How the Early Career Framework has won hearts and minds

Helen Ward explains how ministers came to put early teacher training at the heart of the new recruitment strategy

Helen Ward

News article image

This week the need to support and develop teachers during their first years in the profession finally took its place at the centre of efforts to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis.

But it has been a long and twisting journey. Four years and three education secretaries ago, the situation looked very different.

Then, in 2015, the Department for Education appeared unable to acknowledge that there was a problem that needed addressing.

Instead, the government’s tactic seemed to be to tell heads, "Don’t panic!" – something which only fuelled alarm in schools, where it was felt that ministers were “out of touch”.

But others were more aware, and in October 2015 the Commons Education Select Committee launched an inquiry looking into whether there was a crisis in teacher recruitment.

With the inquiry underway, the then education secretary, Nicky Morgan, produced the Educational Excellence Everywhere White Paper, which included the idea of scrapping Qualified Teacher Status and replacing it with a “stronger, more challenging accreditation”.

But, by now, it wasn't just the select committee that had decided to look into the issue of teacher supply.

Keeping new teachers in the profession

The government was “woefully aloof” when it came to listening to concerns about teacher shortages, said the Commons Public Accounts Committee. 

The Department for Education responded that it already had a range of policies and recruitment initiatives – and more were coming through the White Paper.

But then, in July 2016, came the post-referendum reshuffle, and a key player arrived on the scene.

Enter Justine Greening, who replaced Morgan. The policies were rethought, and the White Paper largely went out of the window.

In February 2017, Greening made the declaration that there would be no end to QTS "on my watch" and a new course was set.

The Education Select Committee’s inquiry into teacher supply also reported back in February 2017.

It said that a greater emphasis should be placed on improving teacher retention, and recommended that this could be achieved by ensuring that teachers had high-quality, relevant training.

When Greening’s plans for keeping QTS were published in December 2017, they underlined her belief that early career development could promote recruitment and retention.

“Setting out a clearer offer of teacher development and career progression is an important part of improving the attractiveness of teaching as a profession,” the consultation stated. 

Come January 2018, another reshuffle.

Out went Greening and in came Damian Hinds, but the momentum was already gathering.

Two months later, Hinds said he would develop a teacher recruitment and retention strategy and when the QTS consultation response was published in May 2018, it was confirmed that new teachers would now have an early career framework for two years with mentoring and support.

In the months since, both Westminster and Whitehall have been consumed by Brexit, but despite the squall, the education secretary this week managed to bring the teacher retention and recruitment strategy, together with the Early Career Framework, safely into port.

Hinds has told Tes: “We owe it to those who choose to teach to ensure they have the right support to set them up for a long and fulfilling career in the classroom. That is what the Early Career Framework is designed to do.” 

And so while teacher CPD was once seen as a side issue, not as radical as School Direct or as powerful as spending £1 billion on bursaries, it has ended up at the “the heart” of the government's recruitment and retention strategy. 

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes. She tweets @teshelen

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

Latest stories