Explainer: The 2-year induction for Early Career Teachers

This article was written for SecEd Magazine

From September 2021, the early career teacher (ECT) induction is doubling for all new teachers in England from one to two years (following a pilot in some schools in the North East, Greater Manchester, Bradford and Doncaster that began in September 2020). But why?

Why do we need a two-year induction?

Today, teaching is more of an evidence-informed profession than ever before. We now know so much more about what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom and thus it is crucial that new teachers are inculcated in the evidence base.

Of course, it takes time to translate theory into practice and thus ECTs need at least two years to absorb the research and consider how to convert it into classroom reality in a way which works for them, their pupils, their phase and key stages, and their subject discipline.

As well as affording new teachers more time to get to grips with the job of a teacher, a two-year induction should – the government says – go some way towards tackling the teacher retention crisis – which I have written about here .

We know that many teachers quit the classroom within the first five years and that many do so because they feel unsupported in their early endeavours. Not only will the ECF provide more support, but it will also ensure – by training mentors and protecting their time – that this support is more effective.

As well providing more and more effective support to early career teachers, the ECF should also provide a springboard to longer-term continued professional development by ensuring ECTs develop good habits for reflecting on their practice.

What will ECTs have to do?

So far so logical. But what will ECTs be expected to do during their two-year induction?

The short answer is: engage in a planned programme of professional development including mentoring, and demonstrate their performance against the Teachers Standards.

So, how does this programme of professional development work?

Well, schools have three options to choose from when providing training to their early career teachers:

  1. Full induction programme: A funded provider-led programme offering high-quality training for early career teachers and their mentors alongside the professional development materials.
  2. Core induction programme: Schools can draw on the content of the high-quality core induction programmes to deliver their own early career teacher and mentor training.
  3. School-based programme: Schools design and deliver their own ECF-based induction programme.

There are four suppliers who have been funded by the government to provide training materials: Ambition Institute, Educational Development Trust, Teach First, and UCL.

By way of example, if schools opt for the UCL programme, their ECTs will be expected to engage with weekly self-directed study and mentor meetings, as well as with less frequent training and online learning community sessions. And they will be expected to put what they’re learning into practice outside these events. Weekly self-directed study activity will be 45 minutes in length.

There are eight modules of self-directed study in the UCL programme. In each module, there are reading materials and a review task in which ECTs are asked to reflect on the practices that they are already doing well, the practices they are doing some of the time, but could do more of/more consistently, and the practices they do not use in your teaching yet.

The aim is that ECTs will both refine and extend what they already do well and build their skills and confidence in using practices which are not yet a regular part of their teaching repertoire.

Each module also contains a practical exercise such as reading a classroom scenario and commenting on what they would do in response. Each module ends with a ‘next steps’ task in which ECTs are asked to bring their notes from the activity to their next mentor meeting and to be ready to discuss the activity with their mentor. Ultimately, they are expected to use their learning in each self-study session to make at least one positive change in their lessons over the following week.

What support can ECTs expect in return?

As well as the training programme I outline above, ECTs are also entitled to a suitable monitoring and support programme throughout their two-year induction.

This support programme should be structured to meet ECTs’ unique professional development needs (including, for example, the development needs of part-time teachers).

This is expected to include:

• a programme of training that supports the new teacher to understand and apply the knowledge and skills set out in the Early Career Framework’s evidence (‘learn that’) statements and practice (‘learn how to’) statements;
• regular one to one mentoring sessions from a designated mentor who is expected to hold QTS and has the time and ability to carry out the role effectively;
• support and guidance from a designated induction tutor who is expected to hold QTS and has the time and ability to carry out the role effectively;
• observation of the new teacher’s teaching with written feedback provided;
• professional reviews of progress conducted by the induction tutor to set and review
• development targets against the Teachers’ Standards; and
• observations of experienced teachers either in the new teacher’s own institution or in another institution where effective practice has been identified.

