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14 December 2021

The Early Career Framework

The Early Career Framework was introduced to support teachers during those first few vital years to continue to develop and thrive post training year. As of September 2021, colleagues entering the profession will no longer be known as Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) but Early Career Teachers (ECTs). 

What is the Early Career Framework?

The Early Career Framework (ECF) sets out what Early Career Teachers are entitled to learn about and learn how to do when they start their careers. It underpins a new entitlement for 2 years of professional development designed to help them develop their practice, knowledge and working habits. 

The Framework applies to all teachers embarking upon their first year of teaching after their Initial Teacher Training in September 2021 – primary, secondary, SEND, state and independent schools are all required to follow the ECF.

The ECF provides a syllabus of sorts that outlines the ongoing professional development of Early Career Teachers, grouping together ‘Learn that…’ and ‘Learn how to…’ statements under the following headings:

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

While the ECF is presented around the Teachers’ Standards for clarity, it is not, and should not be used, as an assessment framework. Early career teachers will not be expected to collect evidence against the ECF, and they will continue to be assessed against the Teachers’ Standards only. The ECF will underpin an entitlement to training and support for early career teachers and should not be seen as an additional assessment tool (Department for Education, 2019).

Why was it introduced?

Following successful completion of an Initial Teacher Training year, newly qualified teachers have always had to ‘complete’ an induction period, demonstrating that they are continuing to meet the teacher standards across their practice. This generally involved termly observations from an Induction Lead and an evaluation of evidence that the teacher in question was meeting the standards effectively. 

This process, however, was not always consistent and the experience of new colleagues in their NQT year varied widely from region to region, local authority to local authority and even school to school. The DfE identified that too often, new teachers have not enjoyed the support they need to thrive, nor have they had adequate time to devote to professional development. It was suggested this contributed to the poor retention rates of teachers within England.   

What does it mean for Early Career Teachers?

Teachers will have a formal, structured induction period of 2 years which can be thought of as almost an extension to training where they continue to develop. In the first year of teaching, teachers are entitled to a reduced timetable of 80% of that of a standard classroom teacher - in the second year, a reduced timetable of 85% of that of a standard classroom teacher. It is very important timetables are checked to make sure the entitlement is given. The induction period will also have more structured, guided meetings with a mentor. More information on what will be involved is available in resources from the accredited providers via the Core Induction Programme site. Depending on the approach of the school, teachers may also receive training from one of these providers.  

There are two formal assessment periods – at the end of Year One and Year Two. Formal assessment meetings should be informed by evidence gathered during progress reviews and assessment periods leading up to them. This will consist of existing and working documents. There is no need for the ECT to create anything new for the formal assessment, they should draw from their work as a teacher and from their induction programme.

What does it mean for Mentors?

As a mentor to an ECT, there will be an expectation to undertake ongoing CPD in relation to the mentor role. Depending upon the approach of the school, external training provided by one of the accredited ECF providers may need to be attended.  Mentors will need to meet weekly with ECTs in their first year, moving to fortnightly in the second - there are clear, structured sessions to follow.

Moving from an NQT mentor to an ECT mentor is a bit of a step up in that under the new framework, more involvement is expected. Pre-reading will need to be completed prior to mentoring sessions and the meetings will work more like a coaching session, with guided questions to ask ECTs. Mentoring is a very important element of the induction process, and the mentor is expected to be given adequate time to carry out the role effectively and to meet the needs of the ECT. This includes attending regular mentoring sessions and mentor training where appropriate.

What does it mean for Induction Leads?

Induction tutors are required to provide regular monitoring and support, and coordination of assessment. The induction tutor is expected to hold QTS and have the necessary skills and knowledge to work successfully in this role and be able to assess the ECT’s progress against the Teachers’ Standards. This is a very important element of the induction process, the induction tutor must be given sufficient time to carry out the role effectively and to meet the needs of the ECT, ensuring additional allocated time has been given to complete the role. The induction tutor will need to be able to make rigorous and fair judgements about the ECT’s progress in relation to the Teachers’ Standards, recognising when early action is needed if an ECT is experiencing difficulties. The induction tutor is a separate role to that of mentor, they will also be required to carry out the formal assessment of the ECTs in the final term of the first and second year of induction (Department for Education, 2018).

How can you prepare?


Prepare for the ECT year by downloading a copy of the ECF and reading through the ‘Learn that…’ and ‘Learn how to…’ statements. References and suggested reading have been provided under each heading to support continuing professional development. Beginning to read through these along with being familiar with the resources in the Core Induction Programme is good preparation for starting in September. It is worth contacting the school where ECT years will be completed to ask which approach they are taking and provider they are following to help with any pre-reading. It is important to take a rest over the summer to be fully prepared for September! Remember to take time for yourself.


Mentors can begin to prepare for the mentoring year by making themselves familiar with the content of the programmes DfE have approved. It is worth checking with the Induction Lead which approach is being taken and which provider’s curriculum is being used. 

Induction Leads

Induction leads need to identify which approach to take to enable the delivery of an ECF-based induction. Schools can choose from:

  • a funded provider-led programme - providers include:

Ambition Institute

Best Practice Network (home of Outstanding Leaders Partnership)

Capita with lead academic partner the University of Birmingham

Education Development Trust

Teach First

UCL Institute of Education

  • deliver their own training using DfE-accredited materials and resources (Department for Education, 2020)
  • design and deliver their own ECF-based induction

The 2019 paper from the Department for Education (DFE) states that:

Teachers are the foundation of the education system – there are no great schools without great teachers. Teachers deserve high quality support throughout their careers, particularly in those first years of teaching when the learning curve is steepest. Just as with other esteemed professions like medicine and law, teachers in the first years of their career require high quality, structured support in order to begin the journey towards becoming an expert. During induction, it is essential that early career teachers are able to develop the knowledge, practices and working habits that set them up for a fulfilling and successful career in teaching. (Department for Education, 2019)

I personally echo the sentiments in this statement. It is absolutely vital those entering the profession of teaching are properly supported and developed in those vital early years. The ECF brings a more formal, structured curriculum which supports both ECTs and their Mentors, along with the Induction Leads, to ensure full and thorough CPD takes place. It also enables more consistency to be apparent across all schools with all ECTs – something that was not always there with the previous NQT system and could vary from school to school. I am incredibly excited to be launching the new ECF programme within my own setting and working with the next, new and first cohort of Early Career Teachers. 



Department for Education. (2018). Department for Educations. Retrieved from Statutory Induction Guidance 2018

Department for Education. (2019, January). Early career framework reforms: overview. Retrieved from Department for Education

Department for Education. (2020). Core induction programme. Retrieved from Early Career Framework