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Early Career Framework (ECF)

1. Introduction

The Early Career Framework (ECF) is transforming the support and development offer for teachers at the start of their career. From September 2021, all early career teachers (ECT) - a newly qualified teacher in their first or second year of induction - will be entitled to an ‘ECF induction’.

This entitles early career teachers to two years of support including:

  • 2 years of new, funded, high-quality training available either as a Full Induction Programme (FIP), Core Induction Programme (CIP) or school-based programme (see below)
  • funding for 5% time away from the classroom for teachers in their second year
  • a dedicated mentor and support for these mentors including access to funded high-quality training

Schools receive:

  • Funding to cover mentors’ time with the mentee in the second year of teaching
  • Further funding for schools opting for the Full Induction Programme (FIP) to backfill for mentors to take part in training (36 hours over 2 years)

2. Programme options

Schools, not ECTs, have three choices in terms of how they provide an ECF-based induction:

Full Induction Programme (FIP)

Schools are encouraged by the Department for Education (DfE) to choose a Full Induction Programme (FIP) approach to induction. This is a free-to-use programme that offers high-quality training for early career teachers and their mentors delivered by an external provider that compliments the self-study and mentor sessions. This is the easiest option for schools and schools benefit from the highest level of financial investment made by DfE.

Fidelity checks by the appropriate body

Where schools opt for the Full Induction Programme, which includes materials and funded training, the appropriate body does not need to carry out ECF fidelity checks. This is because the providers of Full Induction Programmes will already be subject to separate quality assurance through Ofsted and contract management to ensure their training provides fidelity to the ECF.

Core Induction Programme (CIP)

Schools opting for the Core Induction Programme (CIP) approach to induction will be able to draw upon the ECF materials developed by lead providers (national organisations commissioned by DfE to create the materials) but they will need to self-fund the design and deliver the early-career teacher and mentor training themselves. 

The early-roll out CIP resources can be viewed here. This will move to the new DfE portal in summer 2021.

Fidelity checks by the appropriate body

Where schools deliver induction through a Core Induction Programme , additional quality assurance will be necessary by the appropriate body in order to safeguard ECTs’ entitlement to an ECF-based induction.

School-based programme

Schools opting to use a school-based programme of induction will receive no support from the Department for Education (DfE) in creating or procuring their own programme, subject or phase-specific coaching, and training for mentors in line with the Statutory Guidance.

Fidelity checks by the appropriate body

Schools delivering their own induction programmes will require an appropriate body to check these have been designed and delivered with fidelity to the ECF. This means that training and support provided to the ECT has covered the ECF evidence statements in sufficient breadth and depth.

3. Funding

The ECF is free to schools. Details of the funding schools will receive in the second year of induction are available here (DfE website) and here (download). Schools in West Yorkshire will receive:

  • per Early Career Teacher: £1,200 to fund 5% off timetable in the second year of induction for all early career teachers in state schools
  • per mentor: £900 to fund time for mentors to support ECTs in the second year of induction in state schools (20 hours)
  • Full Induction programme (FIP) only: Schools will receive additional funding to backfill mentors to access training from the lead provider (estimate £800-900)
  • Full Induction Programme (FIP) only for the first and second year of induction: ECF lead providers will be paid directly by the DfE, so schools will not face any payment burdens.

N.B. No additional DfE Funding is provided in the first year of induction for the time an ECT to undertakes induction activities or for the mentor to undertake mentoring as this is already included in school's core National Funding Formula (NFF) grant. Grants are paid in arrears to the school employing the ECT at the end of their second year of induction.

DfE guidance: Key information

UPDATED MAY 2021: Follow this link to access diagrams that summarise:

  • The changes to induction
  • The differences between the FIP, CIP and school-based programme offer from the DfE
  • Details of the FIP offer from the DfE
  • Funding differences between programmes
  • The National Professional Qualifications

4. Early roll-out of the ECF in Bradford in 2020-21

Bradford schools supported the 'piloting' of the ECF through engaging with the early roll-out during 2020-21 for NQTs and 2021-22 as these colleagues became RQTs. Four lead providers worked with schools and trusts in the city. However, this is superseded by the national roll-out for all early career teachers joining schools from September 2021.

Ideally, schools and early career teachers involved in the pilot during 2020-21 should continue their engagement with their current early roll-out lead provider. This is likely to mean for 2021-22 some schools - those with at least one NQT and RQT - will engage with two lead providers offer as the early roll-out continues for the RQT (to July 2022) and the new lead provider for the region begins delivery for the NQT (from September 2021) as part of the national roll-out.

5. Registering for the Full Induction Programme (FIP) or Core Induction Programme (CIP) for September 2021

In summer 2021, schools will be invited by the Department for Education (DfE) to register on their portal and to indicate their ECF induction preference - either the FIP or CIP. Later in the summer, they will register the number of ECTs to be employed in their school from September 2021 so that the lead provider and their delivery partner for the region (see below) is aware of their need.

