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Understanding the New Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework

On 30 January 2024, the Department for Education (DfE) published a new framework to support trainee teachers and early career teachers. The DfE says it hopes the new ‘Initial teacher training and early career framework’ (ITTECF), which will come into effect from September 2025, will help ensure high-quality teaching and improve pupil outcomes. Here Matt Bromley, education specialist, teacher, leader and public speaker, explains the background and rationale behind this latest government initiative to support trainee and early year teacher development.

The new ITTECF combines the ‘Initial teacher training core content framework’ (CCF) and the ‘Early career framework’ (ECF), with the intention of ensuring that all new teachers receive three or more years of training, underpinned by the best available evidence.

One combined and updated framework

The original frameworks were designed to help trainee teachers and early career teachers succeed at the start of their teaching careers. The DfE says that combining them will now mean that teachers will get a more “joined up development journey beyond initial training into the early years of their career”.

As well as brining the two frameworks together, the new ITTECF has been updated to ensure that it is based on the latest evidence, including new and updated content on how teachers should support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), high-quality oral language, early cognitive development, and children’s mental health.

Later in 2024, the DfE intends to procure updated training programmes for early career teachers (ECTs) based on this new framework.

The updated programmes will – says the DfE – be better designed to:

  • take ECTs’ learning from initial teacher training into account
  • provide more tailoring based on their level of development, subject and context
  • streamline the training and support for mentors, so they can better focus on supporting their ECTs.

Some background

The ‘Initial teacher training core content framework’ (CCF), first published in 2019, defined in detail the minimum entitlement of all trainee teachers.

Claiming to draw on “the best available evidence”, it set out the content that ITT providers and their partnerships were expected to use when designing and delivering their ITT programmes.

The CCF aligned with the ‘Early career framework’ to establish an entitlement to a three-or-more-year structured package of support for all new teachers at the start of their careers.

The ‘Early career framework’ (ECF), meanwhile, was published in 2022, and set out what early career teachers (formerly known as newly qualified teachers or NQTs) were entitled to learn about and learn how to do when they started their careers. 

 When it was first published, the DfE said the ECF underpinned a new entitlement for two years of professional development, designed to help early career teachers develop their practice, knowledge and working habits. Previously, NQTs were only entitled to one year of induction support.

In January 2024, the DfE released a review of the ITTCCF and the ECF. This review provides the rationale for replacing these two frameworks with the new ITTECF.

Rationale behind the ITTECF

1) The review found that there was unnecessary repetition – with many respondents to the review saying the ECF duplicated ITT content

“The ITT and ECF’s similar but separate nature sometimes meant that there was unintentional repetition of ITT elements in ECF-based training.”

In contrast, the ITTECF includes new wording on progression, setting out how knowledge and skills should develop across ITT and through ECF-based induction, to reduce unnecessary repetition.

The DfE says it knows that “a teacher’s understanding and confidence with the elements of teaching develops as they grow in experience, and that they require less expert support over time. But [the DfE] also knows that this is not a linear process and ECTs should purposefully revisit the components of great teaching throughout their training to strengthen and deepen their expertise.”

As such, the DfE says that ECF programmes going forward will be consciously designed to build on prior learning, with delivery tailored to what each ECT needs to develop their expertise.

Alongside the move to a combined framework, the DfE says it will ensure that ECF lead providers pitch their programmes in recognition that most ECTs will begin induction with a greater understanding of the framework, having completed ITT courses that incorporate it.

2) The review found a need to contextualise the ECF programme to different settings and subjects

Although the new ITTECF does not include increased subject-specific content (because it is designed to work for all teachers across all phases and subjects), ITT providers will have the autonomy to incorporate the ITTECF as part of a full curriculum appropriate for the subject and phase that the trainee is training to teach.

The DfE says that it is vital that ECTs are able to “relate their training directly to their own specific contexts and needs. As such, ECF lead providers will develop enhanced subject-specific materials, designed specifically for their programmes [and] mentors will continue to play a vital role in supporting tailoring in their school and their resources will help them to do this”.

3) The new ITTECF will provide more support with regard to teaching pupils with SEND

Indeed, the new combined framework includes significantly more content related to adaptive teaching and supporting pupils with SEND, some of which has been adapted from the new National Professional Qualification (NPQ) for SENCOs, so that it is relevant for trainees and ECTs.

The DfE has also made some edits to existing statements to improve inclusivity for SEND throughout the framework. Recognising the importance of ensuring trainees and ECTs are confident in supporting pupils with SEND to succeed, the DfE says it will also be enhancing the requirements on ECF lead providers when creating SEND exemplification materials.

The structure of the ITTECF

The ITTECF sets out two types of content: ‘Learn that…’ and ‘Learn how to…’ statements.

‘Learn that…’ statements are informed by the best available educational research. This evidence includes practice guides, rigorous individual studies, high-quality reviews and syntheses, including meta-analyses.

‘Learn how to…’ statements are drawn from the wider evidence base, including both academic research and guidance from expert practitioners.

The DfE says that, when designing their training programmes, ITT and ECF providers must carefully consider how they will cover both the ‘Learn that…’ and the ‘Learn how to…’ statements fully and specifically.

The ITTECF is a minimum entitlement to training and not a full curriculum. The DfE says it remains for accredited ITT providers and ECF lead providers to integrate additional analysis and critique of theory, research, and expert practice as they deem appropriate for their curriculum.

The ITTECF standards for which there are ‘Learn that’ and ‘Learn how to’ statements are:

  • Set high expectations
  • Promote good progress
  • Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
  • Plan and teach well-structured lessons
  • Adapt teaching
  • Make accurate and productive use of assessment
  • Manage behaviour effectively
  • Fulfil wider professional responsibilities

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The National College offers a broad range of resources to help school leaders ensure that provision for early career teachers is aligned with the current ECF. Please browse our webinars which focus specifically on key areas, such as statutory induction guidance, the mentor’s role, collaborating with appropriate bodies, implementing content in line with Teachers’ Standards, and instructional coaching.

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.