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First three years are most crucial

New teachers are less likely to drop out of the profession if they are offered early professional development, new research has revealed.

A study examining the impact of EPD on newly qualified teachers revealed that 59 per cent believed they were likely to still be teaching in five years' time.

By contrast, 70 per cent of those offered professional development training within the first three years of their careers said there was a strong likelihood that they would remain in the profession.

The report, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research, states: "The difference between the two samples' ratings was highly statistically significant. Considered in terms of the 96,000 teachers early in their careers in England, this difference of 11 percentage points might be seen to represent a sizeable number."

Researchers questioned more than 1,500 NQTs participating in the Government's pilot programme of early professional development, which was aimed at teachers in their second and third years, and was designed to prevent teacher drop-out.

The pilot ran in 12 local authorities between September 2001 and July 2004.

However, the Government subsequently ceased funding and abandoned it.

But more than three-quarters of teachers surveyed said that the training programme had had a considerable impact on their ability to do their job.

Many felt that their classroom skills had improved significantly and that pupils' learning had been enhanced as a result.

The report concluded: "The EPD scheme did not only benefit teachers, but... also the positive effects radiated outwards to those they taught and worked with."

Each pilot authority determined the administration of its own training scheme, so the content differed across all areas. But in every local authority, NQTs were involved in decisions regarding their professional development needs. Many newly qualified teachers found that this enabled them to enhance the contribution they made to school life. When questioned by researchers, their mentors agreed: 78 per cent believed that the training had had a considerable effect on their NQTs. This included the dissemination of new knowledge to other teachers, the adoption of whole-school initiatives, and an improvement in pupils' progress, leading to their determination to remain in the job.

The survey found that the training had a significant effect on teachers'

morale and well-being. It encouraged them to consider early on the direction in which they would like to see their careers develop.

The report stated: "Instilled with higher confidence levels, teachers reported having implemented new teaching practices and of being able to pursue their chosen career paths. These, in turn, helped teachers feel more content in their profession."

'The impacts of professional development for teachers early in their careers', by Megan Jones and Helen Moor, is available from the NFER northern office:

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