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Podcast | Season 1 | Episode 24: Supporting Early Career Teachers

England is facing a shortage of teachers, but what are schools currently doing to increase the appeal of the teaching profession and support Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) in their career? Listen to Debbie Clinton, Emma Hollis and Reuben Moore discuss what response is needed, focusing on professional development and wellbeing.

📘 Initial teacher training (ITT): core content framework

📎 Panel Discussion: Supporting Early Career Teachers

  • Understanding key challenges and opportunities for Newly Qualified Teachers: from workload to professional development
  • Discussing the impact of the government’s new Early Career Framework (ECF) to be implemented in Autumn 2021
  • Assessing the need for a fully-funded, 2 year package of structured training and support for early career teachers, in addition to the £12m tender for education and support providers
  • Looking ahead to the possible results of Samantha Twiselton’s ITT review for the government

💡 Chair: Debbie Clinton, Chief Executive Officer, Academy Transformation Trust (ATT)

💡 Reuben Moore, Executive Director, TeachFirst

💡 Emma Hollis, Executive Director, The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT)

🏫 This session was recorded live on 14th November 2019 in the Recruitment & Workforce Theatre of the Schools & Academies Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

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Debbie Clinton

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Debbie Clinton. I'm the CEO of Academy Transformation Trust, a national trust based across two distinct regions in England, but that is not relevant today. I'm here, I have the great honour actually, I'm in awe of these two. I'll be chairing a discussion today with two serious movers and shakers with regard to initial teacher education and ongoing career development for teachers. So more of them in a moment. But let's just do a little bit of scene setting, which is terribly important. It's a little bit morose, a little bit negative to start off with, but I promise you that we'll rev up and be very optimistic throughout the session. I hope we will anyway. The title of this session, as we know, is supporting early career teachers. So, in preparation for this, I just went back and reminded myself of some of the challenges that are facing us professionally. And I speak as a former teacher, well, I'm still qualified in theory, therein lies the story. So I could still teach what a terrible thought that would be. And, but with regard to the teacher workforce, we know we have some significant challenges. And I think these figures actually are quite scary. The last set of DfE school workforce census data, we know that the one year retention rate for teachers is 84.7%. That's not very good. But more worryingly still, which is really what today is driving at the five year retention rate is 67.7%. Now, aside from the naturally human cost of those figures, and the morality and the ethics around, people believe that they're failures in their careers, aside from all of that. What about the cost of the taxpayer training all of those people who then toggle off into something better as far as they're concerned?

So it is a significant issue for us and as a leader of a Multi Academy Trust. I'm very aware and we'll talk about perhaps our response to those figures later if I'm allowed to by by our guests. Alongside that we know that the Education Policy Institute most recent research talks about and this is their language, a severe shortage of teachers in the state education system period in England, and then a severe shortage of subject specific expertise in England. And they don't use the word severe lightly. I think the epi are not renowned for their linguistic gymnastics, they're very clear about what severity means. So that's the rather challenging background to this conversation. But what is lovely is we're going to talk about solutions and our response to those challenges. So without further ado, to my left, please introduce yourselves. Tell us who you are. And a little bit about your background, please.

Emma Hollis

Thank you. My name is Emma Hollis. I'm the Executive Director of NASBTT, which is the National Association for School Based Teacher Trainers. Essentially we're the umbrella organisation for all of the teachers training that takes place in a school centred environment and our membership trains collectively just over 8000 new teachers into the profession a year. So clearly, we're very interested in supporting those new teachers once they reach your schools. I've also had the pleasure of being working alongside Reuben and others on the ITT core content framework, which you will have seen was published early, just before we went into PURDAH earlier last month.

Reuben Moore

And my name is Reuben Moore, I'm the Executive Director of Programme Development at Teach First. Teach First has a vision that no child's educational success is limited by their background. It's a vision I'm sure that all of us share and coming to a conference like this. And we do that through training, developing and placing great teachers, supporting people to be brilliant leaders and schools, and to create a really thriving network for schools to use as support. And ultimately, we want to create a fair education for all. As Emma says, I was on the ITT content framework, the advisory group for the Department for Education, and also was on the advisory group for the early career framework and its development phase, and it was released in January of this year as part of the DfE's overall recruitment and retention strategy. So really looking forward to discussing the issues and the solutions you're writing.

