For early career teachers (ECTs), induction has a very precise meaning. To be able to continue to teach without restrictions in maintained schools, non-maintained special schools in England, maintained nursery schools, maintained children’s centres and pupil referral units, you must successfully complete the required induction period, equivalent to three terms of teaching, by meeting the Teachers’ Standards (England) or Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership (Wales).

Term three of year one of the ECF

First formal assessment point

For most ECTs, the first formal assessment is this term. 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.

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, which the ECF was designed for.

Pay Progression

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.

Induction changed in September 2021 

The Early Career Framework (ECF) is a new two-year, mentor-led package of support that is in national rollout this academic year 2021-22. The DfE guidance on this can be found here.

September marked a change to the induction period, as it increases from 3 to 6 terms for new teachers starting their induction from September 2021 onwards. From this date, NQTs will be 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. 

Materials from the ECF providers were made available to all in 2020-21 and can be accessed at the DFE here.

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. 

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 take: 

  • 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 the ECF and if there is likely to be other early career teachers at the school.

DfE guidance

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.

The NEU’s position on the ECF

The NEU is supportive of the aims of the ECF and has long called for better CPD and support for early teachers. We are clear that the success of the ECF is dependent on full funding for schools to train mentors to deliver support effectively, to fund time off timetable for both the mentor and early career teacher, and for the CPD to be delivered. 

We support our members’ engagement with ECF and will work with members and the DfE to ensure that the ECF gives new teachers what they need to thrive. We have concerns about how the ECF will be delivered in practice across all schools and to all ECTs, as well as the timeliness of mentor training; we will keep a watchful eye in the early days of the ECF.

It is the NEU’s position that a two year induction should be no barrier to pay progression at the end of the teacher’s first year; that yearly pay progression should be assumed. 

On recruitment and retention , the NEU says the following

  • Government policy on teacher pay and workload, and the high-stakes accountability system, makes it more difficult to recruit, retain and support teachers.  We regularly share our concerns with DfE officials. 
  • Deep-rooted teacher recruitment and retention problems remain, including the high number of teachers leaving within a few years of entering the profession. 
  • Unfair restrictions on pay progression including for new teachers contribute to those problems.  Teachers should instead be supported and rewarded as they acquire skills and expertise. 
  • We also need to support experienced teachers so that they can mentor new teachers.  That means effective action to reduce the workload of experienced teacher so that they have time to support new teachers; and improving the pay of experienced teachers so that they don't leave and take with them expertise that is useful to new teachers and to the education system as a whole. 


    Induction guide and checklists