Teacher training

Five changes to the ECF to better back trainee teachers

Damian Hinds explains how reforms announced today will tackle teething problems with the early career framework identified by schools and the sector

Damian Hinds explains how reforms announced today will tackle teething problems with the early career framework identified by schools and the sector

30 Jan 2024, 0:02

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There can be no great schools without great teachers. We depend on them to make knowledge meaningful, to spark curiosity and to motivate our children. The quality of teaching matters more than anything else in a school to improve pupil outcomes, and it matters even more for disadvantaged pupils and those with additional needs.

That is why, despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Department for Education prioritised reforming the training and support that all teachers receive. As part of this, we implemented the Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms in the 2021/22 academic year to give all early-career teachers two years of structured training and support, backed by £130 million of funding every year.

With 96 per cent of schools taking up the fully-funded ECF training offer, and all ECF providers now rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, we’re on a promising path. Yet, this is a long-term reform agenda, requiring continued investment and improvement.

We have now concluded an in-depth review of both the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) and the ECF, which underpin the training that all trainees and teachers receive in their crucial first years in the profession.

This review has enabled us to listen to what teachers, mentors and schools think. Along with input from sector experts, this feedback has helped us to identify five key areas where there was room for improvement. Today, we’re announcing the changes we’re making to address these.

A coherent journey

First, to address areas of unnecessary repetition between ITT and early-career training, we’ve merged the CCF and ECF into a single framework. The new framework – the Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework (ITTECF) – underpins an entitlement to a 3-year introduction to the core body of expertise that defines great teaching.

Having a single framework will create a more coherent journey between ITT and early-career training. We will ask ECF providers to ensure courses are designed to build on prior learning, with delivery tailored to each early-career teacher’s development needs – supported by new diagnostic tools.

Subject specificity

Second, we’ve heard of the need to better support early-career teachers to relate their training to their context and subject. To address this, ECF providers will develop enhanced subject-specific materials, and Oak National Academy will collaborate with providers to further enrich their subject-specific materials. Mentors will receive improved resources to tailor their support to the context and needs of teachers.

Adaptiveness and responsiveness

Third, in recognition of the challenges new teachers experience in supporting pupils with additional needs, we’re significantly expanding the framework’s focus on adaptive teaching and SEND. Enhanced SEND exemplification materials will be a key feature of the updated ECF programmes.

Fourth, the sector told us the frameworks need to keep pace with developments to the evidence base on effective teaching.

The independent Education Endowment Foundation oversaw a review of the framework statements and underpinning evidence, and we have included new statements based on the latest available evidence. Along with SEND, this includes statements on high-quality oral language and early cognitive development.

Mentoring capacity

Finally, we’re addressing mentor workload. While support for mentors was hardwired in from the start of these reforms, workload is too high. By shortening ECF mentor training to one year and providing ready-to-use resources, we’re freeing up mentors to focus on nurturing new talent.

We have also made up to £25 million available to schools and providers to increase mentoring capacity and enable ITT mentors time off to undertake training. 

Every time I visit a school, I witness the extraordinary dedication and creativity of our teachers. I am committed to supporting them through our teacher development reforms. I want this country to be the best place to become a great teacher. These improvements are not just policy changes; they’re a pledge to back our teachers for the long term.

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