviour and socioemotional development using a diagnostic questionnaire. This helped the leadership team to develop an action plan. The action plan was used for guiding activities in the centre, but also for prioritising professionals’ needs regarding professional development and training in order to address such issues and promote children’s SEL. The staff then received training and support to address daily challenges and make decisions based on the agreed practices and strategies. These efforts implied an investment in human resources by adapting the professional development programme of the PW–PBS approach to the specificities and challenges of each centre. This effort was made in collaboration with the staff, which helped them feel a sense of ownership and competence in the new approach, for which they were being trained.

    Supporting evidence and resources

    Key Resources

    Needs assessment in four countries

    Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Barros, S., Araújo, S., Santos, M., & Sousa, M. (2023). PBS–ECEC transnational consolidated report: Research findings for developing the guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood education and care.

    A Guide for using PW-PBS in ECEC

    Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, S., Santos, M., Sousa, M., & Barros, S. (2023). PBS–ECEC guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood and care in European countries.


    Impact assessment study & recommendations

    Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, A., Santos, M., Oliveira, V., Barros, S., Otero-Mayer, A., Michaelidou, V., Agathokleous, A., Krousorati, K., & Grammatikopoulos, V. (2023). Report of the PBS–ECEC impact assessment study and practice recommendations. Result 3: Transnational Report.

    Additional Resources

    Barros, S., Oliveira, V. H., Santos, M., Araújo, S., Otero-Mayer, A., Michaelidou, V.,

    O´Brien, M., Szproch, A., Krousorati, K., Agathokleous, A., & Grammatikopoulos V. (2023).

    Empowering early childhood professionals: A European project on Programme-Wide Positive

    Behaviour Support developed in 4 countries. In L. G. Chova, C. G. Martínez, & J. Lees (Eds), EDULEARN23 proceedings: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies; July 3rd-5th, 2023; Palma, Spain (pp. 6519-6526).

    Cefai, C., Downes, P., & Cavioni., V. (2021). A formative, inclusive, whole school approach to the assessment of social and emotional education in the EU (NESET report). Publications Office of the European Union.

    Cefai, C., Bartolo, P. A., Cavioni, V., & Downes, P. (2018). Strengthening social and emotional education as a core curricular area across the EU: A review of the international evidence (NESET II report). Publications Office of the European Union.

    DeMulder, E. K., Denham, S. A., Schmidt, M., Mitchell, J. N., & Quraishi, S. (2021). Preschool PATHS curriculum effects on social emotional learning and executive functions. Early Education and Development, 32(6), 791-811.

    Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., Zinsser, K., & Wyatt, T. (2014). How preschoolers’ social–emotional learning predicts their early school success: Developing theory‐promoting, competency‐based assessments. Infant and Child Development, 23(4), 426-454.

    European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2021). Teachers in Europe: Careers, development and wellbeing (Eurydice report). Publications Office of the European Union.

    Fox, L., & Lentini, R. (2016). Positive behavior support in early childhood. Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

    Grammatikopoulos, V., Gregoriadis, A., Zachopoulou, E. (2018). Self-evaluation as a means to improve practice: An alternative approach for the professional development of early childhood educators. In A. Gregoriadis, V. Grammatikopoulos, & E. Zachopoulou (Eds.), Professional development and quality in early childhood education: Comparative European perspectives (pp. 125145). Palgrave MacMillan.

    Grammatikopoulos, V., Gregoriadis, A., & Zachopoulou, E. (2015). Evaluation of early childhood education environments and professional development: Current practices and implications. In O. N. Saracho (Ed.). Contemporary perspectives on research in testing and evaluation in early childhood education (pp. 153-169). Information Age Publishing.

    Jones, S. M., & Bouffard, S. M. (2012). Social and emotional learning in schools: From programs to strategies. Social Policy Report, 26(4), 1-33. Loizou, E. (2009). In-service early childhood teachers reflect on their teacher training program: Reconceptualizing the case of Cyprus. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 30(3), 195-209.

    Loizou, E. (2018). Professional development and impact of the early change project: Reflections from the Cypriot Example. In A. Gregoriadis, V. Grammatikopoulos, & E. Zachopoulou (Eds.), Professional

    development and quality in early childhood education: Comparative European perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan.  

    OECD (2020). Building a high-quality early childhood education and care workforce: Further results from the Starting Strong Survey 2018. OECD Publishing.

    McMillan, D. J., McConnell, B., & O’Sullivan, H. (2016). Continuing professional development – why bother? Perceptions and motivations of teachers in Ireland. Professional development in education, 42(1), 150-167.

    National Association for the Education of Young Children (2019). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8.

    National Association for the Education of Young Children (2021). Position statement on teacher preparation and professional development: A joint statement of NAEYC and the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.

    National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2004). Young children develop in an environment of relationships: Working paper no. 1.

    Sala, A., Punie, Y., & Garkov, V. (2020). LifeComp: The European framework for personal, social and learning to learn key competence. Office of the European Union.

    Zachopoulou, E., Grammatikopoulos, V., & Gregoriadis, A. (2018). Early change: Description of a project for continuing professional development. In A. Gregoriadis, V. Grammatikopoulos, E.
    Zachopoulou (Eds.), Professional development and quality in early childhood education: Comparative European perspectives (pp. 59-82). Palgrave Macmillan