17/10/2022 0 Comments
“Most rewarding for me in leading the ECF is the individual stories from our ECTs and Mentors about how the ECF programme has a direct impact on their teaching and mentorship and relates to their classroom practice, ultimately benefiting their pupils and students.”
An essential part of the Department for Education’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Policy, the Early Career Framework (ECF) sets out a two-year professional development programme for Early Career Teachers with structured pedagogical support at the start of their teaching career. A statutory entitlement, the ECF is designed to help ECTs develop their practice, knowledge and working habits.
The ECF was officially launched in September 2021. Designed by national leading organisations, the Colyton and Kingsbridge Teaching School Hubs (TSH) - operating as SWIFT - are proud to be the delivery partner working with national provider, Teach First. SWIFT are also proud to build on the strong pre-existing partnerships with local Multi Academy Trusts and Training School Alliances to provide an area-wide partnership across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.
With this year’s induction successfully complete, the programme is now well underway overseen by SWIFT’s Early Career Framework Lead and Deputy Director (Colyton TSH), Chris Harris and his team, and asked Chris to reflect on the programme.
1. What did you learn from your first year of co-ordinating the ECF for SWIFT?
Technically, this is SWIFT’s second year in delivering the Early Career Framework following our participation in the pilot year 2020 – 2021, which provided us with invaluable experience and insight. I was grateful during the pilot to gain knowledge and understanding of the ECF content and issues affecting schools in my role as one of the Delivery Leads, which has been essential in my current role of co-ordinating the ECF for SWIFT.
I suppose one of the notable points I have learned is that whenever there is a new and, in this case, a significant change in education, it can present a challenge. But I am pleased to say that I have learned and respected the constant resilience and adaptability of the exceptional schools that we work with.
Indeed, as an example, I am delighted to report that 96% of our ECTs rated the quality of their mentoring as either good or excellent. This is testimony to the brilliant work in schools and reassuring to know the ECF will have a tangible impact on teacher quality and student outcomes.
2. Can you give an insight into your role as a delivery partner for the ECF working with Teach First.
Very importantly, as in any partnership, working with Teach First feels like a genuine sense of partnership.
In SWIFT’s role as the delivery partner, we benefit from working with Teach First in delivering a world class curriculum for ECTs and Mentors; but, in the spirit of trust and knowing our schools, we also benefit from the freedom and flexibility given to us in tailoring the content for the schools that we serve.
We have been able to place our ECTs and Mentors into local MAT and Trust based delivery groups and strengthen existing relationships. Another benefit is adding topics to the programme, for example, additional SEND provision and SEND enhancements to the ECF seminars to create an even more well-rounded programme.
3. In considering Year 2 of the ECF, can you tell us about some of the new initiatives and your rationale for introducing.
It was exciting to launch Year 2 of the programme this September and to introduce some new initiatives.
One of the reasons we were drawn to working with national provider, Teach First was their unique subject and phase specific design of the Year 2 programme.
We also have our own ECF “Extra” programme that provides an additional programme for all ECTs, Mentors and SLT leads and looks to enhance and supplement aspects of the ECF. The first of these sessions was delivered this half term by a Sheffield Teaching Alliance on antiracist education and was well received by ECTs, Mentors and ECF Leads.
Another initiative is the launch next half term of an ECF Senior Leaders and Induction Tutors Network; which we are confident will help to reinforce programme support and understanding.
We will also be inviting Year 2 ECTs to join our SWIFT Professional Communities and other broader networks to help them transition into their post-ECF career.
Last year we were still in the ongoing aftermath of the Covid-19 situation and delivered all the induction online. But for this academic year, we were without restriction and were able to deliver our Year 1 induction in a series of face-to-face sessions that were well attended by ECTs and Mentors in a positive working environment and was reflected in the excellent feedback.
4. How do you manage the challenge of maintaining quality at scale with a highly effective programme?
Yes, we are pleased to report that the current Year 1 cohort has more ECTs than this time last year and although it is true to say this presents a logistical challenge, we have structures in place across the Trusts and Schools.
First off, we are very blessed to work with a brilliant team of Delivery Leads and Senior Delivery Leads, Martin Lewis, John Stanier and Sara Thornhill, who are already highly experienced teachers and Senior Leaders and who effectively blend the Teach First material with their own local insights, knowledge and additional input. Above all, however, the Delivery Leads care about the programme. This means the seminars are delivered to a high standard and is corroborated by feedback from ECTs and Mentors.
5. For you personally, what is most rewarding about leading the ECF for SWIFT?
Without hesitation, most rewarding for me in leading the ECF is the individual stories from our ECTs and Mentors about how the ECF programme has a direct impact on their teaching and mentorship and relates to their classroom practice, ultimately benefiting their pupils and students as you can see in the quotations below. And after all, this is why we’re all in education, isn’t it?
“My thinking had already been challenged during the online Brightspace modules, but the seminar reinforced a lot of the ideas I'd read about. Before the conference I hadn't thought role play during Mentor interactions was vital, but now I see the benefit of this activity.” (a SWIFT ECT)
“As an experienced Mentor and member of a Senior Leadership Team, I found the day a brilliant refresher - I particularly liked the explicit links to research and that many of the skills were transferable to other mentoring settings in the College. The day flew by. The presenters were clear and engaging and resources were excellent - it was also a bit of a masterclass in how quality CPD should be run with every attention to detail.” (a SWIFT Mentor)
Finally, I would like to thank all our Delivery Leads, the SWIFT Central Team and most importantly, the schools we work with: the individual SLT leads, Mentors and ECTs who make it happen.
We thank Chris for his insights into the ECF and for his ongoing commitment to the programme.
Interview by Jude Owens, PA to the SWIFT Executive Team