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Start as you mean to go on

Your career entry profile puts you in control of your professional development right from day one.

Brainchild of the Teacher Training Agency, the Career Entry Profile (CEP) has recently undergone some changes in response to feedback from those using it this year. It is basically a framework for target-setting and action planning for professional development in your induction year, and it could be argued that one of its most important aims is to help your school give you structured, relevant support.

Jill Staley of the Teacher Training Agency is keen to express the purposes of the CEP, saying that it "helps the newly qualified teacher and their induction tutor to focus together on the newly qualified teacher's objectives and to identify the support that will be most useful and timely in the individual teaching context." She says it "provides a tool for NQTs to become actively engaged in their own professional development planning right from the start of their new careers".

Yet the CEP has been criticised by some as incongruous with the current climate of induction in some schools, so that it is stowed away in a cupboard some time in September never to surface again, or - worse - is completed retrospectively. Perhaps such schools have their own version of the CEP - if not, they will have to seriously rethink whether they want to take on new entrants to the profession. With the introduction of a statutory induction period for all new teachers from September 1999, the overall quality of induction offered to new teachers looks set to go through its biggest shake-up yet, and the CEP is likely to play a central role.

Perhaps there is a slight expectation that today's new teachers be agents of change, in an attempt to create and drive a culture of self-responsibility for professional development from day one. If so, the vehicle being provided, at least for the first stages of this journey, is the CEP, and the changes that have been made to it will almost certainly mean a smoother trip.

The new version of the CEP has dropped its original "section C", which focused on the new teacher's strengths and development needs in preparation for taking up a teaching post.

Section C is now an extended version of the part concerned with agreed action planning, allowing for more detail. The targets set in this section can be reviewed and reset throughout the year, in response to achievements. This, says Jill Staley, is "to make professional development planning more manageable for NQTs, to ensure that they gain the maximum benefit from their induction". It will help new teachers to "recognise their progression and achievements". All too often these become lost, she says, "as newly qualified teachers focus on the areas of professional practice they are concerned to improve".

When school and new teacher use the CEP collaboratively it can help in many ways. Get to know this document when you receive it from your initial teacher training provider. Find out what the local arrangements are for its completion and monitoring and use it to focus on your needs. There are many teachers out there asking: "Why couldn't we have had one of these?'" More information on Career Entry Profiles can be obtained from the Teacher Training Agency's website:

Why have a CEP?

* It provides the chance to get actively involved in your professional development, incorporating your own aspirations. The NQT gains more control. Aim to think about processes as well as outcomes * You and your induction tutor can identify who will be involved at each stage of your induction, the resources required, success criteria, support needed, and other matters. This could strengthen your bargaining position over training courses * It can help you chart your progress, not least by recognising the transition from training to employment. It may play a part in future appraisal * It sets expectations not only of you, but also of other school and authority personnel. Many NQTs place unrealistic expectations on themselves * It encourages you to look at short, medium and long-term goals within a flexibly structured framework. Use it to continue sound, reflective practices * It could reduce bureaucracy, by focusing on one document * Because it enables you to express your development needs, it helps to ensure that they will be met. Otherwise your needs may be overlooked as daily tasks and challenges preoccupy you

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