The induction tutor

The induction tutor is crucial to the success of the two-year induction and is expected to review the ECT’s progress against the Teachers’ Standards throughout the two-year induction period, with progress reviews taking place in each term where a formal assessment is not scheduled.

Progress reviews are expected to be informed by existing evidence of the ECT’s teaching and to be conducted with sufficient detail to ensure that there is nothing unexpected for the ECT when it comes to their formal assessment.

Progress reviews are not formal assessments and there is no requirement for new teachers to create evidence specifically to inform a progress review. New teachers are expected, nonetheless, to engage with the process and provide copies of existing evidence as agreed with the induction tutor.

A written record of each progress review is expected to be retained and provided to the ECT after each meeting, with the record clearly stating whether the ECT is on track to successfully complete induction, briefly summarising evidence collected by the induction tutor and stating the agreed development targets.

It is also expected that objectives are reviewed and revised in relation to the Teachers’ Standards and the needs and strengths of the individual ECT.

Where the induction tutor is not the headteacher, it is expected that they also update the headteacher on the ECT’s progress after each progress review.

Where the induction tutor believes the ECT is not making satisfactory progress, it is expected they outline the plan they have put in place to assist the new teacher in getting back on track.

Roles and responsibilities

Below is a summary of the expected roles and responsibilities of the ECT, their headteacher, their induction tutor and their mentor…

During the two-year induction period, the ECT is expected to:
• provide evidence that they have QTS and are eligible to start induction;
• meet with their induction tutor to discuss and agree priorities for their induction programme and keep these under review;
• agree with their induction tutor how best to use their reduced timetable allowance and guarantee engagement with their ECF-based induction programme;
• provide evidence of their progress against the Teachers’ Standards (see para 1.8);
• participate fully in the agreed monitoring and development programme;
• raise any concerns with their induction tutor as soon as practicable;
• consult their appropriate body named contact at an early stage if there are, or may be, difficulties in resolving issues with their tutor/within the institution;
• keep track of and participate effectively in the scheduled classroom observations, progress reviews and formal assessment meetings;
• agree with their induction tutor the start and end dates of the induction period/part periods and the dates of any absences from work during any period/part period; and
• retain copies of all assessment reports.

The headteacher, meanwhile, is jointly responsible (with the appropriate body) for the monitoring, support and assessment of the ECT during induction, and is expected to:
• check that the ECT has been awarded QTS;
• clarify whether the teacher needs to serve an induction period or is exempt;
• agree, in advance of the ECT starting the induction programme, which body will act as the appropriate body;
• notify the appropriate body when an ECT is taking up a post in which they will be undertaking induction;
• ensure that the requirements for a suitable post for induction are met;
• ensure the induction tutor has the ability and sufficient time to carry out
• their role effectively;
• ensure that the mentor has the ability and sufficient time to carry out their role effectively;
• ensure an appropriate ECF-based induction programme is in place;
• ensure the ECT’s progress is reviewed regularly, including through
• observations of and feedback on their teaching;
• ensure that assessments are carried out and reports completed and sent to the appropriate body;
• maintain and retain accurate records of employment that will count towards the induction period;
• ensure that all monitoring and record keeping is done in the most streamlined and least burdensome way;
• make the governing body aware of the arrangements that have been put in place to support ECTs serving induction;
• make a recommendation to the appropriate body on whether the ECT’s performance against the Teachers’ Standards is satisfactory or requires an extension;
• participate appropriately in the appropriate body’s quality assurance procedures; and
• retain all relevant documentation/evidence/forms on file for six years.

There may also be circumstances where the headteacher is also expected to:
• obtain interim assessments from the ECT’s previous post;
• act early, alerting the appropriate body when necessary, in cases where an
• ECT may be at risk of not completing induction satisfactorily;
• ensure third-party observation of an ECT who may be at risk of not performing satisfactorily against the Teachers’ Standards;
• notify the appropriate body as soon as absences total 30 days or more;
• periodically inform the governing body about the institution’s induction
• arrangements;
• advise and agree with the appropriate body where, in exceptional cases, it may be appropriate to reduce the length of the induction period or deem that it has been satisfactorily completed;
• consult with the appropriate body in cases where a part-time ECT has completed a period covering, but not equivalent to, two school years and has met the necessary requirements to reduce induction;
• provide interim assessment reports for staff moving school in between formal assessment periods; and
• notify the appropriate body when an ECT serving induction leaves the institution.

