Belinda Goodship is Subject Lead for Music and Professional Tutor at Bedford Free School, part of Advantage Schools. Advantage Schools were part of an early roll-out of the Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms. In this blog, she shares her school’s experience of being part of that early roll-out, and how other schools can successfully implement an ECF-based induction this September.
From September 2021, all new teachers will follow an induction programme based on the ECF. At Advantage Schools, our new teachers have been fortunate to experience such an induction already through the expansion of early roll-out this past year.
Here are our insights into successful implementation.
- Choose the delivery that’s right for your school
We invested a lot of time into getting this right for our setting! You can use DfE resources, write your own programme, or work with a lead provider. At Advantage Schools, we decided to work with a provider because we felt this was a good way to create capacity and ensure quality.
We’d advise ‘shopping around’ to see what each provider has to offer and how it aligns with your school. The easiest way to find out more and sign up to a provider is to contact your local Teaching School Hub, you can also contact lead providers or other local delivery partners directly.
We’ve been delighted with the programme our provider has delivered, and plan to continue with them this September.
- Choose inspiring mentors
A good mentor can make all the difference to a teacher just starting out – so I strongly believe mentor allocation for early career teachers should be carefully considered from the outset.
As a secondary school, we allocated mentors with shared subject specialisms so that coaching could be subject-specific. This may not be possible in all contexts so consider who the best people are to take on the role based on your school culture and staff capacity.
We knew we wanted experienced, practicing classroom teachers who were keen and able to ensure that the early career teacher understood and successfully embedded their learning into the classroom. Our mentors have said they found it really motivating to see the new teachers “blossoming” in their roles, and to have the time to talk about pedagogy and practice.
- Ensure new teachers and mentors have their time protected
In the first year of induction, early career teachers already receive 10 per cent time off timetable. From September this year, the DfE will fund a further 5 per cent in their second year, as well as time for mentors to spend with their mentee in the second year of induction.
Our early career teachers used their protected time to complete their weekly self-study and meet with their mentor for instructional coaching. They also attended half-termly clinics designed to contextualise their self-study and address common misconceptions.
We know a lot of early career teachers were worried about finding the time so we were pleased to hear from Alicia Webster, who started her ECF induction last year: “All the learning is designed to be succinct and digestible. The structured mentor sessions really enable us to focus, so it’s been easy to build into my time each week.”
- Support your mentors
It was important for us to make sure the ECF was a good experience for both our early career teachers and their mentors. One of the advantages of the provider-led programme is that it includes extensive training and support resources for mentors as well.
Our Trust Lead, Sallie Stanton, was particularly struck by the impact of the role on mentors’ own development: “I’ve seen some of our best teachers really develop - they have not only blossomed as coaches, but have reflected even more deeply about their own classroom practice".
We also wanted to make sure mentors didn’t feel overwhelmed with the responsibility. We found that coordinating a weekly mentor briefing email that bullet-pointed actions for the coming week, alongside access to our school-wide professional learning calendar, worked well here.
- Link up with your Appropriate Body early
Appropriate Bodies will continue to make sure early career teachers receive their statutory entitlements and are fairly assessed.
We have already made contact with our Appropriate Body to register our early career teachers for the coming year.
If you’re not choosing to use a provider to deliver an ECF-based induction you will want to find out in advance what evidence you will need to provide to demonstrate your programme meets the new statutory requirements.
- Make professional development a career-long habit
The ECF has been designed to help new teachers develop their practice, expand their knowledge and develop their working habits.
Our early career teachers have grown into reflective practitioners, which has also benefitted colleagues through their involvement in wider professional learning. By developing these habits of self-reflection, and having access to high quality support early in their careers, we feel our early career teachers are equipped for a successful career in teaching.
More information on the Early Career Framework reforms
The ECF reforms will be rolled out nationally from September 2021. If a school offers statutory induction, it will need to replace its current induction process with this new funded programme of training and support.
Find out more about the reforms, including who the lead providers for national roll-out are and what their programmes involve, on GOV.UK.
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