Please note: Schools register, not individual ECTs.

6. National roll-out from September 2021: Bradford Teaching School Hub and Ambition Institute

In March 2021, the Department for Education (DfE) commissioned six national providers to deliver the Early Career Framework (ECF). Each lead providers of the ECF has partnered with a small number of delivery partners across the country. The DfE expect lead providers to work closely with teaching schools hubs as their delivery partner for their region. Bradford Teaching School Hub is a delivery partner of Ambition Institute. The Hub will deliver the ECF Full Induction Programme (FIP) developed by Ambition Institute to all schools opting for the FIP, regardless of phase or type, in Bradford and our formal partner schools and trusts beyond Bradford.

Bradford Teaching School Hub undertook a rigorous due diligence process with the lead providers over many months to inform the final decision to partner with Ambition Institute. This included attending DfE events; numerous meetings with providers; the sharing of experiences and information with other teaching school hubs; consideration of our ethical goals and strategy for supporting the region; and reviewing the early roll-out materials.

7. The Full Induction Programme (FIP) with Bradford Teaching School Hub and Ambition Institute

The information here is intended to provide a brief introduction to the Ambition Institute offer that Bradford Teaching School Hub will deliver from September 2021. More detail will be provided in due course online and via events during the summer term 2021 for schools opting for the FIP.

Principles of the programme

The programme draws on the best available evidence, alongside the ECF, to help craft a set of experiences that will help ECTs keep getting better during this critical period in their career. Key features of the mastery programme include:

  • Regular, bite-sized learning: Evidence from the science of learning suggests that we can only focus on a few things at once and that we tend to forget a lot of what we learn, especially when it is organised into one big block (Sweller, 2016). There is more chance of making progress when our learning is spread out and part of a regular, frequent routine.
  • Examples of classroom practice: Understanding the theory is important but it’s also critical that teachers and mentors get to see what this looks like in practice (Rosenshine, 2012; Sweller, van Merrienboer & Paas, 1998). As part of our materials, we include videos of what the ECF looks like in a variety of classroom settings.
  • Practice makes permanent: If we are to change the outcomes and life chances of our pupils, we must change how teachers teach. Sustained changes in teaching generally occur only if we keep practising those changes (Deans for Impact, 2016). This programme puts practice at the heart of teacher learning.
  • Familiar routines: The life of an early career teacher is full-on. To ensure this programme doesn’t add unnecessary complexity, we have designed it around a set of simple, repeating professional development patterns. This means everyone can spend less time thinking about the process and more time thinking about great teaching.

To make the most of this programme we recommend you:

  • Tailor it to your context: We have designed a comprehensive programme but also one that should be able to flex quite a lot and still deliver (Cordingley et al., 2015). If you consistently study and get coached on powerful ideas, improvement will follow. When and how you apply your knowledge matters much less. Flexibility with the ECF curriculum should be utilised to aid the development of the ECT remembering the ECF is their entitlement. Weekly mentor meetings must take place.
  • Go with it: It may not always be clear why a certain topic is in a certain place on the programme. However, we have thought carefully about the sequencing to ensure you come across the right ideas at the best times and revisit them lots to ensure they take hold (Dunlosky et al., 2013).

Programme design

You will find it helpful to download the following resource prepared by Bradford Teaching School Hub as you read the next section:

The sequence
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The programmes strands: Behaviour (autumn term); Instruction/pedagogy (spring term); and Subject/curriculum (summer term). These largely go from simple to complex as the ECT progress through the strand during the term. Likewise, the ordering of the strands themselves goes from concrete (for example an entry routine) to abstract (for example the types of knowledge pupils need to learn).

The sequence is intended to be worked through in order. It has been designed to allow for roughly a one-hour weekly meeting in the first year. In the second year, mentor meetings should occur roughly once every fortnight. Given the differing needs of the teacher and the range of complexity of the module’s content, time spent mentoring might slightly vary from week to week.

Coverage of the ECF happens across multiple modules

The programme refers back to concepts repeatedly. As a result, all of the ‘learn that’ or ‘learn how to’ statements are rarely covered in full during any one week. For example, a week might have a focus on 1.3 from the Early Career Framework:

1.3 Teacher expectations can affect pupil outcomes; setting goals that challenge and stretch pupils is essential.

This concept won’t be learned in just one week – it will need to be returned to multiple times and from multiple different perspectives to really become embedded. The modules are structured to achieve this.

Modules are the combination of multiple contributing pieces

Every module has several different pieces, including:

  • An evidence summary provides a concise overview of the research relating to the module.
  • A quiz and reflection enable mentors and NQTs to consider the evidence in light of their knowledge and experiences.
  • A video that shows what the module looks like in practice.
  • Weekly instructional coaching draws on this material and tailors the weekly focus to the specific context and needs of the teacher.
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Sample the resources

The early roll-out Core Induction Programme materials can be accessed here to provide an example of the type of resources ECTs and mentors will engage with.

