The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) has hailed the Early Career Framework but warnened that it could ‘fail to deliver all its promises’ without funding
Emma Hollis, executive director of NASBTT, has commended the Early Career Framework (ECF) as the “most critical initiative” yet for new teachers; however, her words came with a warning that a commitment to funding is needed if it is to deliver.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual conference, Emma referred to the ECF as a potential “game-changer”;
“The ECF offers a longer period of support and guidance with clear entitlement – and entitlement, I think, is a key word – to professional development, access to mentoring and coaching and, potentially, reduced timetabling.
“Schools remain concerned about the costs of such an ambitious programme and yet, if funded and resourced appropriately, this really could be a game-changer. Without the time and resources where necessary, I fear the ECF could fail to deliver all its promises. We will be advocating for accredited providers to be automatically licensed to offer the framework to schools. A complex and expensive bidding process could stagnate the market – and who is better placed to understand the needs of early career teachers than Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers?”
Mentoring was also a focus of the speech as she noted that entitlement to a lengthier induction period means an increased need for highly-qualified mentors in schools.
“The issue of mentoring is one I am particularly passionate about and, in my most positive moments, I can foresee a situation whereby schools must have a dedicated mentoring lead in the same way they do for safeguarding and Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). This individual would have overarching strategic responsibility for mentoring early career teachers, training all staff on what it means to be a mentor – this should be a set of skills common to all teachers and not simply held within one formal teacher-mentor relationship – and to whom all staff ultimately report back.”
She suggested the formation of local hubs to provide access to accredited mentors, suggesting that accredited teacher training providers, who know what early career teachers need and have a wealth of expertise, are ideally placed to offer this service to schools.
“By tapping into the existing network of accredited training providers, we could give more time to the mentors we have already got, and importantly avoid setting up a whole new mentor recruitment and procurement system. The big elephant remaining in the room is funding and, as yet, a firm government commitment to the funds that will be allocated to schools has not been made. What is obvious is schools are not in a position to provide the additional support that is required within existing budgets.”
Teacher training and recruitment
The QTS consultation could be the basis for “a seismic shift in the teacher training landscape” Emma said, revolutionising the early career support offered and, potentially, making the profession attractive once more.
However, she warned that the 2018-19 academic year is “arguably the most critical yet”, in terms of addressing the issues facing schools on teacher recruitment. “The apprenticeship agenda cost many of us more than one sleepless night and has been fraught with hurdles and difficulties. Adding to an overcrowded ITT market does not appear to have given any additionality and yet has created unmanageable workloads for very little return. We have seen a move towards simplifying the messages given to candidates – with less unhelpful distinctions being made between types of provider and a greater focus on what are actually only three routes to becoming a teacher: undergraduate; postgraduate fee-paying and postgraduate-salaried. Underneath these routes are a wide range of providers – something which we believe offers healthy choice and variety – but which can be overwhelming for outsiders and which should not be the focus of applicants’ early experiences.”
On teacher retention, Emma highlighted the DfE’s latest teacher workforce and statistics analysis, which highlighted that there are now 3,000 more teachers leaving the profession each year than are entering – with leavers increasing across all subjects and phases, and it is the crucial age group of under-35s who are most likely to leave.