Over the next month, universities and initial teacher training providers across England will be studying the detail of the first Government tender for support for the new Early Career Framework in 2019. This will start to bring home the sheer scale of the Government’s plan – and the huge opportunities to apply solutions such as video capture, remote mentoring and a consistent language for lesson observation.
The Early Career Framework (ECF) is designed to help solve the ongoing teacher recruitment and retention crisis in schools in England. It extends the support given to teachers who are starting their career by offering structured training and mentoring for two years.
The first three areas to receive this support will be Bradford and Doncaster, Greater Manchester and the North East, where the framework will start from September 2020.
Investing in early career support for teachers is a great idea – but will require a lot of hard work to make happen. The initial tender document for the first three areas alone requires support for 2,500 Early Career Teachers (ECT) and 2,500 mentors – and this will increase ten-fold when the whole of England takes up the programme (25,600 Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) started in schools in 2017).
Two major problems that the Early Career Framework needs to overcome: The need for high quality mentors in every part of the country, for all subjects and phases (all schools in England will have an ECT at some point but many primary schools in particular will not have one every year); And the mobility of early career teachers who often move schools after their initial training and during their first few years teaching.
Remote coaching provides extensive and flexible support
The first solution to these issues must be to use technology to allow for video-enabled remote mentoring. Trained specialist mentors should be able to keep working and using their skills in years when their school doesn’t have a need for a mentor. They should be able to work with more than one ECT in their own school, their local area and nationally, especially in subjects where there are major skills shortages, such as computer science or physics, or in areas such as alternative provision or special educational needs.
Taking the idea further, remote mentoring allows ECTs access to a huge body of expert help – either to support their current mentor in specialist areas, to provide speedy advice between regular weekly mentor meetings, or to take over if, for example, their mentor takes maternity or paternity leave. Remote mentors can be existing teachers, but they could also be retired teachers passing on their experiences or full-time mentors based at universities or teaching schools.
A common language across the country
Moving towards a national mentoring programme with ECTs moving from region to region requires a consistency of approach and language. Our bespoke upcoming Align methodology is just that. Teachers and mentors learn how to look at their own lessons in a non-judgemental way, meaning a teacher can genuinely learn and improve rather than being assessed against the ‘tick-box’ forms that have so devalued observations.
Both remote coaching and a common language for observation require high-quality technology. Our Lessonvu system provides amazingly clear 360-degree pictures of the whole classroom and allows teachers to zoom in and watch the progress of individual students. In combination, our Align methodology will be available through an e-learning platform at different levels tailored to the needs of teachers, line managers and mentors.
We’re seeing the clear benefits of this approach coming through on a daily basis from our partner schools across England and in India. Recent examples include an NQT who was able to receive coaching that made a real difference to a tricky class between one day and the next, and also a returning teacher who needed help understanding whether her class was truly taking in new material. These and other evidence-based stories can be found on our case studies – read them now.
If your school is gearing up to embrace the changes brought about by the Early Career Framework 2019, take a look at our innovative technology to help your institution achieve its teacher training and development goals. Visit the Lessonvu page to find out more about how lesson observations can be done in a more efficient way. Also, sign up to our communications, so you can be amongst the first ones to hear about our Align Methodology e-learning courses, when they launch in a couple of months.