The Early Career Framework (’ECF’) came into effect from the beginning of September 2021.
That means that if you are about to finish your Initial Teacher Training studies and begin your induction period in school, it will be administered under the system set out by the Early Career Framework.
The introduction of the ECF has been welcomed by those in the education system, because it had long been the case that the experience of many NQTs was that their single year introduction to teaching lacked sufficient support, training and supervision.
Some NQTs, of course, were lucky enough to receive extensive support in their first year, but even then they were expected to to immediately cope in their second year of teaching without any additional help.
And, of course, that does not begin to address the fact that a large group of NQTs failed to flourish in their single induction year because of a lack of support and assistance throughout.
The ECF has been designed from the outset to fix this disparity in the training of new teachers, to ensure that a structured and consistent plan of professional development is given to all trainee teachers.
The ECF has been created from the ground up to provide a structured period of induction over the first two years of your teaching career during which the sections of the framework will ensure that you receive a consistent and unified training in a specific set of knowledge and skills.
The framework is split into eight sections (which we’ll look at below) so that a teacher is trained in the latest research and methods in a range of areas of education.
The aim is to ensure that at the end of the two-year induction every teacher is fully equipped with a range of expertise to thrive in a long and rewarding career.
What Is the ECF?
The Early Career Framework has been introduced as part of the Department of Education’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy.
This strategy was published in 2019 and has as its core the aim to enable teachers to have a long and successful career, thereby reducing attrition and keeping more teachers in the profession for longer.
This goal required a revamp of the support for early career teachers as one of several aspects designed to create the right climate to allow teachers to flourish.
With that in mind, the ECF aims to improve the professional entitlement of all teachers by giving them the strongest possible foundations as they begin their careers, which in turn will allow them to give the best chance to all pupils by delivering excellent educational opportunities to all.
In that sense, the ECF is finally bringing teachers into line with other professions by providing a structured, consistent and joined up induction period during which a prescribed set of professional development training is delivered.
For teachers this means that every teacher will be skilled in the latest accumulated knowledge and methods in modern teaching practice.
This has, of course, been standard practice in other professions with a structured training period for many years and puts teachers on the same level as regards professional development.
So, the change under the ECF is that the induction period is increased to two years and a detailed framework that refers back to the existing Teachers Standards is used to implement professional development for all teachers.
Every new teacher works through this framework with an Induction Tutor and an Induction Mentor and they are then assessed at the end of the two-year training period against those same Teacher Standards.
Why Do We Need the ECF?
A number of factors backed up the DfE decision to include a new early career framework in the teacher retention strategy.
One element that influenced the thinking was that recent research made it clear that a period of two years rather than one would give new teachers the time and space to master the latest educational research and methods and apply them in the classroom.
It is also evident from recent DfE data that as many as one fifth of newly qualified teachers were no longer working in state education at the end of the initial two years after their ITT.
It was therefore clear that it was important to make the early years of a teacher’s career as well supported and rewarding as possible.
It is self-evident that a teacher who finds their early years professionally fulfilling and rewarding, rather than tiresome and overly challenging, is more likely to stay in the career for the long term.
A third benefit of the early career framework is that it will open up alternative pathways to future career development for all teachers. Although the natural career path for most is to become a head of subject, department or year as a route to senior leadership, the increased focus on continuing professional development in early years will open up other opportunities for further professional qualifications.
It is hoped that this will mean a wider range of educational expertise is available in all schools and new opportunities for career advancement will be available in addition to the route into senior leader roles.
In turn, this increased level of professional qualification can only be of benefit to pupils as it will allow a larger number of teachers to deliver a better standard of education to all pupils.
The Early Career Framework - How Does it Work?
The ECF is a two-year package of high-quality professional development training.
The DfE has created accredited materials and resources so that a school can create their own two-year programme and the option also exists for a school to develop their own ECF based induction.
Such programmes will have to meet the ECF standards and cover the eight parts of the framework.
However, it is expected that almost all schools will choose to use the professional development packages developed by a small number of DfE funded providers.
These will have the advantage of being a mixture of in-person and online teaching which have already gained a reputation for excellence and effectiveness.
Any method of delivering the ECF training is fully funded by the DfE, but the third-party training providers are funded directly so there is no cost nor any administrative burden for the school.
