After the upheaval of homeschooling and the full re-opening of schools last month, parents everywhere may well have raised a glass (or chocolate egg) in honour of teachers during the recent Easter break.
According to the survey website Parent Ping, almost two thirds of parents said they value the work of teachers more now than before home schooling began. There is a renewed appreciation of, and gratitude for, the role of teachers and schools.
We should use this moment to celebrate the important role that teachers play in society.
Expert teaching shapes life chances; the statistics on learning loss back this up. For example, without regular face-to-face access to a teacher, pupils lost an average of three months’ learning in mathematics. Teachers make a difference.
One crucial way to celebrate teachers and the role they play is to invest in high quality professional development. That’s why I’m optimistic about September’s changes to professional development for teachers and school leaders.
The first of these changes is the national roll-out of the early career framework. It entitles teachers in the first two years of their career to thorough support and mentoring during their induction. It is one of the most significant reforms to the teaching profession in a generation, aimed at providing extended, evidence-based development that will produce better-trained teachers who are more likely to stay in the profession.
Support for newly qualified teachers is being extended from one year to two years. Protected time in their second year will be supported by additional funding – providing them with an extra 5% non-teaching time in their second year.
The second change is the overhaul of national professional qualifications. Three new specialist qualifications will allow middle leaders and senior teachers opportunities to develop further specialist expertise. The remaining leadership qualifications for senior leaders, headteachers and executive leaders are also being reformed to give a more comprehensive induction to the core knowledge and practices required by those who lead in our schools.
Together, these shifts mark a step change to our professional qualifications, which will be more coherent than previous versions and build more consistently on the learning that has come before. From initial teacher training and the first, tentative terms in the classroom, to the training required to become a headteacher or an executive head of a large group of schools – there’s now a ‘golden thread’ of learning.
And there’s a new and exciting way of providing this professional development. The DfE’s new network of teaching school hubs will play a vital role as sources of high-quality professional development in their region. So, why now?
"According to the survey website Parent Ping, almost two thirds of parents said they value the work of teachers more now than before home schooling began. There is a renewed appreciation of, and gratitude for, the role of teachers and schools."
As the recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins points out, the ongoing professional development of teachers is "undoubtedly the best catch up offer" we have to respond to Covid. And as Nick Brook, NAHT’s deputy general secretary says here: “Now is precisely the time to invest in the ongoing development of professionals throughout their careers so that teachers can thrive and pupils can succeed.”
Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Teachers who we've been working with as part of the early adoption of the early career framework are optimistic about its impact and have started making plans for September. A survey we commissioned from TeacherTapp showed us that 43% of headteachers in the North West, one of the early roll-out areas, are ahead of the game in sourcing CPD for their new NQTs.
Elisabeth Bowling, a mentor to early career teachers on the early roll-out, said: “It has the power to transform the success – and retention – rates of new teachers across the country. It’s actually teaching new teachers the foundations of excellence, and this will only allow far more people to master the complex art of teaching far more quickly.”
Taking the long view isn’t always politically straightforward. Too often, we judge policies on their ability to generate swift results or a media headline. This isn’t about quick fixes or big bangs – it’s about sustained, and sustainable, professional development that builds long-term success.
By investing in teachers and making their professional development a priority for Covid recovery, we can strengthen the support offered to our pupils at this crucial point. To find out how, visit https://www.early-career-framework.education.gov.uk/