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A Guide to the Early Career Framework

In response to queries from our members, we asked Sue Asquith, early childhood consultant, to provide an overview of the ‘Early career framework’, including how it benefits new teachers, how it is being implemented and sources of further information.

Starting a new chapter in your professional life is undoubtedly an exciting time, but it can also bring new challenges and working conditions. The learning curve is generally the steepest during the first few years in a new career. I often liken this to passing your driving test: you have learnt about the highway code and how to pass your practical test, then you start to apply your skills and knowledge under various traffic and weather conditions. Your learning never stops as you explore new routes, follow road signs or listen to a sat nav, drive different cars and perhaps even drive in other countries where rules may be different, and there are new road signs to learn. The same thing applies when we start teaching.

What is the Early career framework?

Back in January 2019 the DfE published the ’Early career framework’ (ECF), aiming to transform the support and development offer for teachers at the start of their careers.

Teachers starting induction on or after 1 September 2021 are known as ‘early career teachers’ (ECTs). Prior to 1 September 2021, newly qualified teachers (NQTs) had a one-year induction period. From 1 September 2023, all ECTs will need to complete a two-year induction.

The ECF was developed in consultation with members of an expert advisory group and is endorsed by the Education Endowment Foundation. It is part of the government’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy. Building upon initial teacher training (ITT), the ECF sets out what early career teachers are entitled to learn when they start their careers.

Teacher professional development (CPD) is an ongoing mission to fill our professional toolboxes with knowledge and techniques to apply in different circumstances. It is important to thrive and not just survive in a new job in order for us to enjoy a rewarding career in teaching.

The ECF provides support for newly qualified teachers to thrive in their new venture with funded (paid) time to continue their professional development. The DfE is aiming to improve the training and development opportunities available to teachers:

“Our vision is for the ECF to build on high-quality Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and become the cornerstone of a successful career in teaching.” DfE (2019) ‘Early career framework’

The ECF recognises that all ECTs need to continue growing their professional knowledge and pedagogy in their journey to become outstanding teachers. The two-year induction should not have any adverse effects on ECTs’ pay or career progression opportunities; they are still able to progress on the pay scale both during and after induction.

What does it cover?

The ECF supports early career teacher development in 5 core areas:

  • behaviour management
  • pedagogy
  • curriculum
  • assessment
  • professional behaviours

To align these core areas with the Teachers’ standards, the ECF is presented in 8 sections:

  • High Expectations (Standard 1 – ‘Set high expectations’ links with the ECF core area of behaviour)
  • How Pupils Learn (Standard 2 – ‘Promote good progress’ links with the ECF core area of pedagogy)
  • Subject and Curriculum (Standard 3 – ‘Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge’ links with the ECF core area of curriculum)
  • Classroom Practice (Standard 4 – ‘Plan and teach well-structured lessons’ links with the ECF core area of pedagogy)
  • Adaptive Teaching (Standard 5 – ‘Adapt teaching’ links with the ECF core area of pedagogy)
  • Assessment (Standard 6 – ‘Make accurate and productive use of assessment’ links with the ECF core area of assessment)
  • Managing Behaviour (Standard 7- ‘Manage behaviour effectively’ links with the ECF core area of behaviour)
  • Professional Behaviours (Standard 8 – ‘Fulfil wider professional responsibilities’, links with the ECF core area professional behaviours)

The ECF is not intended to be an additional assessment framework. You will not be expected to collect specific evidence against the ECF, but will continue to be assessed against the Teachers’ standards.

As you work your way through the ECF, you will note that the content is broken down into ‘learn that’ and ‘learn how to’ statements.

‘Learn that’ statements have been drawn from current high-quality evidence from the UK and overseas. Examples of “learn that” statements include:

  • The ability to self-regulate one’s emotions affects pupils’ ability to learn, success in school and future lives
  • Teachers can influence pupils’ resilience and beliefs about their ability to succeed, by ensuring all pupils have the opportunity to experience meaningful success
  • Building effective relationships is easier when pupils believe that their feelings will be considered and understood

‘Learn how to’ statements draw on the best available educational research and guidance from the Expert Advisory Group and other sector representatives. Examples of ‘learn how to’ statements include:

  • Giving manageable, specific and sequential instructions
  • Checking pupils’ understanding of instructions before a task begins
  • Using consistent language and non-verbal signals for common classroom directions

How does the ECF serve new teachers?

Qualified teacher status (QTS) is a legal requirement for teachers in maintained schools in England, and is considered desirable for teachers within the other school sectors. When you achieve QTS, you are now classed as an early career teacher. The ECF is a two-year support package for new teachers; you will be required to continue professional development within the first two years of your teaching career with the support of a mentor within the school that employs you.

Schools can choose how they want to deliver ECF-based induction. They can use a provider-led approach (a DfE-funded training provider) which usually involves a delivery partner providing training directly to ECTs and their mentors.

Alternatively, schools can use DfE-accredited materials to deliver their own induction programme (school-led approach), or they can design and deliver their own induction programme based on the ECF (the design-and-deliver approach).

ECTs are entitled to mentor support throughout their two-year induction to ensure that they receive high-quality training. Mentors will meet regularly with you to provide support and feedback, and should take prompt, appropriate action if you are experiencing any difficulties.

The DfE has issued Guidance for early career teachers (ECTs): ECF-based training. This guidance covers lots of questions you may have. For example, it clarifies that you cannot fail the ECF and that you should not need to create any extra evidence (other than the usual lesson plans, etc that your mentor might want you to provide, to evidence how you are meeting the Teachers’ standards).

There are lots of resources listed in the ECF, which also signposts to the Education Endowment Foundation ’Teaching and learning toolkit’.

ECTs and senior leaders are asking how they might manage training for ECTs. The DfE has some specific information about implementing the framework. They have committed to:

  • funding and guaranteeing 5% off-timetable in the second year of teaching for all ECTs
  • a continued 10% timetable reduction for ECTs in their first year of induction
  • creating high-quality, freely available ECF curricula and training materials
  • establishing full, high-quality ECF training programmes
  • funding time for mentors to support ECTs
  • fully funded mentor training

The evaluation report of the national rollout is an interesting read. The DfE has already taken on board the interim research findings to make further improvements to guidance and support. However, within the first-year report “almost all ECTs (96%) intended to stay in teaching for the next academic year to complete their induction programme, including 86% who thought it very likely. Four in five (83%) ECTs reported they intend to stay at their school next year to complete their induction, including 75% who considered it very likely”.

Hopefully, this commitment to an ECT programme will continue to provide much needed support for ECTs to grow their careers, become the best teachers, and deliver a high-quality education to all children.

For further information on the ECF, including statutory induction arrangements which come into force from 1 September 2023, please browse resources on our platform.

If you’re concerned about keeping up to date with the latest education policy, practice and research, consider a membership with The National College. Not only does it provide access to thousands of professional development resources for all staff, but also enables leaders to create training programmes precisely tailored to individual and collective needs, to help ensure compliance and drive up standards.

Bibliography and further reading

DfE (2019) ‘Early career framework’ -

DfE (2023) ‘Appropriate Bodies Guidance: Induction and the Early Career Framework’ (Revised April 2023, comes into force on 1 September 2023) -

DfE (2023) ‘How to set up training for early career teachers’ -

Education Endowment Foundation ‘Teaching and Learning Toolkit’ -