In order to inform the delivery of the Early Career Framework, EEF funded the delivery and evaluation of three pilot programmes, each using a different model for supporting mentoring and the development of Early Career Teachers (ECTs).
Programme A, delivered by Ambition Institute, provided face to face training to school mentors and induction leads, alongside a coaching guide, weekly online resources, and regular online coaching and support sessions. Programme B, also delivered by Ambition Institute, provided this training to mentors and school induction leads, but supplemented it with weekly online content and regular online support sessions delivered to ECTs. Programme C, delivered by the Chartered College of Teaching, provided a fully online model of training, where online support in the form of content, forums and webinars was provided to mentors, induction leads and ECTs. Across all three programmes, schools were expected to use the training to provide instructional coaching to develop ECTs
Each programme was delivered to teachers teaching a variety of different year groups, and subjects, spanning primary and secondary
As part of the Department for Education’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention strategy, the Early Career Framework (ECF) will be rolled out nationally from September 2021. The framework will provide additional support to Early Career Teachers (ECTs) during their first two years of teaching, which includes training, materials and a dedicated mentor who will support ECTs to develop. EEF, therefore, funded the evaluation of three ECF pilot programmes, each delivering only one year of support. The evaluation investigated the promise, feasibility and scalability of the programmes, in order to inform the future delivery of the framework.
All three programmes use instructional coaching, a form of professional development which is supported by an emerging body of evidence, derived mainly from the US. Instructional coaching uses expert teachers to deliver one-to-one, recurring, sustained, classroom-practice focused sessions, which use observation and feedback cycles and encourage teachers to engage in the deliberate practice of specific skills. However, there is a lack of evidence on the use of instructional coaching in an English schools context.
The pilot evaluation was designed to run from June 2019-July 2020. However, both delivery and evaluation were modified due to the COVID-19 outbreak and this report covers the initial set-up period until February 2020. This means that we only saw the very early stages of these programmes, which limits the evaluation and its findings.
With these limitations in mind, the pilot evaluation suggests that all three programmes show some evidence of promise. In particular, the online materials provided by Ambition and the Chartered College of Teaching, and subsequent coaching sessions delivered in schools, were perceived to be high quality and impactful by participants. The face-to-face training for mentors provided by Programmes A and B was highly regarded, as were the online preparatory modules offered in Programme C. Participants did report that resources and content could have better targeted some ECTs’ needs. When comparing Programmes A and B, B may demonstrate more promise as it affords more autonomy to ECTs.
A key challenge to the feasibility of the approaches was insufficient time. Both ECTs and mentors perceived this to be a challenge, but it was most acutely felt by mentors. Across all programmes, it appears that the majority of mentors were not able to accommodate the programmes with their existing workloads. This may become easier as schools are provided with funding to cover mentors time when the ECF is rolled out. Careful thought is also required to consider how the ECF is integrated with or replaces existing induction procedures in schools, so that workload does not increase and ECTs are provided with the information and training required to develop.
Given the large amount of online delivery, these programmes are scalable. Some of the online methods used were poorly perceived (such as Ambition’s online ECT Sense Making Clinics, and the Chartered College of Teaching’s online discussion forum) so may require adaptation.
The EEF will continue to support the implementation and evaluation of the Early Career Framework. We are interested in future evaluations of instructional coaching approaches