It seems likely that these will be the most usual method of receiving your ECF training since they are able to provide consistent quality across the country.
Although there is no set curriculum to deliver the training and no specific additional examination of teachers in their induction period, the providers (whether that is a third party or in school) are required to cover specific training.
Five Areas of Practice in the ECF
So that the professional development delivered by the framework is in line with the Teachers Standards against which ECTs are assessed at the end of their two-year induction period, the DfE chose to ensure that five fundamental areas of practice are covered.
These are pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, behaviour and professional behaviours.
In preparing the ECF the DfE reviewed all recent studies and the latest academic literature to ensure that the framework delivered excellent training across all those areas of practice.
Eight Sections of the Early Career Framework
To adequately cover the five areas of practice the ECF professional development training is split into eight sections.
In turn, each of these eight sections is split into two areas - knowledge and application. That means trainee teachers will learn what a teaching method or skill is and what it means and they will then learn how to implement that in a classroom setting.
The eight sections covered in the ECF professional development training are:
- 1High Expectations - Teachers influence the attitudes, values and behaviours of their pupils and should be skilled in encouraging social and emotional development as well as academic proficiency in their pupils.
- 2How Pupils Learn - This section covers the study of the latest information about the working memory and long-term memory so that teachers can learn to account for prior knowledge and sequence lessons so that pupils can secure core ideas.
- 3Subject and Curriculum - You will learn how to provide a coherent vision for the knowledge, skills and values that your pupils will learn. Training will cover use of analogies and examples as well as directly addressing literacy.
- 4Classroom Practice - This section focuses on how teachers can use guidance, support and practice to create effective classroom learning, including covering pupil autonomy and metacognitive strategies.
- 5Adaptive Teaching - In this section you will learn how to cope with pupils who learn at different rates and who require different levels and types of support, so that you can deliver the best possible teaching to pupils with differing requirements.
- 6Assessment - You will learn to use assessment to give insight to your pupils’ understanding and needs whilst ensuring that it does not become onerous and have a negative impact on your and your pupils’ workload.
- 7Behaviour - Learning to successfully manage behaviour in the classroom can be one of the most difficult skills for early career teachers. This section teaches the establishment of routines to create an effective learning environment by using predictable systems of reward and sanction. The aim is to provide all ECTs with the tools to be able to deliver without fail when the classroom environment becomes challenging.
- 8Professional Behaviours - The final section encompasses an overall approach to high quality professional development so that this becomes the ongoing paradigm. The aim is to protect the ability of all teachers to deliver outstanding education whilst also ensuring that they are given time and resources to perform and cope.
ECF Tutors - Induction Tutor and Induction Mentor
In order to ensure that the ECT is delivered to every ECT effectively the changes to induction have also introduced a change to the role of tutors.
Previously an NQT was allocated an Induction Tutor whose role was to provide ongoing monitoring, support and coordination of the training and assessment of the trainee teacher. However, since there was no specified framework for the training, the Induction Tutor’s role was often free-ranging, ill-defined and even unclear.
Under the ECF there are two roles, the Induction Tutor and the Induction Mentor. Wherever possible these should be two different people.
Your Induction Tutor will be the person who provides regular monitoring and support throughout your induction period and will also carry out the formal assessments of your progress against the Teachers Standards.
Your induction Mentor, on the other hand, will meet with you regularly for structured mentor sessions including in-classroom observation and they will provide you with targeted feedback. In addition, your mentor will ensure that you receive Your ECF training and will support you through it.
This division of roles is intended to provide a stronger and more accountable support network for all ECTs during their ECF training.
Early Career Framework - What’s Next For You?
Now that you have an in-depth understanding of the Early Career Framework and how it will affect your ECT induction period you are all set to make the move from ITT to ECT.
When choosing where you would like to begin your teaching career as an ECT you should use this knowledge to learn what provision for the ECF training your future school employer is making. It is also appropriate to ask in-depth questions about your future Induction Tutor and Induction Mentor when going through interviews for ECT positions.
In Lambeth, the ECT provision is first class and all of our schools have developed a specific ECF plan to ensure that you will get the highest quality of professional development training. With that in mind, you can make yourself available to all schools in Lambeth seeking an ECT by joining our ECT pool by clicking the button below.