N.B. These resources will not be publicly available from summer 2021. The DfE will move these to a password-protected portal.

Bridging the 'know it/do it' gap

The programme aims to ensure teachers are able to acquire all the ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ statements from the Early Career Framework. To ensure that the ‘learn how to’ statements are embedded into practice, our weekly modules are organised by practical, coachable classroom development areas. 

The evidence summary by itself might not include all the ECF ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ statements for the module. Only when combined do these pieces cover all the module outcomes.

As a rough rule of thumb, the ‘learn that’ statements are primarily covered in the evidence summaries and the ‘learn how to’ statements in the videos and coaching sessions.

Make sense clinics and conferences

Conferences are, wherever possible, face-to-face professional development events.

Some content will be covered directly in clinics and conferences only because it involves increased contextualisation or isn’t directly observable in everyday teaching. For example:

  • Teacher workload
  • Pupil wellbeing
  • Working with parents & carers

Additionally, our weekly modules need to be suitable for every teacher in every context, in every week of teaching. This means that in some school contexts, some content isn’t as easily seen during an observation. Even where some of these concepts are observable, in some instances it isn’t always appropriate to select a precise target for that area. These include concepts such as:

  • SEND
  • Working with TAs
  • Early literacy

Where relevant, mentors will be encouraged to include content from clinics and conferences in their coaching conversations. For example, when talking about working on subject knowledge with an Early Years teacher, it is entirely appropriate to set a precise target to do with early literacy. Likewise, because support for all pupils (including those with special educational needs and disabilities) will run throughout the programme, targets are not just appropriate but expected, depending on the needs of the classroom and the teacher.

Clinics and conferences are an important part of the experience. Consider how you might support your teacher to contextualise their learning for your unique context. Likewise, help your mentor to see how they might include additional content into their coaching.

Roles and mentor training

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Induction Lead/Coordinator/Tutor

The induction lead is responsible for ensuring all ECTs get their entitlement and the assessment of the ECT against the Teaching Standards. The assessment remit should be separate from the mentoring role. The ECF programme accommodates a purposeful pause in delivery at the time assessments (once per year) are being made.

Mentor training

It isn't just the ECT that the programme invests in. It recognises the importance of mentors and a programme of training is provided for these experienced teachers and leaders to help them engage with research, develop their skills and confidence for the role and impact more widely on their school.

Mentors engage in:

  • A conference before ECF delivery commences, usually in June or July
  • A conference at the end of the ECTs first year of induction
  • Three mentor peer learning groups - two in the first year of the ECTs induction and one in the second - to allow you to network with colleagues undertaking your role in other schools. This is a great opportunity to share successes and challenges and explore how others have addressed them
  • Three 1:1 coaching on coaching sessions to support you to develop your mentoring skills
  • By acting as a mentor you access the same research summaries and videos as your ECT. This is great CPD for you as well as your ECT; you may wish to disseminate aspects of this to your colleagues in school
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StepLab is the online tool that support early career teachers and mentors to engage with the ECF Full Induction Programme. Here's a brief demo, but we'll support ECTs and mentors to engage with the tool via our offer:

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8. Appropriate Body for early career teacher induction

From September 2021, induction becomes a two-year process rather than one year. Schools will need to select a rigorous and robust Appropriate Body (AB) to quality assure the indication and assessment of their ECT. In light of the changes, schools should seek to commission the services of an AB that offers more than the minimum requirements. The alignment of the AB service and ECF delivery will be an advantage that teaching schools hubs can offer. Details on Bradford Teaching School Hub's school-led AB service are available here.

Schools should be familiar with Induction for early career teachers (England): Statutory guidance for appropriate bodies, headteachers, school staff and governing bodies (March 2021). This guidance includes:

  • information on the role of appropriate bodies
  • ways in which appropriate bodies can prepare for the changes to statutory induction
  • example forms to help appropriate bodies ensure early career teachers are receiving their statutory entitlements

Appropriate bodies will have a role in checking that early career teachers are receiving a programme of support and training based on the ECF. This will be alongside their current role ensuring that new teachers receive their statutory entitlements and are fairly and consistently assessed.

Schools who choose to deliver their own induction programmes, whether using Department for Education (DfE) accredited materials or the ECF itself, will need to provide information to their appropriate body to demonstrate that their programme fulfils statutory requirements. Schools should contact their appropriate body for further details of what will be required in the summer term. This will not be required of schools that use a provider-led programme (Full Induction Programme (FIP)).

Details of the Bradford Teaching School Hub Appropriate Body service are available here:

9. Further DfE guidance

Details are published online by DfE, including the financial arrangements for schools.

10. Other guidance

The University of Central London (UCL) have developed generic guidance for schools and trust to consider to help prepare for the introduction of the ECF.