How we're helping early career teachers to keep getting better

May 27, 2020
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Ambition Institute

If you’re looking for more information about our Early Career Teachers programme, you’ve come to the right place. This blog is a summary of our latest webinar for anyone interested in the programme who couldn’t make it.

We know that schools are working hard to be as business-as-usual as possible and we’ve been so inspired to see that leaders are still making the time to think about the development of their NQTs.

In the webinar, we were joined by Steve Farndon, Ambition Fellow and leader of our pilot Early Career Framework (ECF) work in Blackpool. He discussed the perspective we’ve taken on the ECF and how we’ve translated the advice of the framework into practice.

Before reading any further, please be aware that this early roll-out is only running in Bradford, Doncaster, Greater Manchester and the North East. The programme begins in September 2020 and we are advising schools to apply soon before all the places in their area are taken.  

Randal Cremer_child watering plants

Programme aims

Everyone is aware of the recruitment and retention challenges in schools. We’re seeing a growth in the number of students, more experienced teachers retiring and, most worryingly, we’re really struggling to keep teachers we’ve just trained.

The government are focused on early career development because they recognise teaching is a complex job, it’s difficult to get consistent quality of provision for all NQTs and that a central framework would save time for schools.

The last thing schools need is more paperwork and accountability, so our programme aims to develop NQTs in a holistic way. We’re a mission-focused organisation: by offering more support to teachers and schools, we will have better quality teachers staying in the profession for longer and improve the life chances of young people.

The first thing we did when we designed the programme was look at the challenges facing schools. See if you agree with any of the below:

  • Induction now two years.
  • Very little investment in developing mentors.
  • School (especially CPD) budgets are tight.
  • NQTs have missed a term of placements because of COVID-19.
  • Capacity to filter good research on best practice.
  • Teachers plateau after a few years (if unsupported).

Programme design

Using the design principles that underpin many of our development programmes, we decided on:

  • Regular, bite-sized learning.
  • Examples of classroom practice.
  • Familiar routines.
  • Practice makes permanent.

"From the very start Ambition for us stuck out as a front runner for providing our ECF delivery. Throughout the initial conversations we picked up upon the moral purpose which firmly sits behind everything that they do. The detail in the training plan and the ‘little and often’ approach to development tasks was something that we felt would make the whole programme more manageable for NQTs. "

- Deputy Headteacher, The Duchess’s Community High School.

Programme structure

To structure the programme, we identified three challenges in early career development:

For NQTs:

  • Key insights from training are forgotten.
  • NQTs struggle to see relevance.
  • Insufficient time.

For mentors:

  • Hard to explain something they do automatically: how do you break down teacher learning?
  • How to make sustainable change?
  • Separating assessment from development. 

Programme cost

This programme is funded by the DfE, but there’s still a cost in terms of time.

The way we see it, it’s better to have the upfront and planned time costs than unexpected costs later on. By that we mean the tearful conversations at 3:30pm on a Wednesday after a particularly bad lesson, SLT members dropping into lessons to support on behaviour, or unplanned cover costs and recruitment costs if NQTs drop out after a year or two.

Why Ambition?

You’re probably aware that there are a number of different providers offering an Early Career Teachers programme. You might be trying to decide between them. So here’s what makes our offer different.

We’re already running this programme, taking part in two pilots and applying the learning and insights to the design and delivery of our programme.

We have fifteen years’ experience developing teachers and leaders and have a broad national network of 3,000 schools and 15,000 teachers and leaders in a diverse range of settings. We partner with schools in coastal areas, inner cities, big MATs and small schools, faith-based schools, isolated schools, and teaching schools.

Listen to the webinar

If you'd like to catch up on the webinar, you can find the recording here (enter the password: 9G&1h43%). The webinar starts from 5 minutes 30 seconds.

"We chose to work with the Ambition Institute because their programme very closely aligns to what we believe our NQTs will value most in terms of CPD at the beginning of their careers. The clear focus on teaching and learning pedagogy, supported by regular networking and consolidation sessions, gives us confidence that our staff will get the maximum benefit from the programme and prove sustainable in the longer term."

- SCITT Director/Senior Leader, Buile Hill Visual Arts College:

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered in this blog, here are some FAQs you might like to read. If you’ve heard enough and want to apply right now, you can do so here

If you’re still undecided and want to speak to someone, here are your key contacts:

Alternatively you can call us on 020 3668 6865.

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