The induction tutor is expected to:
• provide, or coordinate, guidance for the ECT’s professional development (with the appropriate body where necessary);
• carry out regular progress reviews throughout the induction period;
• undertake two formal assessment meetings during the total induction period coordinating input from other colleagues as appropriate (normally one at the end of term three and one at the end of term six, or pro rata for part-time staff);
• carry out progress reviews in terms where a formal assessment does not occur;
• inform the ECT following progress review meetings of the determination of their progress against the Teachers’ Standards and share progress review records with the ECT, headteacher and appropriate body;
• inform the ECT during the assessment meeting of the judgements to be recorded in the formal assessment record and invite the ECT to add their comments;
• ensure that the ECT’s teaching is observed and feedback provided;
• ensure ECTs are aware of how, both within and outside the institution, they can raise any concerns about their induction programme or their personal progress;
• take prompt, appropriate action if an ECT appears to be having difficulties; and
• ensure that all monitoring and record keeping is done in the most streamlined and least burdensome way, and that requests for evidence from ECTs do not require new documentation but draw on existing working documents.

And finally, the mentor (or the induction tutor if carrying out this role) is expected to:
• regularly meet with the ECT for structured mentor sessions to provide effective targeted feedback;
• work collaboratively with the ECT and other colleagues involved in the ECT’s induction within the same school to help ensure the ECT receives a high-quality ECF-based induction programme;
• provide, or broker, effective support, including phase or subject specific mentoring and coaching; and
• take prompt, appropriate action if an ECT appears to be having difficulties.

Completing the induction period

The end of an ECT’s two-year induction period will, as now, be marked by a decision as to whether their performance against the Teachers’ Standards is satisfactory.

As I noted at the start of the previous article, I wrote about the role the Teachers’ Standards play in a successful induction in November’s special supplement for Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) .

In that piece, I said that the decision about whether an NQT’s performance is satisfactory should take into account their work context and must be made on the basis of what can be reasonably expected of them by the end of their induction period.

Judgments should also reflect the expectation that an NQT has effectively consolidated their initial teacher training and demonstrated their ability to meet the relevant Standards consistently over a sustained period.

All of this remains unchanged under the ECF. What’s more, the government says that a 2-year induction will have no adverse impact upon ECT’s pay or career progression opportunities.

In other words, early career teachers will still be able to progress on the pay scale as current arrangements allow, both during and after induction.

Appropriate bodies such as a local authority, a teaching school hub, National Teacher Accreditation, or the Independent Schools Teacher Induction Panel, will have a role in checking that ECTs are receiving a programme of support and training based on the ECF. This will be alongside their current role ensuring that new teachers receive their statutory entitlements and are fairly and consistently assessed.

Schools who choose to deliver their own induction programmes, whether using Department for Education (DfE) accredited materials or the ECF itself, will need to provide information to their appropriate body to demonstrate that their programme fulfils statutory requirements.

The statutory guidance for a new teacher’s induction says that all qualified teachers who are employed in a relevant school in England must, by law, have completed an induction period satisfactorily, subject to specified exemptions.

The guidance was significantly updated in light of the ECF. In addition to what we’re already explored above, the following key changes were made:

• There will now be two formal assessment points, one midway through induction, and one at the end of the induction period. These will be supported by regular progress reviews to monitor progress, to take place in each term where a formal assessment is not scheduled.
• In cases where ECTs working part-time can demonstrate that they have met the Teachers’ Standards, the appropriate body is able to reduce the length of the induction period and bring forward the final assessment point. This decision is only to be made in agreement with the ECT and once the ECT has completed a period covering, but not equivalent to, two school years.
• The number of ad-hoc absences permitted has been extended, in line with the extended length of induction.

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