Debbie Clinton

That's really helpful introduction. Thank you both. So let's start off with some quite practical questions about the early career framework in particular. So the early career framework for the for the audience's benefit, in my opinion, is just my opinion, makes a fantastic read. A, it's short, B, it's beautifully written, and C, I believe it to be very coherent, and I thought we might be interested to find out something about the process and the rationale behind it structure. And really you know what it's designed to do and please start us off.

Reuben Moore

So I think that the first thing that I would say about it is that it's, there's two, three, there's two words that come to mind when we were looking at it. We constantly as a group went back to these things, which was about ambition, and precision. So we wanted the early career framework to be ambitious, something that all teachers can use for their support when they're entering the profession. But also, we wanted it to be precise. And I think that's what you'll find within the early career framework is that it does have a level of precision that perhaps the teacher standards don't have and indeed weren't meant to half. So therefore, what you'll find is two columns that on the left hand column are statements which are researched and formed, and there is research as a very healthy extensive Bibliography as part of it all. Have those phrases on the left hand column represent empirical research, which we wrestled with the EF over and the EF saying it has to be stated like this. And then on the right hand column, there was that well, what's the practical application of that? What is the practical implication for new teachers? And I think, again, just the last thing I would say as a way of introduction would be, there is no way we wanted or we could, or we should, put everything in there. Being a teacher is a brilliant, wonderful, complex, challenging job. Trying to sum it up in a series of statements is a road to nowhere. So what we want to do to say what all new teachers need to develop and thrive through their through the first formative years to then ensure that they can have a sustainable career in teaching. So that's what we were trying to achieve.

Debbie Clinton

Thank you and what come to Emma in a second, if you don't mind? Well, I think they really, really good at a later point perhaps to hear the audience's view on the bibliography that you talk about which I've actually ploughed my way through. And, and the bibliography is actually again, in my view, quite an impressive piece of work. And to my knowledge, it's the first time that someone clearly greater brains than me, have actually plotted the research against the standards, which is a really important exercise. And perhaps we'll come back to that in our conversation. Emma, your perspective on the frameworks developed.

Emma Hollis

I just like to add one more word really to the to that Reuben gave us which was which were ambition and precision which are absolutely there in the document. And the other really important word for me in the whole discussion around the early career framework is entitlement. And we when the QTS consultation was first launched and the potential for two year induction period was introduced. On the whole, the sector were very open to that and they felt that that was a really good way forward. People are looking to enter the profession, however, initially took that from a very different perspective. And they thought that that meant two years of more scrutiny two years of being dumb to two years of having people question their every move asked them to provide lots of evidence, and there was a lot of worry and a lot of concern around it. And we hope that through our messaging, and through the ways that we've presented the document, it's really clear that that was never the intention behind this piece of work. The intention was for an entitlement for two years of support and development for people entering the profession. We were in a space where we were expecting people entering the profession after what really is a nine month training programme. We're suddenly placed in schools and almost expected to be finished, cooked ready to go and it was a real lottery as to whether you landed in a school who supported your professional development in those early years, or whether you landed in a school who was distracted by other things, and therefore you were left to get on with it. So what we're hoping to do with this document is to show that there is an entitlement to professional development support and mentoring in schools. And this gives the framework for schools to understand the minimum entitlement and Ruben was quite right, this is a minimum entitlement, schools will want to do more depending on their context, depending on their staff, depending on the individual needs of each teacher, but this gives the minimum.

Reuben Moore

I was just going to say what the other thing because again, I think some of these things are great. There's the document then what about the implementation because as we all know, great ideas can either be really well implemented or they can be diluted that you forget their original intention. And again, the Department for Education have been, I would say remarkably serious about how they're implementing this because, as some of you or many of you may well know that the DfE have decided to have an early a number of early rollout areas. So therefore, from September 2020, in the northeast, in Doncaster and in Manchester that they're piloting or there's an early rule out phase. So and they are being supported by a number of, of groups who can then really work with both the new teachers and their mentors, and old schools in those areas. And then from September 2021, once they've taken the learning from those early roll out areas, then it will be rolled out nationally and again, supported in the same sort of way.

