As you approach the end of your teacher training your thoughts are going to turn to the next stage - becoming a teacher.
Actually getting to use the skills you’ve learned is an extremely rewarding time but it can also seem daunting.
The recent changes to the transition to teacher following completion of your teaching qualification may also be a little less clear as we all begin to operate under the new Early Careers Framework, but, in fact, these changes are for the better.
You will now have two years rather than the previous one year to prepare and settle into your new role and the new system also provides for clearer systematic training and support to develop your teaching skills.
That said, because teachers operated under the one year NQT system for so long, many prospective teachers just finishing their courses at University have questions about exactly what the ECT induction entails.
In this article we’ll cover some of the main questions we are often asked.
1. What Are ECT Years?
Until last year you would have been asking the question, ‘What is an NQT Year?’, but now the post qualification Early Career Teacher (ECT) period lasts two years.
Regardless of whether your teaching qualification is your undergraduate BEd degree, a postgraduate PGCE or PGDE or one of the in-school training routes, such as School Direct, you will obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) at the point you complete that academic part of your teacher training.
However, before you can be considered fully qualified to teach in the UK you are required to have more training on the job. This used to be one year under the recently replaced NQT system but is now two years under the new ECT system.
You can complete this two year ECT period by working part-time, but, in that case, you’ll still have to complete six full terms (the equivalent of two years), although you can do that over a longer period of years.
For the length of your on the job training period you will be termed an ‘Early Career Teacher’ or ECT.
The introduction of the two year training for ECTs is as part of the Early Career Framework (ECF) plan to better support teachers during their training period.
The ECF provides specific training for approximately 10% of your total working hours in the first year. In most circumstances you’ll also have 10% of your time for planning, preparation and assessment so you’ll actually spend 80% of your time teaching in class.
This is a more controlled approach than the previous NQT system and the tailored training is designed to better support your teaching development.
In your second ECT year the training time is reduced to 5% of your working hours and your time in class rises by 5% correspondingly.
During your ECT years you should not be given any additional non-teaching responsibilities by your school.
Throughout your ECT period you will have both an assigned Induction Mentor whose role is to support you through the training, and an Induction Tutor. The ECF provides that the mentoring will take the form of regular one-to-one sessions and can also include additional training from your mentor (including in-classroom observation) where it is felt to be necessary.
Your mentor will provide you with targeted feedback and is there to ensure that you receive your ECF training and will support you through it.
Your Induction Tutor’s role is to provide regular monitoring and support throughout your induction period and they will also carry out the formal assessments of your progress against the Teachers Standards.
You will be assessed halfway through the ECT period and at the end of the two years. There are also regular progress reviews which are used to prepare you for the formal assessments and to ensure that your training is providing you with the skills and support you need.
2. Why do ECTs Have to Complete an Induction Programme?
The purpose of the new two year ECT induction period is to provide an improved environment to help you become a better teacher.
The Early Career Framework now provides a more structured approach to your ongoing training in the ECT phase of your career with professional development training split into eight sections.
The framework and the two year period will allow all early years teachers to gain a stronger foundation to their teaching skills over an extended period of training.
It is hoped that this will make the initial years of teaching a better experience for more teachers and therefore the overall standard of teaching and teachers will rise and a greater number of teachers will be retained in the profession.
3. Which Schools Can I Work in to Complete an Induction Programme?
You can complete your induction in any school that fulfills the statutory requirements, which, in practice, means that most schools throughout the country qualify (as well as British schools overseas that have been approved).
4. Do I Have to Do My Induction Straightaway?
No, there is no time limit set under the ECF in which you have to start or complete your Induction. Although the new framework sets no deadline there is a suggestion that you should start as soon as possible after gaining your QTS (qualified teacher status).
5. Can I Do My Induction Part-Time?
Yes. You can do your Induction on a part-time basis as long as you are working on a contract basis (rather than day-to-day substitute supply).
The maths is simple. To complete Induction you must work for six complete terms (two academic school years). Therefore, whatever ratio your part-time contract is for, you will need to do a commensurate amount of extra years on that part-time basis to complete the Induction period - e.g. if you are on 0.5 of a full-time employment contract, then you will need to serve Induction for four academic years.
6. Can I Do Induction As a Supply Teacher?
Yes, working as a supply teacher can count for Induction and it can be across multiple supply engagements.
That means you can start the two year period before you get a permanent job and that time will count, but there are some caveats.
The minimum period that is eligible to be counted towards your Induction (whether you work full-time or part-time) is a continuous period of one term.
A series of different short term supply contracts (or day to day substitute supply) which add up to a term will not count.
A supply contract that counts towards Induction needs to be planned in advance and structured to ensure that the ECT receives fair assessment and the required support from an Induction mentor and Induction tutor.
The argument is that this is not feasible in anything less than a term.
7. Can I Serve Induction at Several Schools?
Yes. You can serve Induction in several schools as long as each contract of employment is for one term as a minimum.
That means that every full term served counts towards your six term total needed to pass Induction.
If your circumstances change you won’t lose any full terms from your final Induction ‘count’, and you could, at least in theory, be serving different part-time contracts at different schools which would all count.
Your separate contracts are all added up to calculate the number of full terms served as recorded by your head teacher.
8. What Happens If I Leave My Job During Induction?
Any full terms served before you leave your ECT job will count towards Induction. Part served terms will not count.
And, as stated above, terms served at another school or schools will then count towards your Induction period total.
It is advisable to have your school complete an interim assessment if you leave mid-term.
9. Who Decides Whether I have Passed Induction?
The appropriate body in charge of your Induction (which will likely be the LEA or a Teaching School hub) is who decides if you, as an ECT, have met the required standard to pass your Induction.
That appropriate body considers the formal assessments done and submitted by your headteacher (or whoever else it might be under the ECF) to ensure that there is sufficient evidence that you have met all of the standards by the end of Induction.
In practice, you would know during the two year period if there were issues to be addressed so this is not like an end of year exam result!
10. What Happens If I Fail Induction?
If the head teacher at your school and then the relevant Appropriate Body find that you have not met the required standards, then you will fail your Induction.
The upshot of this is that you will not legally be able to teach in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England. However, you would still technically be able to teach in an independent school or work as a private tutor since your QTS status is not revoked, although you might, in practice, find it hard to secure that employment without passing Induction.
If you did fail Induction, there is an appeal process that you can submit to the TRA (Teaching Regulation Agency) within 20 working days.
ECT Induction Questions - What Next?
These answers cover ten of the most often asked questions we’ve heard from ECTs in the last year, but you may well have more!
The National Education Union has an excellent downloadable called ‘Your guide to Induction’ here, which has a straightforward breakdown of the whole Induction process and answers a whole load more things you might want to ask.
And, of course, as you are doing interviews for your ECT role you will have lots of opportunity to ask questions and once employed your Induction Mentor will be there to answer anything that crops up.