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.
Testing two approaches to supporting early-career teachers: one for mentors only and one for mentors and their NQTs
The Institute of Education
Staff deployment & development
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.
Full project description
In order to provide timely feedback in the development of policy and programmes around the rollout of the Early Career Framework (DfE, 2019a), three pilot programmes were developed to investigate the promise, feasibility, and scalability of differing models for developing Early Career Teachers (ECTs), mentors, and induction leads. Two programmes were developed by Ambition Institute and a third by the Chartered College of Teaching. All aimed to provide mentors with the resources to deliver instructional coaching sessions to ECTs, coaching that uses expert teachers to deliver recurring, classroom-practice focused sessions, using observation and targeted feedback to develop practice.
Programme A (Ambition Institute) provided face-to-face training, a coaching guide, weekly online resources, and regular online coaching and support sessions to in-school mentors. School induction leads also received face-to-face training, designed to enable them to support mentors. Mentors used the programme to deliver instructional coaching to ECTs, either weekly or fortnightly.
Programme B (Ambition Institute) provided the same training as Programme A to mentors and school induction leads. In addition, this programme also delivered weekly online content and regular online support sessions directly to ECTs. The programme was also used to enable in-school mentors to deliver weekly or fortnightly instructional coaching sessions to ECTs.
Programme C (Chartered College of Teaching) provided online support to mentors, school induction leads, and ECTs. All received a selection of online modules providing weekly content to mentors and ECTs that were used to facilitate either weekly or fortnightly instructional coaching sessions, delivered by mentors to ECTs.
The intention was not to undertake a comparative evaluation of these programmes but instead to evaluate the modes of support and delivery within them. Each programme was delivered to teachers teaching a variety of different year groups and subjects spanning primary and secondary education. Schools opted to receive one of these programmes. At the end of the evaluation there was a total of 98 schools across the pilot programmes: 50 primary schools, 45 secondary schools, and three all-through schools. The pilot evaluation was designed to run from June 2019 to July 2020. However, delivery and evaluation were modified due to the COVID-19 outbreak and this report covers the initial set-up period until February 2020. The pilot aimed to examine the evidence of promise, feasibility, and scalability of the programmes using a mixed methods approach using three waves of survey, 20 school case studies, online engagement data, observation of sessions, and evaluation of materials. Figure 1 provides a brief overview of the pilot study findings for all three programmes according to promise, feasibility, and scalability.