Debbie Clinton

That's really helpful and just by way of a couple of additional facts for this conversation, and factor number one is in the early career framework, there is a clear statement from the department on the use and application of the framework, and there is a direct instruction actually written not to be used as an accountability tool, which is really interesting. And perhaps we could tease that out further in our conversations. And the second fact, which is interesting is that the early the early rollout, the pilot that Reuben has just talked about is being funded through a 42 million pound teacher development premium. I could see the acronym already. And, of course, what I'd like us to pursue together today as well as okay, that's fine. So that is actually a very small amount of money in total, in quite a large range of areas. So clearly, the intention, I'm sure for the government is to at least get this started. But then, of course for it to become self sufficient and self funded. So let's just think about perhaps that dimension too. It'd be really nice at this point, I think, to open the conversation around the early career framework to the floor, and to invite any particular questions. That'd be really, really helpful. Thank you any questions at this stage? In that case, I'm going to start with one because it might might get you go in let's see if it does.

Is it really important in my view messaging here, where the the early career framework takes those five key areas of professional development, and then maps them against the eight teacher standards. So I was just wondering why we didn't just take the eight teacher standards and do it the other way around, because they're the kind of mantra aren't they? For our teaching professions. Just again, your perspective on that, please.

Reuben Moore

I think the first thing to say I think it's a good question. And it's one of those things that again, I think a number of colleagues have said in the profession. And I think where we come from is that the standards, the teacher standards, first of all, they everybody said the teacher standards aren't changing, because I think every time you change standards, then the the implications on workload across the sector is massive. So therefore, the standards aren't changing. But then the next stage is, well, are the standards do they have that precision, to be able then to support a new teacher in their first and formative years, going towards being an expert or certainly a competent teacher? And the standards again, they're the standard throughout the profession, but they were never meant to then give that detail that one would need to say, well, what do we do first? Because again, I think as I've said already that we being a teacher is a complex activity. And I think at certain times in the past, for instance, I did number PGC, and the traditional way as many did, and the first occasion that I had a very, very early in the training was I was sitting at the back of a classroom, and I was watching an expert teacher teach. And I sat there, and I had taught one lesson myself, which had gone horribly badly. And then this was me watching the expert teach. And I sat there and I went, well, that's magic. I have no idea how that happened. It was brilliant. It was beautiful. It was entrancing, all that sort of thing. And, and yet, and, and therefore then the teacher said, Oh, I can tell you what I was doing. But just there were thousands of things. And yet me teaching in my first sort of footsteps. I couldn't take a thousand things could take one or two, have a go at those. So therefore the game, the early career framework is about saying what do we need in the first instance? What do we need in the first couple of years? And therefore, that's why it's different from the standards, but again, very important that they're mapped to the standards so that people don't feel they're serving two different masters.

Debbie Clinton

Yeah. I think in addition to that, the significance of the bibliography again comes in, doesn't it because I started teaching in 1987. And, and apart from the fact there were no league tables now have said, you know, no accountability at all really good days for teachers, bad days for children, in my view, and actually, at that time, what the magic that you talked about, which I totally can relate to, the magic wasn't dissected, and it wasn't rooted in research, and there wasn't a set of calls or bits of evidence that said, if you do that that child will do that. And of course, the fact is there is evidence now that tells us what works, which is, which is really helpful.

Reuben Moore

Exactly. And I think and it got always we've got to be wary about new research and applying that research. But nevertheless, I think there are things that both can marry knew the kind of seeing, really seeing a great teacher do it well, alongside with trying to break that down for a novice, and using some of that evidence that does exist to help the novices make the first steps in the second steps to then be competent or really expert teachers.

Emma Hollis

I think the group, the positive thing that I took from the fact that we have the five areas mapped back was that unlike some things that have been done in the past, we didn't start with a government document and go from there. We started with the research and the evidence, what's that telling us and the research and evidence were telling us that there were five areas we need to focus on. And so we were genuinely following what, what really helped and it was all put through the as you went, you were, you know, all of the evidence that was considered was was really scrutinised and insured for quality.

Reuben Moore

We all bore the brunt of that and rightly so rightly. Because all of us because we're all teachers who want to go, Well, okay, could we make up this? Could we make it this? But actually we said, well, no, if the evidence doesn't exist, then we shouldn't. So that's where that position comes.

