Make sure you’re getting the best from your employer – so they can get the best out of you!
It’s been more than two years since we stopped using the term NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) and adopted ECT (Early Career Teacher) along with a new approach to the induction process designed to keep new teachers engaged and motivated. The change was the response to research showing that teachers are more likely to abandon their careers in their first few years (4 in 10 leave the profession after five years). Under the new regime, you’re entitled to much more care, guidance, and support than in the past. In fact, there was no obligation for employers to provide NQTs with any training or development assistance! To be effective, both in helping ECTs gain confidence and skills and in helping schools retain teachers, these developmental measures need to be implemented diligently.
It’s because we at Teach Now base our entire business ethos on close communication and co-operation with clients and candidates alike that teachers feel they can talk to us. And in our talks, a small minority have revealed that their employers have an overly relaxed attitude to their obligations, leaving ECTs unsure whether they’re getting the development they need to kickstart their careers.
Make sure you’re getting the development you deserve
Of course, complaining to your employer is difficult, especially when you’re a new recruit, but in our experience any omission is likely to be an oversight – or arises because the employer hasn’t fully understood what’s required of them. So, in line with our guiding principle of supporting and nurturing our teachers, here is a brief overview of an ECT’s entitlements, which you can use to make sure you’re not missing out. If you feel that something is lacking, you can find the full details of employers’ obligations on the government’s ‘Get Into Teaching’ website.
The ECT two-year induction involves specific training requirements for all ECTs’ professional development in line with the Early Career Framework (ECF) – and broadly speaking, that means ensuring they learn about the following, among other things:
- Setting high expectations.
- Promoting good progress.
- Demonstrating good subject and curriculum knowledge.
- Planning and teaching well-structured lessons.
- Adapting teaching.
- Making accurate and productive use of assessment.
- Managing behaviour effectively.
- Fulfilling wider professional responsibilities.
This isn’t an exhaustive list – and your ‘ECF-based training’ may take different forms in different educational settings. If you’re particularly keen to examine it in detail, it’s all laid out in the Early Career Framework Policy paper.
So what training can you expect?
Your two-year programme of ECF-based training must include meaningful support from a dedicated mentor, who provides one-to-one support and feedback, as well as arranging mentoring and coaching around specific subject areas. Your school is free to offer you additional training and support – but it’s important to remember that this only to supplement your ECF-based training – not to replace it, or any part of it.
Paid time out of the classroom
This is an important aspect – and one that is easily overlooked in an overstretched school timetable. In your first teaching year you must have a fully paid 10% reduction in your teaching timetable – and 5% in the second year – to give you time away from the classroom to focus on learning and development (on top of the standard time all teachers are allowed for Planning, Preparation and Assessment [PPA]).
And although your induction includes two formal assessments in the light of the Teachers’ Standards, which are seen as the minimum requirements for your professional practice and conduct as a teacher, these don’t form part of your ECF-based training.
It’s here to help you develop – not to add pressure
It’s well worth browsing through the information links provided here to get a proper feel for the detail of the policy – and also of the spirit behind it. Teaching may be a very rewarding profession – but it’s also a very challenging one, especially when you’re just starting out. So you may be pleased to hear that you can’t actually fail any part of your ECF-based training – indeed, you don’t necessarily have to complete it in full to pass your induction. In fact, the guidelines for employers specifically state that.
ECTs must not be assessed:
- Against the knowledge, skills and working habits described in the ECF policy paper.
- On the activities or assignments from their ECF-based training.
The employers’ view
If you’re really keen to make your mark by shining in every aspect of your two-year induction, you might want to make yourself familiar with the government’s statutory guidance ‘for appropriate bodies, headteachers, school staff and governing bodies’.
What better way to make sure you ‘tick all the boxes’! Whether your induction’s already underway, or you’re in the process of applying for your first ECT post, may we wish you an exciting, rewarding and challenging couple of years!