Mythbusting the early career framework

April 20, 2021
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Ambition Institute

Unpacking the new development programme for early career teachers.

In our first article explaining what the early career framework (ECF) is, we called it “one of the most significant reforms to the teaching profession in a generation”. This is certainly the case. The framework is a robust evidence base for best practice that will shape teacher development for years to come.

It is therefore very important for school leaders and teachers to fully understand the changes and benefits of the framework when it is rolled out nationwide from September 2021, with the help of lead delivery partners like Ambition Institute.

Here are six myths that we can bust about the early career framework:

Myth 1: “ECF needs to be done on top of other induction programmes.”

Myth 2: “It’s another assessment framework.”

Myth 3: “ECF will cost schools extra money.”

Myth 4: “Same mentoring, different packaging.”

Myth 5: “Different providers offer different hours in which to complete the ECF.”

Myth 6: “ECF means more Ofsted inspections.”

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Myth 1: “ECF needs to be done on top of other induction programmes.”

Reality: From September 2021, teachers will be inducted to the profession through programmes built on the ECF, replacing all current inductions. Key changes will include:

  • The induction period is extended to two school years.
  • Early career teachers are entitled to receive a programme of support and training based on the early career framework.

This adds up to all previous induction programmes being replaced with a standardised induction into the profession that is underpinned by the same national evidence base.

Myth 2: “It’s another assessment framework.”

Reality: While the early career framework references the Teachers’ Standards, the DfE is clear when it states: “the ECF is not and should not be used as an assessment tool.”

Early career teachers or their mentors will not be expected to collect evidence against the early career framework and they will continue to be assessed against the Teachers’ Standards only. The framework underpins an entitlement to training and development-focussed support for early career teachers, and may support the monitoring of progress, but is not an assessment framework.

The DfE has issued guidance for schools outlining that: “two formal assessments points should take place during induction: one midway through induction, and one at the end of the induction period. These should be supported by regular reviews to monitor progress, to take place in each term where a formal assessment does not.”

This is helpful for teachers, mentors and school leaders alike because it makes it clear that, while early career teachers must meet Teachers’ Standards, the emphasis of the early career framework is on supporting and developing teachers at this stage of their careers.

Myth 3: “ECF will cost schools extra money.”

Reality: The DfE has said that “all state-funded schools offering statutory induction will receive additional funding to deliver the early career framework reforms.” This will fund:

  • 5% additional time in the early career teacher’s second year to undertake induction activities including training and mentoring.
  • Funding time for mentors to spend with early career teachers in the second year of induction, based upon 20 hours of mentoring across the academic year.

Schools can choose to work with one of six providers accredited by the Department for Education (including Ambition) who will design and deliver a fully-funded training programme to early career teachers and their mentors.

Additional ‘mentor backfill payments’ are available to state schools opting into a provider-led programme, such as those offering the full induction programme. This extra funding will be paid to cover 36 hours per mentor over two years from September 2021. The value of this funding is around £800-990 per mentor, per year, depending upon the region.

This provision aims to protect the time and space that early career teachers need to develop their teaching practice. It also recognises the importance of mentors by preserving the time they need for their crucial role in supporting this development.

"Another crucial part of mentoring under the ECF is leading new teachers through specific learning pathways and giving clear work-on points that help make tangible improvements to their practice."

Myth 4: “Same mentoring, different packaging.”

Reality: Under the new framework, the role of the mentor has been defined as having a key role in supporting the early career teacher and “is separate to the role of the induction tutor.” This “designated mentor” is expected to “provide, or broker, effective support, including phase or subject specific mentoring and coaching."

This puts quality mentoring at the heart of the ECF as a specific and protected part of the training provision. The role of the mentor is critical for many reasons, not least of which is how they adapt their own expertise to fit the early career teacher’s situation. Another crucial part of mentoring under the ECF is leading new teachers through specific learning pathways and giving clear work-on points that help make tangible improvements to their practice.

To do this, mentors need to reflect on their own practice and translate the evidence-based learning points into actionable insights within the early career teacher’s context. This takes time. The framework aims to ensure mentors receive 36 hours of training over two years. This is in recognition of how mentors are vital for developing teacher expertise.

Myth 5: “Different providers offer different hours in which to complete the ECF.”

Reality: All lead providers that run programmes for early career teachers must offer the same entitled support as defined by the framework, such as 39 hours of mentor meeting time.

The early career framework prescribes hours in this way in order to protect them, because they are necessary for early career teachers and mentors to develop their practice and complete the induction properly. The framework sets the expectation that that early career teachers have 10% off timetable in their first year of induction and 5% off timetable in the second year of induction to undertake induction activities including training and mentoring.

While the framework is clear that early career teachers and mentors must be given this time, there is flexibility in how lead providers (like Ambition) can distribute it over the two years. However, if schools create their own programmes for their early career teachers, the Department for Education only requires them to demonstrate that they are covering the framework, without specifying hours in which to do that.

Myth 6: “ECF means more Ofsted inspections.”

Reality: Ofsted has been announced as the body that will inspect lead providers’ delivery of ECF training. This will include holding lead providers to account against consistent quality criteria. Ofsted will visit a sample of delivery partners and will engage others involved in receiving and delivering their programmes including teachers and mentors.

However, while Ofsted inspectors will visit a sample of delivery partners such as MATs and teaching school hubs, schools and delivery partners will not be judged individually as part of these inspections or directly named in reports. Schools which don't go with a provider will still be subject to inspections via an appropriate body.


Our Early Career Teachers programme builds on the thinking behind the Early Career Framework. Find out more about this DfE-funded programme here.

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