Background and context
Previous features of induction continuing under the ECF
Key features of the ECF
Length of the induction period
Reduction in teaching timetable
Underpinning of induction by the ECF
Induction tutors and mentors
ECF delivery approaches
Assessment, support and monitoring arrangements
NQTs who have yet to complete induction
The Early Career Framework (ECF) is a reformed approach to the induction of new teachers which was introduced nationally in England from September 2021.
This page will be of interest and relevance to all teachers and school leaders working in schools in which new teachers will be undertaking induction. The information set out below will be helpful for new teachers, although dedicated advice and guidance on induction for new teachers is available on our new teacher section of the website.
Under previous arrangements, new teachers undertaking induction were referred to as Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs). Under the ECF, the DfE’s preferred terminology for such teachers is Early Career Teacher (ECT). Therefore, for clarity, this distinction is used in this briefing.
The ECF replaced the previous induction framework that has been in place on a statutory basis since 2001. While many of the features of the previous framework are continued in the ECF (see below), the ECF has changed many important features of the ways in which induction is organised and undertaken by ECTs.
The NASUWT is clear that statutory induction has a critical role to play in the formation of new teachers and strongly supported its introduction. However, consistent feedback from NASUWT NQT members, and the findings of independent research, has made clear that the previous arrangements too often result in poor experiences of induction, both for NQTs and for those staff in schools with responsibility for them.
Each year, the NASUWT supports and represents a substantial number of new teachers who have not been treated fairly and equitably, who are not given their statutory entitlements as new teachers, receive limited or no professional development and who often leave the profession as a result. The Union also supports many induction mentors and others responsible for supporting new teachers who do not have the time, space and resources to undertake their roles effectively or manageably alongside their other professional commitments.
The NASUWT, therefore, strongly advocated for reform of this system to address the inconsistencies and unfairness it often generates. The ECF represents the DfE’s approach to addressing some of these concerns.
The NASUWT is continuing to raise these issues with the DfE to ensure that every possible step is taken to support ECTs, mentors and their colleagues in schools to implement the ECF is a way that is sustainable, manageable and that results in an improved experience for new teachers and those that work with them.
Problems have emerged during the initial stages of the national roll-out of the ECF that appear to be specifically related to the way in which framework is designed and implemented.
In particular, the NASUWT has been concerned about the inflexible nature of some of the programmes managed by external providers, the workload burdens that have been faced by many ECTs and the mentors that work with them and the ways in which ECT progress and development is being assessed.
The NASUWT is continuing to engage with the DfE on these issues and to secure improvements to the ECF.
The ECF is described in a suite of documents published by the DfE which are available at Early career framework reforms: overview. The key documents include:
revised statutory guidance setting out the legal obligations of schools, employers and appropriate bodies as well as ECTs’ rights and entitlements;
guidance for schools on managing ECF-based training;
a policy and assessment document that describes the experiences and learning that must be reflected in all induction programmes for ECTs; and;
- statutory guidance for appropriate bodies to which they must have regard in undertaking their monitoring and oversight functions of under the ECF.
Any further significant advice and guidance published by the DfE on the ECF will be referenced in an updated version of this briefing.
Although the ECF introduces important changes to the way in which induction is organised, it might be helpful to note that many of the features of the previous framework have been retained. These features include:
the underpinning of ECTs’ rights and entitlements in statutory guidance;
a right to a 10% reduction in teaching time during the first year of induction, supplemented by a right to a 5% reduction in teaching time in the second year of induction;
appropriate bodies having a legal duty to oversee induction arrangements in the settings for which they are responsible, ensure that legal obligations are being met and to intervene when there are problems;
no statutory limit on the time after the award of QTS that induction must be started or on how long ECTs will have to complete it;
the types of setting in which induction can be served;
the right to undertake short term supply work within a period of five years after the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS);
assessment during and at the end of induction against the teachers’ standards only - the ECF is not an assessment framework but sets out the way in which the ECT can progress towards meeting the standards;
scope to curtail induction for those with significant prior experience or to extend it for those new teachers not meeting the teachers’ standards at the end of the induction period; and
a prohibition those deemed to have failed induction from working as in roles that require QTS.