Emma Hollis

So what's also there is the recognition that we know that evidence will will progress, things will change cohorts of children will change the way we teach will change. If you look around this exhibition space, the technology that will be coming into schools will change how children learn and how we teach them and the flexibility within these documents are there so that they can be reviewed in the light of new evidence that bibliography. So we started in the right place, we didn't try and shoehorn something in existing document.

Debbie Clinton

I wonder if at this point it might be helpful to the audience to offer a perspective from from a Multi Academy Trust experience of the staff survey, stakeholder surveys, attitudinal analysis, and actually the great interest that we have found Ofsted now taking in that survey in the three inspections we've had as a trust since September, in the new framework. I hope is obvious, but the person is to this debate is actually how effectively do we as a profession monitor, the wellbeing the attitudes, the dispositions, the professional development, quality of our workforce, it is a huge area of interest for all the reasons that we've been talking about this morning. And I wonder whether any of our audience either has a question about that, or can offer a perspective on the significance of those surveys, what they tell us and our reaction to them, or indeed an Ofsted perspective on it, which also could be quite useful. Any comments about that?

Perhaps I could help us them by talking about our particular experience and the relevance to this and then we'll bring it back to to the framework again, and for the first time, and I speak as a former HMI that left Ofsted in 2015. So I'm one framework away from practising. There was a distinct focus in our three inspections so far on our reaction to the data that I began this session with. So in other words, making sure that leaders know that problem nationally, there may not be a problem, of course in the individual school, but nationally, there is a problem. And then how were we reacting to that? And then if and then according to what we wanted with that particular question, what was the evidence in our organisation in our academy, in our trust telling us about that. So it's really, really interesting by way of a slight digression in our trust. We are quite fortunate in that our retention in our teacher workforce, is broadly quite positive. But actually, our reaction to this has been multi layered. But in a nutshell, what we're going to do is establish a proper training and development institute within our organisation. It will have a number of external partners in due course, but what we know is that we've got to take professional development, professional challenge career routes for all of our people and of course, not just teachers, but all of our people so that we can take control of this situation. I really agreed with you Reuben, when you talked about the national standards are what they are. They're useful. They provide a set of ambitions and expectations about the teacher profession, but they're not bespoke. They're not age, sorry, career stage related specifically. And as you rightly said, how can we expect this multi layered professional expertise to be the same in the year one teacher as in the year eight teacher, it's not acceptable, it's not fair. And we have to be sensible about that. And although we all meet those wonderful stars that seem to mostly within within about six months, you know, we're in awe of them. We all know who they are, and they run the country later.

So our response, which I hope is a helpful addition to our debate, is to actually really take the challenge of development seriously. And of course, alongside that, we're also doing things like looking at wellbeing properly and not in a token way which I have seen done in some parts of the country, but really thinking about if we're going to take well being seriously, what does that actually look like? What does that look like to the parent asking to have the afternoon off from their teaching to go to their child's nativity play? What does that look like for the parent who wants to take their child to their first ever day of school and miss their for at least a day of teaching? Well, the answer is got to be, apart from everything else. We're about children and families so how can we possibly not wish to look after our professionals in that way?

Reuben Moore

I think Debbie, it's really interesting what you're saying, because I think certainly the early career framework is one part of the puzzle. The stats that you started with. They're real and in some parts of the country, and and some schools, they're even worse than than others. Therefore we know at Teach First we do a lot of data work and therefore, one of the things that I find interesting was, was around the high flyer survey, which is a survey given to thousands of final year undergraduates thinking about where they're where they're going to go next. And the teaching profession has been on a on a steady decline, unfortunately. Which is something that we need to address. And yet when you ask final year graduates, all of them, no, this was a teacher who did an amazing thing. This is why this is what has brought me to university or it's brought me into teaching so so therefore for us, there was something going on that everybody realises how brilliant and transformational teaching can be. But yet, it's not the first place they want to go. It's not the first place they want to think of and therefore, and then you then ask the next question. Okay, well, why not? And I think there is a bit their own public perception. I think having that kind of the positive stories about teaching, as well as the challenges I think are important. I think there's a second element, which is related to that in terms of what is the workload like in a sustainable way? And it may be so for instance, to your point, isn't it interesting that teaching many years ago used to be an area that you would go when you had a family, for example, whereas now we have the position that actually in some cases, that's the opposite, that as soon as you're considering having a family, then actually you'll you'll come out of teaching precisely for some of those small yet really important issues, and therefore it's how we can build that in say this is a place that that welcomes and celebrates the opportunity to go to the assembly play. And then, but but I think my final thing is around, what can we all do to have our teachers and our leaders focusing on the key things, that book they're going to make the difference for our young people, but also for them. Because I think all of us work hard. All of us want to work hard and we're really happy to work hard on the right things. I think it's the it's the working hard on the things that we don't think are making a difference. And I think for me, it's something around how, can we how can we really have people focused on the key aspects that are gonna make the biggest difference for our children and young people? And hopefully, that some of these stands here can take away some of that kind of knew that administration work if you like, because some of these stands and whether it's apps whether it's collecting dinner money, all those sorts of things that suck in time? Why can we do some of that so that those things can be done more automatically, to give us more time to spend on the real focus of the work.

