For early career teachers (ECTs), induction has a very precise meaning. To be able to continue to teach without restrictions in all state maintained schools and settings, you must successfully complete the required induction period, equivalent to six terms of teaching and continue to meet the Teachers’ Standards (England).
If you are an ECT starting your induction, you are part-way through your induction or starting the second year of induction, this is for you. Below are links to further guides.
For teachers who have started and paused induction before September 2021, a one year induction can be completed by September 2023 and they may still be referred to as NQTs. After that date, 6 terms of induction would need to be completed in total.
Induction changed in September 2021
The Early Career Framework (ECF) is a new two-year, mentor-led package of support that started in the academic year 2021-22. The DfE guidance on this can be found on GOV.UK.
September 2021 marked a change to the induction period, as it increased from 3 to 6 terms for new teachers starting their induction from September 2021 onwards – this is increased pro-rata for part-time ECTs. From this date, NQTs are known as ECTs (early career teachers) for the duration of their induction. The NEU expects the ECF to be a supportive measure, allowing early career teachers more time to show they fully meet the standards, as well as giving structured support from a programme that aims to encourage and engender a career-long culture of mentoring and professional development in schools.
As part of the recruitment and retention strategy, the DfE also introduces three new National Professional Qualifications from September 2021 – which replace the existing middle leader NPQ – focusing on behaviour and culture, leading teaching, and teacher development. The existing NPQML is still valid and courses already started can be completed.
Early career teachers are entitled to
- 10% extra non-contact time than other classroom teachers in the first year
- 5% extra non-contact time that other classroom teachers in their second year
- A named mentor to meet and discuss progress with regularly, in timetabled time
- A structured early CPD programme, delivered either by the school or by an ECF provider, which is based around the ECF content, in timetabled time
- Two formal assessment points the end of terms 3 and 6, plus informal assessment points in other terms
- A ‘no surprises’ approach to assessments – the early career teacher’s performance should be discussed regularly by the mentor and the teacher
How the course is delivered
There are three routes for schools to choose from:
- FIP – Provider led model, under which the provider trains the mentor and delivers the course content
- CIP – School use the provider materials but trains its own mentors and delivers the course themselves or in partnership with other schools
- School's own programme – School chooses to develop and deliver their own programme based upon the ECF principles
When you are applying for jobs as an ECT, find out from the school how they will deliver and support you through the ECF and if there is likely to be other early career teachers at the school.
You must be registered with an Appropriate Body (AB) at the start of your induction period in order for your induction to be valid. Check that your school has done this by asking for details of your AB if they are not given to you right at the start. The AB is the organisation that will validate your completion of the induction period and can step in if serious issues arise. If you move schools during induction, your AB might change, so ensure you have been registered at the start of any new employment that is part of your induction.
Making the ECF content work for you
It is important that all of the units of the ECF are covered, but the DfE has confirmed some flexibility with the content coverage.
First, where an ECT is competent and confident in an area, not every single piece of reading and work must be done. ECTs and their mentors should allow their professional conversations to guide them as to the level of depth each part needs to be gone through and they should contextualize the course materials to make relevant to them.
Secondly, mentors can access the whole of the ECF curriculum, so that if there are concepts that would be useful to cover earlier than planned, mentors can build these into their sessions. The DfE would prefer the content to be covered in the overall sequence presented but the NEU believes these decisions should be in the preserve of the ECT and their mentor.
These stated flexibilities are welcome but the NEU also understands that time is of a premium for teachers and their mentors, and it is not always possible to cover all the content and give good day to day support, in the allotted time. The NEU continues to press the DfE on this and other associated issues.
As the NEU reminds you elsewhere, the ECF is not a course in itself to pass or fail, although your engagement with it is a requirement; successful completion of Induction is by reference to the teacher standards.
First formal assessment point
For most ECTs, the first formal assessment is in term three. You should remember, and remind your mentor or Induction Tutor if necessary, that this assessment should hold no surprises as you should have had informal progress reviews in terms one and two. Also, that the two year induction reflects the fact that for most new teachers, a two year period of support is needed to meet the Teacher Standards. Schools should allow you the full period to show that competency. If you feel you are being treated unfairly or you are being told you are at risk of failing induction, contact your NEU branch or our Advice Line immediately.
The DfE guidance on Induction is clear, and the NEU emphasises, that a two-year induction should be no barrier to pay progression. School pay policies that stipulate passing Induction leads to the first point of progression should be brought to the attention of the NEU, as this is against statutory guidance.
The Union is also keen to hear from Black, disabled or pregnant members, as well as members on maternity leave denied pay progression, as there is growing evidence that trainees and ECTs from these groups are disproportionately adversely impacted by pay arrangements.
Early Career Framework (ECF) Second Year
In your second year as an ECT, you are still entitled to time off in addition to PPA time; this year an extra 5% instead of 10%, to undertake ECF related CPD. You should also have time scheduled to meet with your mentor regularly, although do not expect this to be as much as in the first year. The ECF gives a schedule of sessions to follow and you are expected to engage with these. Do remember, though, that the ECF is not a course in itself to pass; you will be assessed to pass induction on your teaching and in-school work, as has always been the case for teachers on induction.
Your mentor should be mindful of your progress and you should discuss with them the support you feel to you need to continue to make progress in the second year. You will have informal progress reviews in terms four and five, with your final formal assessment point towards the end of term six of induction. Your mentor should keep a record of your discussions and progress reviews, and it is a good idea for you to do so too. You should not be asked to complete additional paperwork for assessment purposes, the things you have created anyway for use in your planning, teaching and assessment of pupils, should be used for this purpose.
If any concerns are raised about your performance in year two, please, contact the NEU as soon as possible.
Reducing induction length
If your school tells you that you meet the Teacher Standards and there is no need to do a second year of Induction, that they can pass you now and reduce the Induction period, approach this with extreme caution. There are some limited circumstances under which the Induction period can be reduced; for example, for an ECT who has a lot of prior teaching experience, perhaps unqualified before gaining QTS. The school would have to apply to the Appropriate Body who would have to sign this off, and the ECT would have to be in agreement.
However, this should come with a big health warning – once out of induction, you are subject to normal school appraisal and should the school then raise concerns about your performance, there is not the support or protections of the Induction period to lean on. The 5% timetable reduction for second year ECTs would not apply, nor would time with your mentor be scheduled or funded. In addition, you would not have access to the CPD that second year ECTs would be getting via the ECF. You have the right to a two year induction and support, for which the ECF was designed.
The DfE has produced three “myth buster” documents to clarify some common misunderstandings about the ECF arrangements and expectations. These are very clear and helpful.
ECF induction and training:
- Additional information for early career teachers – Manage training for early career teachers (education.gov.uk)
- Additional information for mentors – Manage training for early career teachers (education.gov.uk)
- Additional information for school leaders – Manage training for early career teachers (education.gov.uk)