I can remember my first year in teaching in ridiculous detail considering it was so long ago. It was after the probation period had been dropped and before the introduction of any kind of induction period, and there was a huge element of “sink or swim” about it. While I loved it, the experience was a powerful initiation into an incredibly demanding career. Yes, there was someone in the role of “mentor”, but very little happened by way of mentoring apart from the occasional “it does get better!” thrown across the corridor every now and then. It was very obvious that something needed to change for new teachers who were in at the deep end, so the introduction of the induction period was welcome for those teachers who qualified after me.
The initial aim was to create a more level playing field, so that all new teachers received a certain standard of care and development in their early careers. Naturally there were still discrepancies across the nation. Some new teachers were brilliantly supported and went on to thrive in their careers, while others were still left to their own devices for much of the time, leading to additional challenges and unnecessary stress.
Fast forward to today and the induction period is changing yet again. From September 2021, instead of a one-year induction period, new teachers will be following the Early Career Framework. This means it will be a statutory requirement for schools inducting teachers who are new to the profession to offer a two-year experience of great professional learning to ease them into the job.
The professional development opportunities given to these new teachers over that two-year period should be based on what the Early Career Framework outlines as the best evidence of what teachers should know and be able to do in five key areas: behaviour management; pedagogy; curriculum; assessment; and professional behaviours. School-based mentors should support this process of putting evidence to practice in the classroom. There are to be two formal assessments – one at the end of each induction year, combined with unassessed progress reviews in each of the terms without a formal assessment.
The quality of a new teacher’s early professional learning can make or break their experience in the teaching profession. Gone are the days when new teachers had to make do with a quick chat with a mentor in the staffroom every now and then to see how things were going. Or at least, those days should be gone! Support these days should be targeted, high quality and part of a programme that will see teachers move from beginner to proficient. This two-year induction should build on rather than repeat or replace what has been covered in initial teacher education, and if it is to be of greatest value to the new teacher, it should support individual needs based in experience, as and when they arise.
Schools may decide how they wish to support new teachers through their induction. The DfE has created three possible routes:
- DfE-funded training provider who will design and deliver induction based on the Early Career Framework for schools
- Freely-available DfE accredited materials to help schools to deliver their own induction
- Design and deliver own induction programme based on the Early Career Framework
If your school will be welcoming newly qualified teachers in September, here’s what you need to know now:
- The DfE has pointed to the findings of the Education Endowment Foundation based on the pilot of the Early Career Framework as being useful guides: integrate the framework into school processes; allow early career teachers time for autonomy and self-study; allow mentors time to get to know the framework and the available supporting materials.
- It makes sense to ensure that early career teachers build on the knowledge and skills they acquired during their initial teacher education, as this is evidence informed and anchored in experience in the classroom.
- Whatever early career teachers cover in their two-year induction it needs to be academically balanced. This is about supporting the development of excellent professionals as they launch their careers.
- There still needs to be day to day support as part of a wider professional team within the school. This is about nurturing, building, caring and helping to launch sustainable careers.
Induction should be a time of great professional excitement and enthusiasm. It is a time to utilise the skills, knowledge, reflections and understanding gained from high quality initial teacher education, and build on their experiences as they move on to the next stage. Let’s support early career teachers to pursue enjoyable and fulfilling careers working with children, where they encounter a broad range of research, evidence and experiences, and grow in their confidence and expertise in the profession.
Find out more
- The Early Career Framework can be found here: Early Career Framework - Core Induction Programme (education.gov.uk)
- Induction for early career teachers Induction for early career teachers (England) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Early Career Framework policy paper Early career framework - GOV.UK (www.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.