Better supporting teachers into and throughout their careers is central to reforms designed to make our schools the best place to be a teacher, writes Nick Gibb

Everyone across the country knows how challenging this past year has been for schools – for staff and pupils alike. Our teachers and school leaders have rightly won the admiration and appreciation of the entire country for their work to keep young people learning.

With pupils back in schools, and with the roadmap out of lockdown on track, there are reasons for optimism that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. At the same time, I am under no illusion as to what a toll the past year has had on the education and wellbeing of many pupils and teachers. That is why, looking ahead, there can be no more important focus for my department than the support and professional development we give to our teachers.

Put simply, there are no great schools without great teachers. As we set out in our teacher recruitment and retention strategy, we know that currently not enough teachers receive the high-quality support they need at the start to build the foundations for a successful career. This leads to too many teachers leaving within the first five years, with drop-out rates within the first two years particularly sharp.

We are determined to make sure every teacher has the strongest possible start to their career. That is why the Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms, rolling out nationally from September, are so significant.

Under the reforms, new teachers will benefit from a longer induction period of two years, replacing the previous one-year induction processes. This means they will have more time to access structured support and to develop their expertise and confidence.

The reforms will be backed by at least £130 million of government funding a year

The professional development they receive across these two years should be based on the ECF, which sets out the best available evidence on effective teaching practice. This will make sure early career teachers are focused on learning the things that will make the most difference in the classroom, such as the importance of establishing consistent classroom routines or taking into account pupils’ prior knowledge when lesson planning.

Our vision is for the ECF to build on high-quality Initial Teacher Training (ITT), so that all new teachers receive three years of structured training and support at the start of their careers, giving them the strong platform needed for a successful career.

To give them time to focus on their development, teachers will get a five per cent timetable reduction in their second year of teaching, on top of the ten per cent off timetable they already receive in their first year. They will also have a mentor, who will have access to funded training and materials to support them to carry out their role effectively.

The reforms will be backed by at least £130 million of government funding a year, which will cover that additional time off-timetable and time for mentors to spend with mentees in their second year when it is fully up and running.

To support schools now, we have published updated statutory induction guidance to help them understand the changes. We have also appointed six organisations who are ready to design and deliver comprehensive programmes of professional development for early career teachers and their mentors, funded by the DfE.

Our new national network of Teaching School Hubs, which are local centres of excellence in teacher development, will play a vital role in helping to deliver these programmes.

The ECF reforms are an important part of our education recovery plans and recognise that teachers deserve the best support available. They are a central component of our wider reforms to teacher development, spanning from initial teacher training through to system leadership, boosting the professional development available for teachers, and giving them plenty of opportunities to hone their skills and develop new ones.

I strongly believe that it is not enough for our education system to just be successful. Our ambitions are higher: we want nothing less than a world-leading education for every single child. For all their sakes, I want to ensure this country is the best place to become the best teacher.