Extended Induction Periods Must be Used for More Support and Development for NQTs
The move from one to two years must mean new teachers receive more guidance, rather than additional scrutiny and ticking boxes, says Emma Hollis…
- by Emma Hollis
There is a worry in some quarters that trainees see the induction period following the award of qualified teacher status (QTS) as a weight on their shoulders. From my perspective, I know some teachers do not feel supported during this time and have the impression of being constantly scrutinised.
So perhaps it’s no surprise there has been some negative response to the Department for Education’s proposal to extend the induction period from one to two years, with the suggestion it will drive prospective teachers away from the profession.
For NASBTT, as the voice for school-based teacher training and those who run induction programmes, the proposal to extend induction is positive because it allows more opportunity for support and professional development.
An important message is that teachers will still receive QTS at the end of their training.
To support extended induction, an early career framework (ECF) is being developed that offers a longer period of support and guidance with clear entitlement (a key word) to professional development, access to mentoring and coaching and, potentially, reduced timetabling.
Crucially, extended induction will not impact on salaries, and teachers in their second year will have the same opportunity to advance through pay scales that they currently have.
The content of the ECF will build on and complement initial teacher training (ITT), and will be designed to offer coherence on what teachers actually need to excel in the business of helping children to progress.
It therefore gives us the ideal opportunity to rationalise what it is that we really want from ITT and what is more suitable for coverage later in their careers.
The ECF will need to strike that careful balance between ensuring a fair and equitable common entitlement for all teachers, while giving enough scope for personalisation to prevent a generation of ‘cookie cutter’ teachers who are prevented from exploring their own interests and expertise.
What works in one geographical area – and, indeed, in one school – will often be different to what is needed in one down the road.
The issue of NQT mentoring is one I am particularly passionate about. I could foresee a situation whereby schools must have a dedicated mentoring lead in the same way they do for safeguarding and the SENCo.
This individual would have overarching strategic responsibility for mentoring early-career teachers, training all staff on what it means to be a mentor and to whom they ultimately report back.
In terms of immediate priorities, we first need to be clear on the detail of the ECF. The big elephant loitering in the room is the issue of funding. And at present a firm government commitment to the funds that will be allocated to schools to implement the changes resulting from the QTS consultation has not been made.
What is obvious is that schools are not in a position to provide the additional support that is required within existing budgets, so what comes out of the next spending review is key.
The good news is that by clearly setting out the entitlement to support that every NQT should receive, clarity over professional development, guidance, coaching and mentoring should become far more transparent and less dependent on the whims of a particular school leadership team.
But by committing to entitle early-career teachers to more support, we must not create a system fraught with accountability and data gathering that increases workload and stress, exacerbating the very problem it is trying to help solve.
The ECF must be about guidance, nurture, support and wellbeing rather than simply creating a tick-list of training events to be sat through for the sake of a paper trail.
Moving from one to two years is not about more hoops to jump through or additional scrutiny over a longer period of time.
If it is perceived to be such, it will dissuade new entrants to the profession – the last thing anybody wants – so schools must stress the clear benefits of this new approach in their recruitment drive. There is no intention for the longer induction to create a perverse disincentive to potential teachers.
Emma Hollis is executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT). Follow her on Twitter at @EHollisNASBTT.