New teachers won’t have to extend induction because of Covid absence

New teachers will be able to progress to second-year induction even if they miss more than 30 days, with Covid absences discounted

New teachers will be able to progress to second-year induction even if they miss more than 30 days, with Covid absences discounted

29 Mar 2022, 11:23

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Early-career teachers won’t have to extend their induction period because of Covid absences this year after the government relaxed the rules.

ECTs, previously known as newly-qualified teachers, have to undergo a two-year induction period, up from one year after training and development reforms were introduced in September.

Normally if they are absent for 30 days or more in a year, their induction period is automatically extended for the same number of days. If teachers move schools, this extension must be for a whole term.

But the Department for Education has now loosened these rules for ECTs, in a sign of Covid’s continued impact on staff absence rates.

It announced today that any Covid-related absences will not count towards the 30-day limit.

Such absences include not only sickness but also self-isolation and school closures between September 2021 and the end of this academic year.

“This means that after the new regulations come into force, ECTs can continue into their second year of induction as expected, without automatic extensions relating to COVID-19 absence,” said the DfE.

Transitional ECTs who began induction before September 1 2021 “can complete induction”, the DfE added.

“We recognise the Omicron Covid-19 variant may have had an impact on the number of absences ECTs have taken during the 2021 to 2022 academic year.”

Almost 1 in 10 teachers off due to Covid

The most recent official figures show 9.1 per cent of teachers and school leaders were off work on March 17, up from 5.8 per cent two weeks previously. Around one in four schools reported more than 15 per cent of teachers and leaders were absent.

The DfE recently stopped recording reasons for absence, however, making it impossible to see how many staff are off because of Covid or other reasons.

The 30-day absence limit for ECTs will remain in place for non-Covid absences. The regulations are also expected to only come into force on April 18.

The DfE said this means there may be a “small number” of ECTs who complete their induction before that date, and “could potentially have their induction period automatically extended”.

But it said the vast majority of teachers were due to complete their induction only after the rules change.

The DfE said heads, induction tutors and relevant bodies should still “consider exercising their discretion to recommend an extension” if needed because of concerns over ECTs’ performance, however.

It comes after the government similarly relaxed requirements for trainees earlier in their careers over the pandemic.

Earlier this month it said requirements that trainees teach in at least two schools and courses cover four consecutive school years will be waived during initial teacher training under certain conditions.

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