While there are a significant number of changes to current induction arrangements under the ECF, those reforms of particular note are described below.
The length of the induction period has increased from one to two years under the ECF for those teachers working on a full-time basis.
While it is intended that the induction period should be lengthened on a pro rata basis for ECTs working part time, it is recognised that this could lead to an overly long induction period for some ECTs. The statutory guidance, therefore, makes provision for agreement to be reached between an ECT working under a part-time contract, their employer and the appropriate body to assess whether induction has been completed successfully after the ECT has been working for at least two years.
However, it is important to recognise that the content of the ECF is such that it is usually not appropriate or manageable for part-time teachers to work through the programme at the same pace as those on full-time contracts. The timing and number of ECT activities should be organised so that they can be covered over the course of the induction period.
Induction is designed to be undertaken in the equivalent of two years for a teacher working full-time. For the majority of ECTs on part-time contracts, this will mean that the overall length of induction will need to be longer than two years.
ECTs have an entitlement to a 10% reduction in teaching time during the first year of induction and to a 5% reduction in their second year. This time is included in directed time and all compulsory induction-related activities should be identified as part of an ECT’s directed time. Further information is available on our Directed Time (England) page.
The reduction in timetabled teaching is allocated on a pro rata basis for ECTs with part-time contracts. In all cases, the reduction in time should equate to 10% of the total amount of teaching time an ECT is contractually entitled to undertake during the equivalent of the first full-time year of induction and 5% during the second year.
Previously, schools and other settings in which NQTs were deployed had significant freedom over the nature of the induction experience, subject to statutory requirements, and were under no obligations in terms of the types and nature of professional development opportunities offered to NQTs. One of the intended aims of the ECF is to bring greater consistency to induction in this respect and, therefore, all induction programmes will need to reflect the framework’s provisions.
There are three broad approaches that settings can take to meeting this requirement, described in further detail below, but all programmes will include key elements including content on:
- professional behaviours.
Headteachers or principals must allocate both an induction tutor and an induction mentor to every ECT. The induction tutor is expected to hold QTS and their main function is to assess the ECT against the teachers’ standards. The induction tutor is responsible for determining the ECTs progress towards the standards and to ensure that appropriate action is taken where the ECT may be experiencing difficulties. It is legal requirement on all employers to ensure that the induction tutor has the time to carry out their duties effectively and to meet the needs of the ECTs for whom they are responsible. This time should be made available during the mentor and ECT’s directed time.
In all but exceptional circumstances, the headteacher or principal must ensure that for each ECT, a person different to the tutor is identified to serve the ECT’s mentor. The mentor’s core role is to support the training and development of each ECT and it is a legal requirement that they are given the time need to fulfil this role effectively and that they are appropriately trained to ensure that the requirements of the ECF are met. Each mentor should receive appropriate training directly. It is not appropriate that mentors should receive formal training from other mentors.
The DfE’s guidance for schools makes clear that schools should timetable ECT and mentor sessions during teaching hours wherever possible. Where there are good reasons why this cannot happen, sessions should continue to take place within directed time. The DfE’s guidance confirms that it is the responsibility of the headteacher and the appropriate body to ensure that these expectations are met. The approach to the delivery of the ECF chosen by schools will also have implications for the financial support they receive for mentor training. Further details are set in the section on funding below.
In exceptional circumstances, it is recognised that a setting may have little practical option but to appoint a single individual to undertake both the tutor and the mentor roles. In such cases, the statutory guidance makes clear that safeguards would need to be put in place so that the support and the assessment functions of both roles are not conflated.
The NASUWT believes that teachers undertaking the mentoring role should be paid an additional TLR allowance in accordance with the provisions of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) in maintained schools or according to equivalent provisions in academies and free schools.
The DfE’s overview document is clear that the introduction of a two-year induction should have no adverse implications for the pay progression of ECTs. Specifically, the introduction of two-year induction does not mean that pay progression is halted until induction has been completed. The DfE amended the STPCD to this end to set out that the formal assessments undertaken during induction are the appropriate mechanism for the performance review that will inform decisions on pay progression for ECTs. Under the provisions of the STPCD, pay decisions must be clearly attributable to the performance of the teacher in question.
