From NQT to ECT – Changes to Induction Explained

If you’ve been training to be a teacher in the last year, you won’t have missed the news that the Department of Education has made changes to what we are all used to calling an ‘NQT’ or ‘newly qualified teacher’.

The new Early Careers Framework (‘ECF’) which is behind this change isn’t just an adjustment of some terminology (although it is that, too), but is, in fact, a wider shake up of the whole process of going from trainee to fully qualified teacher.

Where you were once an NQT, you’ll now be an ‘ECT’, or ‘Early Career Teacher’. As well as the new name, the main change is that your induction period as a trainee teacher will now be two years instead of one.

However, and perhaps more importantly, for the first time there will be a structured two-year package of high quality professional development for every ECT, funded by the DfE.

That means there will be a unified approach to your in-school training that aims to deliver better trained teachers and also better prepares early career teachers for the challenges that they will face so that more stay with the job.

The introduction of the ECF has been broadly seen as a good thing for teachers, supported by teachers themselves, teachers’ unions, and the various bodies of the wider education system.

This is because the changes allow for better professional development for every teacher in their first two years which should, in turn, mean all teachers are better qualified to do the job so that pupils can also get a better education.

Further, the dropout rate in the first two years of teaching has hovered around 20% in recent years, so the ECF changes are also targeted at improving the overall experience for early career teachers.

The theory is that better support and better training will make those first few tricky years of learning the ropes easier to navigate. More teachers will thrive and more will therefore stay the course.

The changes acknowledge that there have been shortcomings in the current NQT system that has been in place since 2001 and seeks to address them.

Chief amongst these has been the lack of structured training that seeks to pass on the latest teaching knowledge, which meant that the experience of each NQT could differ markedly depending on where they were going through their NQT year.

The new statutory requirement to follow the Early Career Framework and to do so with specific funded training is likely to make a considerable impact on the experience for each ECT.

The aim is that it will deliver across the board results in terms of better teachers staying in the profession for longer and in being better equipped to give a better education to their pupils.

The ECF came into effect from September 2021. That means it applies to all new teachers starting their QTS period in schools from then.

So, from the viewpoint of you as an ECT, let’s look at what has changed.

Pre-September 2021 (the old ‘NQT’ system)

On gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) previously had to undertake a period of induction lasting one academic year (full-time) or correspondingly longer (part-time), and be judged as successfully completing this, in order to move into their post-induction career.

An NQT was entitled to receive a 10% reduction in their teaching workload (half a day a week) to allow 

them to undertake induction-based activities.

A monitoring and support programme, personalised to meet their professional development needs, had to be put in place, covering:

  • Support and guidance from a designated Induction Tutor
  • Observation of the NQT’s teaching and follow-up discussion
  • Regular professional reviews of their progress
  • Observation by the NQT of experienced teachers

It is important to note that in this prior system there was no explicit or implied reference to a particular training requirement. 

An NQT’s progress towards successfully completing induction was assessed three times during their

induction – Christmas, Easter and at the end of the school year for full time NQTs starting induction at the start of the academic year, for example.

NQTs could be absent for twenty nine days before induction had to be extended for the length of the absences.

Post-September 2021 (the new ‘ECT’ system)

On gaining QTS, Early Career Teachers (ECTs) will now have to undertake a period of induction lasting two academic years (full-time) or correspondingly longer (part-time), and be judged as successfully completing this, in order to move into their post-induction career.

An ECT will be entitled to receive a 10% reduction in their teaching workload (half a day a week) during the first year of induction, and a 5% reduction (half a day a fortnight) during the second year of induction, to allow them to undertake induction based activities.

A monitoring and support programme, personalised to meet their professional development needs, has to be put in place, covering:

  • Support and guidance from a designated Induction Tutor
  • Observation of the ECT’s teaching and follow-up discussion
  • Regular professional reviews of their progress
  • Observation by the NQT of experienced teachers
  • A programme of training that supports them to understand and apply the knowledge and skills set out in the Early Career Framework’s (ECF) evidence statements and practice statements – this is part of induction, and not an additional training programme
  • Regular one to one mentoring sessions from a designated Induction Mentor

An ECT’s progress towards successfully completing induction will be assessed twice during their induction – at the end of Year One and the end of Year Two for full time ECTs starting induction at the start of the academic year, for example – with progress reviews taking place at the end of terms where assessment does not take place.

ECTs can be absent for twenty nine days in Year One and twenty nine days in Year Two before induction 

has to be extended for the length of the absences.

ECF Induction Training Programmes

Schools have three options available to them to enable the delivery of an ECF-based induction training package and which is on offer for your school will depend on the choice they make.

It is likely that most schools will use an external provider since this ensures uniformity of the training and the funding is delivered directly to the third party provider.

The three types of ECF programme you may find offered by your school are:

  • A funded provider-led programme – known as a Full programme
  • Schools deliver a training programme using DfE-accredited material – known as a Core programme
  • Regular professional reviews of their progress
  • Schools design and deliver a training programme using the ECF

The standard of any type of programme is to be monitored to ensure that all ECTs have the opportunity to get the same standard of professional development regardless of how it is delivered.

The Differences Between NQT and ECT

To sum up, the core differences for you, the teacher entering this training phase are set out in the table below.

Provision

Old System (NQT)

New System (ECT)

Length of Induction

1 year

2 years

Allowed Reduction in Timetable Workload

10% reduced timetabled teaching for 1 year.

10% reduced timetabled teaching for 1 year.

5% reduced timetabled teaching for year 2.

Allocated Support

Support and guidance from a designated Induction Tutor.

Support and guidance from a designated Induction Tutor

Regular one to one mentoring sessions from a designated Induction Mentor.

Professional Development Training

No explicit or implied reference to a particular training requirement.

A programme of training that supports the Early Career Framework’s (ECF) evidence statements and practice statements.

Assessment

Assessed against Teacher Standards 3 times in 1 year.

Assesses against Teacher Standards.

Two formal assessments - end of first year and the end of 2nd year.

Regular progress reviews taking place at the end of terms where formal assessment does not take place.

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