Emma Hollis

I'd like to take us in a slightly different direction if I may and just I'm sure that many school leaders read the early career framework. And if you've had time, and he came recently, the ITT core content, and I think we have to face the reality that your budgets are incredibly small, and you're being asked to do more to support more, and to offer better work life balance, all of a sudden, we're being asked to do more with less. And so I think for me, if the question were to come, where should I invest to make sure I'm getting this right? If I have to decide where my my professional development money is going, where should I put it? Reuben I think you'll agree but you may you may want to contribute. The answer for me would be to invest in your mentors. So through both the early career framework and the ITT core content work that we did. What we found was the biggest difference to retention to professional development to performance in the classroom to children's outcomes was the quality of the mentoring and support that teachers got in schools. So if you have and you do have limited budget, you talked earlier about sustainability and funding so we have we know this 350 million been been put aside for mentor training in schools we've had that that promise from government. But you're you need a sustainable model. Your mentors if they are treated well, if the role is considered an important one, if they are given the time, the space, the professional learning time to really develop. It's different to teaching being a mentor is a different role and it shouldn't just be bolted on to something you already doing. It needs to be given its own development time. If you have a limited budget, in my opinion, that is where you will make the most difference because that one really trained, well trained mentor will see your two ITTs and your two NQTs through this year and more next year and two more the year after that, and then they will be able to pass that knowledge on to create more fantastic mentoring and your schools and that's where the sustainability comes from for me.

Reuben Moore

I think that's a really great point. And I think what's interesting also is that they almost we can we can use that multiple times not not you, I don't mean use in a negative sense, but utilise in the most positive sense because that mentor if they feel they're being developed themselves, they're going to stay longer, they're going to be more interested. Our natural disposition as teachers is to help we want to help our young people we want to help new new new professionals. And and yet, what also these the early career framework offers is genuine support and development. For those mentors that will help them become better teachers, more effective teachers. And I think in that sense that that mentor role is a really important one. And we need, I think we need to be sharper on what we want from our mentors. I think we've always had great commitment from mentors. But I think in some ways, it was our former Ofsted inspector who said at the outset, when we were inspected under the old ITE framework, she said to us, you need to have your mentors mentoring with the heart on the head. And I think that's important. I think there's definitely that pastoral piece about lifting our new teachers up, but no one going you can do it, you can do it. But also there's the what's the precise next step? Yeah. And I think for that, the mentor if they can be identifying that if they can be developed to identify that it helps them as teachers, it helps subsequent new professionals and it gives a great progression for those mentors for them in and out of school, perhaps not take on the kind of head of department whatever role it gives them another opportunity to remain about.

Debbie Clinton

I was really we talked about this briefly before I didn't when I was really excited. I'll now be worrying HR sitting in the audience. I was really excited by Reubens comment about mentors specifically what both of your comments about mentors specifically because as I mentioned, I'm quite old and I, I look back at the advanced skills teachers scheme, the excellent teacher scheme blardy blar, they all die a death they kind of live on ish somewhere in some academies and some schools, mostly they don'T. Actually, hand on heart when you look at career progression, not just money, but career progression is generally about taking on leadership of people. roles in our profession. Well, that's not what everybody wants. I mean, I love being a boss old boots, but nobody likes doing that. And actually the the point about mentoring as a genuine career progression opportunity, so exciting.

