Many professions offer an induction period to allow a smooth transition from newbie to fully qualified professional. In education the transitional phase from trainee to fully qualified teacher is hugely important.
Professional learning is a continuous and lifelong process for teachers. However this early stage imparts novel knowledge, teaches practical classroom skills and improves overall proficiency.
Above all, it offers invaluable frontline action: the chance to be in a school setting with firsthand experience of the invigorating challenges and unparalleled joys of teaching.
Now the Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) infrastructure has been updated, with new guidance shared by the UK government.
There is a fresh focus on what’s billed as Induction for Early Career Teachers (ECTs). So let’s take a look at what this means for anyone entering education right now.
The new induction for ECTs – what is it all about?
Essentially, anyone who has attained qualified teacher status (QTS) and is employed by a school in England needs to complete an ECT induction to a satisfactory standard.
There is an important caveat to this. Although the induction period can still be implemented in the following settings, there is no legal rule to complete the induction if you teach in Further Education, academies, free schools or British Schools Overseas.
This induction stage can be viewed as an all-important stepping stone in a teacher’s career. It is a two-year hopping point that takes you from being a trainee teacher all the way to that coveted full or part-time job in education.
Ultimately, it should provide a solid foundation for ECTs by equipping them with all of the necessary aids and tools to be an effective and successful teacher.
The government guidance also notes that the induction programme should fully support the ECT, as well as provide them with the necessary training to ensure they can demonstrate their performance against the Teachers’ Standards.
It’s important to note that trainee teachers who have already begun but not finished their induction before September 1 this year will have until September 1, 2023, to complete their induction within three terms.
Should I be worried about any of the changes?
Absolutely not. Anyone starting out in education should not be put off by what may, at first glance, seem rather rigid government criteria for both training and performance.
Essentially, the apparatus of the entire induction scheme is designed to actually help new starts and nurture talent. Its aim is to offer a structured programme of guidance and support for professional and personal development.
It is also part of the drive to boost teacher recruitment and retention through providing adequate training and development opportunities for teachers.
That said, the new induction rules should certainly be taken seriously. The latest government guidance notes that an ECT has only one chance to complete their induction. If they are judged to have failed to meet the Teachers’ Standards at the end of their induction period, an ECT will not be permitted to repeat the induction process – although there is a provision to appeal against this.
What is the Early Career Framework?
All of the new responsibilities of the ECT now rest on the foundations of the Early Career Framework (ECF). Among the primary new reforms included in the ECF is a change from one to two years of support and development for new teachers once they’ve completed their initial training.
This means it will be mandatory for schools to provide a two-year, ECF-based programme of support for their newly qualified teachers from September this year.
School leaders can achieve this by designing and delivering their own ECF-based induction programme. Alternatively they can engage with training funded by the government. Thirdly, they can provide their own training using Department of Education-accredited materials and resources.
So, basically, school leaders are able to opt for the bespoke programme they believe is the best match for their new teachers and mentors.
To help them make this decision, they are advised to familiarise themselves with the new statutory guidance, choose the delivery approach that meets the new requirements and set up a programme through the Department of Education’s online service.
How does the monitoring and assessment system work?
Monitoring and assessment of an ECT’s performance is ultimately measured against the Teachers’ Standards.
The decision about whether a teacher early in their career is performing satisfactorily against the acknowledged standards is clear. Upon completion of the induction period it should be seen that the ECT has effectively consolidated their initial teacher training (ITT) and demonstrated their ability to meet the Teachers’ Standards consistently over a sustained period in their practice.
A quick recap: what are the main changes I should know?
New name: a newly qualified teacher (NQT) will now be known as early career teacher (ECT).
Time on: The induction period will now take place over the course of two school years rather than one.
Time out: Early career teachers (ECTs) will benefit from a 5% timetable reduction in their second year, following the 10% reduction in their first year.
Time off: Part-time ECTs who can show they’ve met the Teachers’ Standards over what amounts to covering two school years can agree to have the length of their induction period shortened, with the final assessment brought forward.
Time away: Permitted ad-hoc absences match the extended induction time.
Support: An ECT’s induction must be supported by the Early Career Framework (ECF), with statutory bodies providing appropriate check mechanisms
Mentor: As well as having a tutor, the ECT will now have support from a mentor.
Assessments: In addition to two formal assessments – half way through and at the end of induction – regular progress reviews will be organised during other school terms.