Early Career Framework: a guide for school leaders

With the implementation of the ECF due later this year, there are several important questions for leaders to be considering

Caroline Daly, Polly Glegg, Mark Hardman and Becky Taylor

trainee teacher

The Early Career Framework (ECF) aims to provide support for Early Career Teachers (ECTs) in all maintained schools in England from September 2021, as part of a new two-year induction model

The changes to statutory induction are extensive. In addition to the current 10 per cent timetable reduction in year one, there will be a 5 per cent reduction in year two. Mentor support for ECTs will be an entitlement in both years. 

Schools must ensure that ECTs engage with five ECF content areas – behaviour management, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and professional behaviours – each of which is linked with research evidence and aligned with the Teachers’ Standards. There is clearly a lot for schools to take on.


More on the Early Career Framework: 


The Department for Education has approved three options for schools to implement the ECF:

Full induction programme

A DfE-funded induction programme provided by one of six national suppliers, offering training and materials for ECTs and their mentors. The school commits to following the programme’s approach using the resources.

Core induction programme

Schools draw on the materials provided by the national suppliers to provide their own ECT and mentor training. Schools have responsibility for planning the implementation of the ECF and deciding how to use the resources.

School-based programme

Schools design and deliver their own ECF-based induction programme. Schools design their programme, ensuring ECTs’ entitlement to support and engagement with the ECF.

School leaders need to carefully weigh up how the options align with their school’s approach to learning and teaching and existing capacity to provide research-based professional learning for both mentors and ECTs. 

‘Is this ECF support programme right for this school?’

Deciding which option is best is complicated. School leaders have been advised by the DfE to find out ‘before September 2021’ about the options available to enable the new statutory requirements to be met. It is up to school leaders to choose the approach that best suits the needs of their early career teachers and mentors. We recommend that school leaders research thoroughly the details of the programmes available.

The Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research at UCL Institute of Education evaluated three pilot support programmes for the ECF in 2019-20. 

Leaders explained the factors that would be a major influence on their decisions about working with a programme of support for the ECF. A series of linked guides to implementing the ECF is available, based on the report:

A Guide for Implementation

A Guide for School Leaders and Induction Leads

A Guide for Mentors and Early Career Teachers

An ECF implementation plan

We recommend establishing an implementation team including a senior leader, the school induction lead and one or more mentors, to consider and address practical issues related to implementing the chosen approach to induction. This team also needs to consider what needs "de-implementing" in the school to avoid overload – activities, practices and habits that are superseded by the ECF.

1. Start as early as possible to develop your implementation plan.

2. Identify where there is overlap between your induction programme option and your school (or MAT or Local Authority) pre-existing provision for ECTs. Adapt activities to avoid duplication.

3. Ensure that mentors and ECTs have sufficient directed time allocated to enable full engagement with the programme, including attendance at induction events.

4. Assess your timetable and cover arrangements to ensure that mentors and ECTs can meet regularly during the school day and to ensure that a range of teaching can be observed.

5. If working with a supplier’s full induction programme, check compatibility of e-learning platforms with your school’s IT facilities and make any adjustments before the programme begins.

6. Consider how you will tailor your chosen programme to your school’s context.

7. Make the most of the opportunity to support mentor development and a whole-school culture of mentoring.

A free virtual event on 28 April hosted by the Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research at UCL Institute of Education will offer further guidance to implementing the ECF.

Caroline Daly, Polly Glegg, Mark Hardman and Becky Taylor are from the Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research at UCL Institute of Education

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