Reuben Moore

When that's added to the real focus on curriculum, so therefore the idea of the marriage of what is our what does it mean to be a great history teacher or a developing history teacher? I'm sorry, I was a history teacher so that that's why history jumps to me. There were and other subjects exist, I'm sure I do believe, but no, but but nevertheless. But I think, again, when you marry that idea of how we develop novice teachers, how do we develop novice subject or phase teachers then becomes a really interesting and really affirming our development opportunity for colleagues who are mid career.

Debbie Clinton

Can I just ask in the audience is there anybody in their current organisation has retained either the AST concept or the Excellent Teacher Concept in their progression of their staff. One. Excellent. Can you give us a perspective on that, please? Thank you. That'd be really you see the microphone.

Audience Member 1

I'm from Windsor Academy Trust, which is a West Midlands based Multi Academy Trust with nine schools, four secondary five primary. So we have over many years continue to employ people who were previously known as a sts and we've developed our own structured career pathway that allows people with that level of expertise to work across the Multi Academy Trust, and they have roles that are known as either lead practitioners or directors of subject and their responsibility is about developing curriculum pedagogy, subject specific knowledge in their areas of expertise. Across the Multi Academy Trust and that they're paid additionally, they are paid additionally, yes and depending upon their level, they're actually either employed for a number of days a week at the trust level and teaching their home schools for so generally that the director is employed for two days a week at Multi Academy Trust level work in the system leadership role, and then three days a week in their home school.

Debbie Clinton

Thank you. That's really helpful. We have a further comment.

Audience Member 2

Actually, I used to teach 20 years I taught but I work for a charity. And what I've done is the AST programme. I've developed that in schools in Pakistan. So we have about 50 ASTs, who the objective of them is to give that support and mentoring to new teachers who are existing teachers. The AST programmes I mean, I haven't been in the teaching profession for the last 10 years. But the AST programme was a fantastic programme. And as head of the education programmes that I do with my NGO, I developed that AST programme because what the ASTs did is that they they trained their fellow colleagues and supported their experience teachers, their leaders or leaders who don't want to go become leaders I, principals and that sort of thing. So yeah, yes, the programme was fantastic. Sometimes you have to hold on to these sort of programmes. Mentoring and careers, new teachers in the profession, the teaching profession, when I went into teaching professional is a noble profession, the inability of it and I just feel that that is what is lost because teachers not given that help and support mentoring particularly, and the selection of the mentors when I was teaching, I started in late 80s, that yourself as well, I had a Deputy Head who was my mentor. But did he have time for me? I don't think so. So the selection of mentors is very important as well.

Debbie Clinton

That's really helpful. Thank you. And you made a really important he made a number of important points. But the most important one for me was, we didn't have to let the AST thing go. We may have chosen to do that. But actually, no one told us to do that. And then one prohibited us from doing that either. So it is also about reminding, reminding us that we shouldn't be turning to this is a Debbie Clinton opinion. We shouldn't be turning to government for answers. We should be finding them ourselves. We're grownups, we're professionals. And I look at other professions and I don't for example, here barristers and solicitors, you know, hanging on to government for advice about legal professional development, they do it themselves. And I think is a really important message there. And that's why brings us nicely round I hope to the early career framework. This is about us taking control. This is about us, using the evidence led intelligence to enable us to really look after our teacher workforce.

Closing comments, we have two minutes.

Reuben Moore

Really briefly, I think, obviously, that there there is a huge opportunity in the early career framework. If all of our teachers have the entitlement to this development. The step forward that our entire profession could take is incredible. However, on the downside, if we don't take the opportunity, then then really we we dilute, we just don't take advantage and they and the ones who will lose will be teachers and leaders. In isolated students and non networked schools, but ultimately the pupils in those schools as well. So I think it's on all of us to do.

Emma Hollis

Absolutely. Invest in your mentors, value your mentors, look after your mentors, they will be they could be with the support of this document, transforming education.

Debbie Clinton

I'd like to formally thank you both. I hope you enjoyed it. I did, but I always do because I'm a bit sad like that. I hope it went. I hope you thought it was useful. I do really, really recommend a read of the ECF. And I repeat it short, it's intelligent. It's concise. Thank you both very much indeed. Thank you.


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