In those schools where decisions on pay progression remain related to the outcomes of performance management, the NASUWT will insist that the DfE’s commitment on the pay progression of ECTs is reflected unambiguously in pay policies.
The statutory guidance for appropriate bodies confirms that they have a critical role to play in ensuring that ECTs and mentors receive their statutory entitlements.
A central function of the appropriate body is to ensure that the provisions of the statutory guidance on induction are being implemented in every setting in which induction is being undertaken. In particular, it is the duty of the appropriate body to monitor the compliance with legal requirements, including the full range of entitlements for ECTs and mentors set out in this guidance and to take steps to put matters right where there are problems.
The DfE is implementing changes to the ways in which appropriate bodies operate and to the types of organisation that can act as appropriate bodies. Further information about these changes is available on our Changes to the Role of Appropriate Bodies (England) page.
In ensuring that induction arrangements are consistent with the provisions of the ECF, schools and other settings employing ECTs can choose from one of three delivery models:
A funded provider-led programme (also referred to as the ‘full’ induction programme) - Settings using this approach access a programme from six DfE-accredited providers which will ‘design and deliver a comprehensive programme of face-to-face and online training’. The training and support for ECTs and mentors delivered through these programmes are fully funded by the DfE. Schools can access the provider-led programme through their teaching school hub or by contacting a preferred provider directly. Not all settings can choose from all six providers, although at least one provider is available to each. In the 2021/22 academic year, over 90% of ECTs undertook induction on a full induction programme basis.
Schools delivering their own training using DfE materials and resources (also referred to as the ‘core’ induction programme) - In this model, schools make use of materials produced for the DfE to deliver their own programmes of ECT and mentor support. Schools using this model do not have access to an external provider and are subject to fidelity checks by appropriate bodies to ensure that their programmes are consistent with ECF requirements.
Schools designing and delivering their own programmes based on the ECF (also referred to as the ‘school-based’ induction programme) - Schools opting for this approach use the Early Career Framework to develop and deliver their own programmes without the support of an external provider. This approach is also subject to fidelity checks by appropriate bodies.
The DfE’ guidance for schools recommends that schools do not change to a different training delivery method part-way through an ECT’s induction period. The NASUWT’s advice is that schools should only do this if it is genuinely unavoidable and, where justified, happens at the end of a school year rather than during it if possible.
While, as noted above, assessment will continue to take place with reference to the teachers’ standards, the lengthening of the induction period involves a new schedule of assessments and reviews. Under the ECF, ECTs are subject to formal assessments at the end of their first and second years of induction. They will undertake progress reviews at the end of their first, second, fourth and fifth terms. The statutory induction guidance confirms that schools are expected to share the outcomes of progress reviews with the appropriate body.
ECTs must also have one-to-one mentoring sessions with their designated mentor, be observed teaching periodically during their induction with written feedback provided and have the opportunity to work alongside other teachers to observe and develop their practice.
ECTs are not included in the performance management or appraisal arrangements that schools apply to other teachers. Assessment of ECTs’ effectiveness is undertaken through the induction process.
The DfE has confirmed that all state funded schools providing induction will receive additional funding to cover the 5% reduction in teaching time in the second year of induction as well as funding to cover the second year of mentor time based on 20 hours of mentoring per ECT. The DfE’s current position remains that additional funding for the first year of induction is not necessary as schools will have had to meet these costs if the previous arrangements had remained in place. Further details of funding levels and payment arrangements are set out in the DfE’s ECF funding overview document.
Schools adopting the provider-led induction model will receive additional funding to cover backfill for 36 hours of mentor training over a two-year period. Currently, this funding is not available for schools that select the ‘core’ or ‘school based’ approaches to ECF delivery.
NQTs who have begun but not completed their induction before September 2021 will have until September 2023 to complete induction within the current one-year requirement. The remainder of their induction should, wherever possible, be undertaken in a way that is consistent with the requirements of the ECF and the revised statutory guidance. Any such NQT not completing their induction by this date will be subject to the two-year induction requirement but can offset all of their previously completed induction time against this two-year requirement.
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