The cohort of teachers joining the profession this year have had the most extraordinary experiences, having to juggle the same online spaces and bubbled classrooms that experienced teachers did. Now, they have another change to face – from NQT to ECT.
The Early Career Framework (ECF) is being welcomed across the sector but what does it actually mean for new teachers and their schools?
WATCH: What you need to know about the Early Career Framework
The previous one-year NQT period has been extended to two years. Whilst this might worry some early career teachers (ECTs), it’s a great move. It recognises that new teachers need and deserve coaching, mentoring and support in their initial years of teaching.
Changes to the mentoring
So, who is going to do that? ECTs will have two key contacts: their mentor and their induction tutor. These roles are very different, but they should work closely together to almost pincer new teachers towards a successful induction. An induction tutor will formally assess the ECT at two points (essentially, the end of both academic years) against the Teachers’ Standards.
The role of the mentor is front-and-centre with the ECF; new teachers should be given plenty of opportunities to review their progress with their mentor in supportive and collegiate ways.
Workload must be at the forefront of every element of the ECT experience to ensure it has the impact on teacher retention that the profession needs. Mentors and induction tutors themselves should be supported by schools in understanding not just the requirements of the ECF but the skills of mentoring and coaching that are essential in giving ECTs the best possible start in the profession.
Why will the ECF be different?
The ECF is an opportunity for new teachers to “bed in” to the profession and be nurtured into their new roles. This framework is there to scaffold and support true growth. This is reflected in the time allocation afforded to new teachers. The 10 per cent timetable reduction stays in the first year and is then reduced to 5 per cent in the second year. Giving ECTs this additional breathing space is a prime opportunity to support them in becoming truly reflective practitioners in their first years of teaching.
ECTs are still given one opportunity to successfully complete their induction. The technical language around this in the document may sound worrying to new teachers, but it’s worth remembering that the two-year period offers much more opportunity for development and progress than the NQT year did.
Getting to grips with the framework
The framework isn’t foolproof but it provides schools and ECTs with plenty of space to work on development areas collegiately – the structure leaves no room for surprises, it’s all about effective communication and plenty of opportunities for it.
The pilot materials provided by Department for Education-approved institutions are clear, coherent and calm. They provide a solid pathway through key concepts to support schools in helping ECTs to revisit, consolidate and apply the key aspects of their initial teacher education.
This may be yet another first for the newest cohort of teachers to experience, but it certainly seems to be a very timely move for the better.
Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer of primary education at Edge Hill University. She tweets @Sarah__wright1