The Early Career Framework, effective in England since September 2021, has been given a mixed reception. As a reformed approach to the induction of Newly Qualified Teachers – who are now referred to as Early Career Teachers – it is taking some getting used to, even though it has the potential to improve the experiences of those new to the profession.
There is no doubt that a teacher’s transition into the profession is a crucially important time in their career. Being treated fairly and being given access to all the support, training and mentoring that will secure a safe passage to being a fully-fledged teacher are all essential. If we skimp and save at this stage, the chances of losing teachers who are new to the profession can only increase.
The ECF promises much. The rights and entitlements of ECTs are underpinned in statutory guidance. There is some flexibility in that there is no time limit on how long after gaining QTS that induction through the ECF must be started. There is also no limit on how long it takes to complete it. However, induction must now take place over two years instead on one year and ECTs are now entitled to a reduced timetable (5%) in year two of induction as well as 10% in year one.
To generate more consistency in induction for new teachers, all programmes will include content on behaviour management, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and professional behaviours. Eight standards form the core of the ECF. While this ensures coverage of important themes for every teacher, including subject and curriculum knowledge, progress, and assessment, there is a risk of overlap with great quality initial teacher education and training, so progression must be built into induction.
For ECT Molly Keyworth, who teaches in South Yorkshire, the ECF has not turned out to be a wholly positive experience. I spoke to her about her experiences.
EH: What have been your experiences of the ECF so far?
MK: I have found that the blocks have too closely mirrored that of the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Framework which has meant that repetition has felt like a waste of time. The additional PPAs are useful, as planning and admin time is taking some time to complete but then the online platform is extremely time consuming and does not benefit my teaching experience.”
EH: It seems that there needs to be a far more forensically focused use of time for ECT induction. How do you feel about that?
MK: Crucially, ECTs need time to observe and to be observed so that they can encounter a variety of teaching styles, classroom management techniques and to see pupils in other subjects. The mentor meeting is the most beneficial to reflect and implement, but, again, that mirrors ITT.
EH: Not all ECTs have found the Early Career Framework to be an effective introduction to the teaching profession. Some feel that term one should be more focused as an introduction. Is this something you agree with based on your experience?
MK: Yes, I believe that term one as an ECT should be an introduction with a reduced timetable and time to get to see the whole school and how their culture is implemented. This, of course, means that additional staffing will be required initially. I believe the ECT should be introduced as the sole teacher of the class but having an additional member of staff in the room periodically would benefit initial routines and systems. By Christmas, the ECT will have gained an insight and confidence into the school culture and their learners.
EH: How about the balance between training and induction. In your experience, does that feel about right?
MK: I think that the ITT year should be 2 years and ECT should be 1, all at the same school. A school should employ and ensure that you have a minimum of a 3-year contract to benefit from the profession and experience gained: to see results and make changes.
EH: What has this process of induction taught you as an Early Career Teacher?
MK: This process has taught me that teaching cannot be taught; it is acquired. Whether that be through ranking hours, gaining planning and implementation experience that is relevant to the ECT’s progress plan would be more successful. I feel that I am jumping through statutory hoops for the sake of ticking a box as opposed to developing myself as a successful subject specialist. One thing that you are definitely not taught in your ITT year is about the amount of admin required! This is extortionate and takes up the most time as it is self-taught. More emphasis on understanding data, liaising with home, and creating mid-term plans is needed to ensure effective and efficient classroom teaching.
EH: From your perspective, what are your concerns? What could change for the better?
MK: Whilst I do understand the pandemic has impacted trainee teachers’ experience, I believe the ECF is halting individualism and subject specific CPD by generalising and recapping prior knowledge. As discussed above, a 3-year paid guarantee would allow prospective teachers to learn to teach, develop as professionals and have time to implement their acquired skills.
Who can help?
If you are struggling in any way with your time as an Early Career Teacher, there are several sources of support:
- Teacher Support is there for you 24/7. Call them on tel:+448000562561 or visit: Education Support, supporting teachers and education staff
- Your union will be a source of support if you are experiencing difficulties with induction. Most have helplines you can call.
- There is a wealth of information, advice and guidance here on Eteach.
- Early career framework - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- ECF induction and training: additional information for early career teachers - Manage training for early career teachers (education.gov.uk)
- ECF induction and training: additional information for mentors - Manage training for early career teachers (education.gov.uk)
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world. Elizabeth has also taught on education courses in HE and presented at national and international conferences.