The Government’s Early Career Framework reforms

Changes from NQT to ECT (Early Career Teacher)

The Government’s Early Career Framework reforms.

What is the difference between NQT and ECT – and what do these changes mean for you?

First of all, it is important to point out that the reforms due to take effect in September this year are an extension of the government’s long-standing teacher recruitment and retention strategy, which aims to mitigate chronically large drop-out rates among teachers in the very early years of their careers. The motivation for the reforms, therefore, is to inspire teachers to stay. By providing much more, much better training, support and development – to exactly the same standard no matter where in the country you’re working – the plan is to show teachers that they are valued and keep brilliant, talented and committed people in this challenging and utterly vital profession. All of which suggests that the changes will be for the better as far as teachers are concerned.

Nevertheless, it seems that some teachers are concerned. As you have probably gathered, as part of the process, NQT becomes an ECT (Early Career Teacher) – and former NQTs in their second year of teaching are to be known as ECTs too – and everyone will be an ECT for their first two years’ teaching, instead of the single year as an NQT.

On the face of it, that might appear to be a merely cosmetic change – and even something of a backward step for people looking forward to leaving behind the ‘L plates’ of NQT status. Actually, because it’s all about retaining good teachers, there is much to look forward to. Firstly, everyone will get the same high standard of support and development as part of a clearly structured nationwide programme, which all schools must implement – and which regional hubs will be enforcing robustly. Secondly, categorising teachers as ‘ECTs’ doesn’t suggest they haven’t progressed – only that they’re still early in their careers and that ongoing support is still important.

The biggest difference between NQT and ECT is that the induction period is extended from one to two school years – but throughout that time you are entitled to newly funded support and development as well as out-of-class training in year 2 (which is new) and it’s all underpinned and checked by the national Early Career Framework.

You can change jobs during the new induction period and you will still progress on the pay scale as before – in fact the important difference is that you’ll be fully supported throughout the first two years of your new career,  which has not always been the case before. Finally, and very importantly, as an ECT you have only one chance to complete statutory induction. If you fail to meet the Teachers’ Standards you cannot to repeat your induction – so improved support and far better ongoing training are to be welcomed with open arms.

At a glance – The difference between NQT and ECT

CurrentNew (From September 1st 2021)
NQT (newly qualified teacher)ECT (Early career teacher)
M1 Sep 2020 outer LondonM1 Sep 2021 outer London
M1 Sep 2020 inner LondonM1 Sep 2021 inner London
1 year programme of support & development2 year programme of support & development
Opportunity to progress to M2 at the end of first yearOpportunity to progress to M2 at the end of first year
10% out of class (in addition to PPA) in 1st year10% out of class (in addition to PPA) in 1st year
No additional time out of class in 2nd year5% out of class (in addition to PPA) in 2nd year
Individual authorities set their programme of supportInduction period underpinned by the national ECF (Early Career Framework) and checked by appropriate bodies
Initial training and support for the school mentorAdditional training, support and expectations for the school mentor (ongoing)
3 progress reviews (1 per term) and a formal assessment at the end of the first yearTwo formal assessment points (one midway through induction and one at the end) & regular progress reviews each term
Assessed against the teachers’ standardsAssessed against the teachers’ standards