Are you ready?

This article originally appeared in Leader magazine
Issue 119 | Summer Term 2021

The launch of the Early Career Framework (ECF) in January 2019 brought a structured programme of development for new teachers, Malcom Trobe CBE shares steps to help you prepare for the ECF.

Last September, recognising the impact of the pandemic on Initial Teacher Training (ITT), schools adjusted their support and development programmes for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) to compensate, particularly for their limited practical classroom experience. And, although ITT providers were more prepared this year and adjusted their programmes as best they could, many of those starting their teaching career this coming September will still be short of practical experience.

They are entering the profession at a time when the development and support system is changing with the introduction of the Early Career Framework (ECF). Even the term NQT is being replaced by Early Career Teacher (ECT).

The launch of the ECF in January 2019 was seen as a positive step in providing a structured programme of development for new teachers. There are, however, significant concerns about the level of funding and the impact this will have on the programme being delivered in the way it was originally outlined.

Lobbying for further funding will undoubtedly continue as schools work to deliver the ECF in the best possible way.

What’s changed

We’ve known for some time that all ECTs are entitled to an induction period of the full-time equivalent of two school years, but what other statutory requirements have changed?

  • Schools are required to deliver an induction period underpinned by the ECF. n ECTs will have a 5% teaching time reduction in their second year of induction, following the 10% first-year reduction.
  • The role of a mentor is being introduced and is separate to the role of an induction tutor. n Headteachers must ensure that both mentor and induction tutor have the ability and time to carry out their roles.
  • ‚ÄčThere will be two formal assessment points, one midway through induction, and one at the end of the induction period, supported by termly progress reviews.

It’s worth noting that the mentor and induction tutor are two discrete roles with different responsibilities and the DfE indicates that these roles should be held by two separate individuals.

The end of the induction period will continue to be marked by a decision on whether the teacher’s performance against the Teachers’ Standards is satisfactory.

Three approaches

If your school offers statutory induction, your induction process will need to be revised, together with job descriptions of mentors and induction tutors. One of the first decisions you should make is which of the three approaches best suits the needs of your ECTs, mentors and your school. The three approaches are:

  1. A funded provider-led programme. Schools can choose to work with DfE accredited providers who have designed and will deliver a programme of face-to-face and online training to ECTs and their mentors. This route is paid directly by the DfE so schools will not have to engage in paying providers.

  2. Schools deliver their own training using freely available DfE-accredited materials and resources for new teachers and mentors. These materials have been quality assured by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Schools would need to deliver and fund their own ECT and mentor support.

  3. Schools design, fund and deliver their own two-year induction programme for ECTs based on the ECF and their own ECT and mentor support.

Choosing a route

If you choose the first route, you’ll need to identify which of the providers has a delivery and support package that best meets your needs and which has a delivery programme in your area. The accredited providers will often work through teaching school hubs (TSHs), so contact your local hub to find out which provider they are working with and whether the combination of TSH and provider meets your needs. There may be some urgency in making your decision here as, while they’ll be keen to recruit to meet their targets, they may also have capacity issues, and you need everything to be in place for September. There are also practical implications that may impact how you need to organise the teaching time reduction, depending on how the provider is delivering the training aspect. You may also need to consider how you ensure that delivery and support align with the culture, ethos and values of your school.

The other two approaches offer more freedom to schools, however, there will be significantly more work involved, particularly if a school is looking to design and deliver its own programme, as well as funding implications. The workload in these approaches would, in my view, be far too great for single schools and are much more suited to multi-academy trusts (MATs) or federations where the development and delivery can be shared. If you choose to deliver your own induction programme through the second or third option, you will need to demonstrate to the appropriate body that your programme meets the statutory requirements.

Whichever approach is taken, schools will receive some funding for the 5% teaching time reduction in the ECT’s second year of induction, and funding for mentor release time (a notional 20 hours) in the second year only. This funding has been set at £2,100 per ECT, with slightly higher levels for London weighting areas. There is no additional funding for any ECT timetable reduction or mentoring in the first year.

Appropriate bodies

With the end of the teaching schools programme, Teaching Schools can no longer operate as appropriate bodies (ABs), so you may need to find a new appropriate body. Others may want to review which AB they wish to use.

There are important changes in the role of ABs, particularly, the increase in the assurance role where they have a responsibility in checking that an appropriate ECF-based induction is in place. It may be helpful to explore how various ABs intend to implement their additional responsibilities and consider how this will impact on workloads and practices in your school, particularly for the induction tutor.

Headteachers and trust leaders will also need to ensure that the relevant governing body is aware of their responsibilities related to the ECF and discuss with them how they wish to have assurance of compliance with the statutory guidance.

Evidence indicates that an essential factor in improving schools is high-quality teaching. Recruiting and retaining good teachers is therefore critical.

Ensuring our teachers make a good start in their career through strong support and good professional development is key to teacher retention. Getting the ECF right for all Early Career Teachers is a responsibility we all share.

Further information

Statutory guidance:

Early career framework reforms: overview (including a list of the six providers)

See ASCL’s information on the ECF at

Malcolm Trobe CBE
Member of the ECF and National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) Expert Group

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