The Early Career Framework: a guide for prospective teachers

Paul Main

The Early Career Framework: a guide for prospective teachers and schools. How does the ECF work and what are the changes?

What is the early career framework?

The Early Career Framework (ECF) underpins the entitlement to fully funded high-quality training and support for early career teachers linked to the most advanced research evidence. This is a 2-year early roll-out programme that ensures that the new educators have dedicated time to concentrate on their high-quality professional development.

Why was the Early Career Framework programme established?

In 2019, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy was published by the Department for Education (DfE), which highlighted the adverse impact and major problems in education, specifically relating to the challenges in teacher retention. It was noticed that the main reason for teacher shortages was the lack of support at the start of teaching career. To provide sufficient support to the early career teachers, a reform was introduced for teacher development – the Early Career Framework (ECF).

The Early Career Framework (ECF) describes the skills and knowledge for the early career teachers, and it has been utilised for creating the 2-Year programme of training and development. This programme is aimed at providing the right support to lay the foundation of a successful and rewarding career in teaching.

Teacher career progression
Teacher career progression

What knowledge and skills are addressed in the early career framework?

Teachers need to be prepared with professional knowledge in the classroom. The early career framework provides teachers with evidence-informed ideas that are deemed important for classroom practice. As well as addressing curriculum knowledge, the framework also addresses pedagogical challenges that educators will inevitably face. As well as exploring concepts such as curriculum structure and design, participants will also develop skills in areas such as:

1) Scaffolding

2) Metacognition

3) Working memory

4) Practice, challenge and success

5) Classroom talk

6) Formative assessment

7) Structured support for learning

8) Instructions

Trainee teachers will explore evidence from organisations like the Education Endowment Foundation
Trainee teachers will explore evidence from organisations like the Education Endowment Foundation

How is an early career framework beneficial for early career teachers?

Early career framework is advantageous because it provides essential knowledge about different aspects of classroom practice and career progression opportunities for early career teachers. The early career teachers can get easy access to:

  • A structured 2-year training and support programme and bank of resources;
  • Flexibility - online learning resources;
  • Expert resources;
  • Face to face training modules;
  • Career professional development events; and
  • A dedicated mentor.

Teachers learning about curriculum design
Teachers learning about curriculum design

How is an early career framework beneficial for the schools?

An early career framework is advantageous for the schools as they can benefit from:

  • Online and face-to-face training for the experienced teachers to become a great mentor;
  • Online Materials and training for mentors and early career teacher;
  • A network of mentors to share professional classroom strategies;
  • Training for the Senior Leaders to introduce the structured two-year package of training and development to the school.

Every region has a dedicated teaching school hub

Who can apply for the Early Career Framework programme?

Every early career teacher, previously called newly qualified teacher (NQT), across each subject and phase at a state-funded school, is entitled to the ECF programme.

From September 2021, it has been made mandatory for every school to enrol each early career teacher (ECT) for the structured Two-Year Package of Early Career Framework programme.

What is the difference between the 2-year ECF Roll-out programme and the 1-Year Expansion Programme?

The 2-year ECF Roll-out programme was initiated in September 2020 for the selected school partners in Greater Manchester, North-East, Doncaster and Bradford.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2-year ECF Roll-out programme was widened to 4,600 new educators other than early roll-out areas, who earned a 1-year package of support-based on the ECF. Those who started their ECF programmes will proceed as planned until their completion and wouldn't be affected by the launch of the new ECF national roll-out.

Teaching School Hubs support the current induction process
Teaching School Hubs support the current induction process

What is the Revised Statutory Induction Guidance?

As part of the ECF reforms, statutory induction for new teachers was changed in September 2021. According to the new reforms, each early career teacher on statutory induction will be eligible for a structured 2-year package of high-quality professional development support based on the ECF.

Every school needs to replace its induction programme. The schools can benefit from a range of support available to ensure that they meet the statute, including an updated DfE funded provider-led programme of training and support.

Revised statutory induction guidance discusses the responsibilities of mentors, induction tutors, middle leader and career leader, to help early career teachers undertake statutory core induction programme.

Major changes are:

  • An extension of the two-year induction programme.
  • Early career teachers on the career induction period are now eligible for a two-year package of the programme of training and support based on the ECF.
  • The completion of an early career teacher’s induction period will depend upon the satisfactory performance of the teacher against the Teachers’ Standards. After completing the professional training and development programme, the ECF should allow teachers to prove that they fulfil those standards after induction.
  • Educators who began, but haven't completed induction by 1st September 2021, must proceed with the 2018 statutory induction guidance for newly qualified teachers.

A community of teachers discussing pedagogy
A community of teachers discussing pedagogy

What are the most effective approaches to enable the delivery of an ECF-based induction?

Schools can choose from the following 3 approaches to enable the delivery of an ECF-based induction.

  1. Schools can opt for a funded provider-led induction programme;
  2. Schools can choose to deliver their training using DfE- accredited study materials as well as access to expert resources;
  3. Schools can create and deliver their ECF-based induction.

School leaders can decide the most suitable approach after ensuring that their selected approach to induction will best suit their early career teachers and mentors.

supporting teacher career progression
supporting teacher career progression

What are the requirements for schools creating and delivering their ECF-based induction?

Those who choose to create and deliver their 2-year induction programme, using DfE- accredited materials and training, for early career teachers and their mentors on basis of the ECF must know that the DfE will provide funding for the time off timetable for the mentors and early career teachers; schools will be paid directly in the second year of induction.

These schools are expected to develop a 2-year programme of support and training including every ‘learn how to’ and ‘learn that’ practice statements in the ECF. Also, they must provide evidence to their appropriate body to ascertain their induction programme meets statutory requirements and is ECF-based. These schools need to get in touch with their appropriate body for additional details of what body of evidence will be needed in the summer term. Schools that will create and deliver their individual ECF-based induction wouldn't use DfE’s online resources to run their induction.

It is expected that the early career framework reforms will bring a significant change and support early career teachers, through a funded, provider-led programme entitlement to professional development. The early career framework is part of the teacher recruitment and retention strategy of the local government, which aims to provide initial teacher training and development opportunities to early career teachers. The early career framework sets out what exactly an early career teacher must know, and learn the best ways of teaching, in their first 2 years of teaching careers. Before September 2021, every school was expected to:

  • Read the revised statutory guidance;
  • Select a delivery approach according to the most current requirements;
  • Set up its professional development programme through Department for Education’s online service if they prefer to use an approved funded provider, or provide the authorised materials themselves.