Schools

Half of new teachers struggle to balance teaching and training

Government evaluation report also reveals three in four mentors have struggled to spend time on their own training

Government evaluation report also reveals three in four mentors have struggled to spend time on their own training

Around half of new teachers and their mentors have struggled to balance training and support with their teaching commitments, the government’s own evaluation of the early career framework (ECF) has found.

A report on the first term of the ECF, which was rolled out nationally last September, has been published today by the Department for Education.

The ECF extends the induction period for new teachers from one to two years, providing additional time off-timetable for second-year teachers.

But a survey of participants found 45 per cent of early career teachers (ECTs) found it difficult to spend time on provider-led training alongside their teaching workload, while 54 per cent of mentors found it difficult to spend time supporting their ECTs alongside teaching.

However, the report noted heavy workload was “also a theme” emerging from annual surveys of new teachers under the old system.

It follows warnings that difficulties with the reforms could result in schools taking on fewer early career teachers.

Seventy-three per cent of mentors said they struggled to spend time on their own training to be a mentor. Induction tutors also warned of workload issues, with 62 per cent reporting the workload was too much for mentors, and 52 per cent said it was too much for ECTs.

Findings echo school leaders’ workload fears

Schools Week revealed last month that nearly half of primary heads were considering taking on fewer early career teachers because of issues with the flagship reforms, with new mentors working at weekends to complete training.

Polling by Teacher Tapp found just 14 per cent of early career teachers and nine per cent of mentors thought the training was a good use of time.

Most said it had added “a lot” to their workload, with one training provider admitting mentors are completing training in the evenings and on Sundays.

In March, the schools minister Robin Walker promised extra flexibility for mentors, following complaints the reforms had become a “straightjacket”.

Under the ECF reforms, schools can either register for training from six government-approved lead providers, use DfE-accredited materials or design their own programme.

Today’s report shows 95 per cent of schools, 11,445 in total, are using the provider-led route, while only around 500 are using DfE materials and 100 schools are delivering their own training.

1 in 4 tutors preferred previous programmes

However, although 62 per cent of induction tutors said the provider-led induction programme was “on a par or better” than previous induction programmes, 26 per cent said they felt previous programmes were better.

The evaluation also pointed to problems with the tailoring of training to individual schools and teachers.

Thirty per cent of tutors and 27 per cent of teachers said the tailoring of ECT training was “poor”, while 31 per cent of tutors and 35 per cent of mentors said tailoring of mentoring training was poor.

The survey also identified difficulty using the DfE digital service and lead providers’ learning platforms, which created “challenges with onboarding, particularly delays in starting training which can impact on engagement”.

Twenty-six per cent of mentors and 30 per cent of tutors said onboarding of ECTs was poor, while a third of mentors and 31 per cent of tutors said onboarding of mentors needed improvement.

Thirty-nine per cent of mentors believed ECT provider-led training was too heavily balanced towards theory with “too little” applied content. Thirty-eight per cent said the same was the case for mentor training.

‘High levels of enthusiasm’

The report claimed that participants were “positive” about provide-led training, but did not provide a full breakdown of the survey results.

But there were also “high levels of enthusiasm” for the programme, with 65 per cent of mentors and 54 per cent of ECTs rating their enthusiasm between 7 and 10 out of 10.

Sixty-three per cent of induction tutors and mentors 48 per cent of mentors reported feeling satisfied with the programme, while 15 per cent and 22 per cent respectively said they were dissatisfied.

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