Professional development – When should ECTs start thinking about CPD?

photo of young female teacher sat at a desk with a laptop while wearing a pair of headphones

Genevieve Bent considers the point at which ECTs should start specialising in the professional areas that interest them the most

Genevieve Bent
by Genevieve Bent
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This is an individual decision that depends on how the ECT sees themselves within the profession.

Things which might impact this decision include whether they feel they’ve been supported adequately during their first year, and if they have already developed their own professional interests – be it the teaching of literacy, or supporting students with EAL – for example.

As they progress through the Early Career Framework, ECTs may well encounter opportunities to pursue different CPD avenues, and if they feel ready and confident to act on such opportunities, then they absolutely should.

One particular CPD route that’s readily accessible to teachers at any stage of their career – including a number of ECTs I’ve previously worked with – are National Professional Qualifications. Over time, the level of commitment they involve has become much more manageable, and they’ve become far easier for teachers to compartmentalise within their daily and weekly schedules. Most now entail end-of-course assessments, allowing teachers to manage their time and pace their studies over the span of a year to 18 months.

Beyond NPQs, ECTs can also participate in online webinars, or attend one of the many researchEd and Teachmeet events held across the country. The ECT phase and years immediately following it are actually the perfect time to access such events, ideally as often as possible. Most are organised as one-offs from which you can take away a vast amount of professional learning and knowledge, simply from interacting with fellow educators and getting outside the ‘bubble’ of your own school or provision.

I believe that ECTs can benefit in a number of ways from thinking about the areas they’d like to upskill in early on. Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years? What do you want your career progression to look like?

If you can see that progression relating to the curriculum in some way, seek out education training providers and courses that will deliver that. If your interests lean more towards the pastoral, there’s a similarly extensive set of routes you can follow, but be selective.

If you want to explore what working opportunities are out there when you’re ready for the next move, join the more than 60,000 teachers who have already signed up for job alerts with Teaching Vacancies, which is now the largest source of primary teaching jobs listed directly by schools in England. It’s also the second largest for secondary teaching jobs.

With so much choice out there, you can easily become overwhelmed, which is why it’s important to decide on what your goals are, and break down any CPD activity you end up doing into small, more easily manageable chunks.

Genevieve Bent is assistant principal at Harris Invictus Academy and an ECT mentor

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