Letter from Rt. Hon. Robin Walker, MP: ECF reforms
24 April 2023
Robin Walker MP
Minister of State for School Standards
Great Smith Street
11 March 2022
I write to update you on the government’s reforms to teacher training and
development. As we all know, there are no great schools without great teachers, which is why
the Department for Education (DfE) has continued to focus on the training and
support we provide for the profession.
We are creating a world-class teacher development system, building from Initial
Teacher Training, through to early career support, specialisation and onto school
leadership. At each phase, teachers will have access to high-quality training and
professional development underpinned by the best available evidence, as
assured by the Education Endowment Foundation. This is creating a golden
thread of professional development that teachers can draw on at every stage of
Progress this year
In September we launched both the national roll out of the Early Career
Framework (ECF) and the reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications
(NPQs). I would like to thank you for your efforts in delivering the seismic shift in the
support and development we give to early career teachers through the ECF
programme. This year over 25,000 new teachers (the vast majority of new
teachers) and nearly 23,000 mentors are undertaking a new high-quality and
structured professional development programme for the first time. By enrolling
them on an ECF programme in such high numbers, you and your teams are
providing your early career teachers with the firm foundation they need for a long
career in the profession.
Additionally, the new suite of NPQs offers training programmes for teachers and
leaders at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high quality
teaching practice, such as behaviour management, to those leading multiple
schools across trusts. Fully funded training scholarships are available for
teachers and leaders employed in state funded schools and 16-19 organisations.
The implementation of these reforms at pace and at a national scale has been
made possible in part by our investment in Teaching School Hubs – a national
network of teacher development centres of excellence, providing all schools,
teachers, mentors and leaders access to national frameworks.
Supporting early career teachers, mentors and school leaders to focus on
what matters most
We are committed to building on your hard work. We have listened to your
feedback on the ECF and, although it has been largely positive, we are making
improvements in areas that you have told us are causing some difficulties.
Establishing new ECF-based induction programmes – part of a two-year statutory
entitlement for early career teachers to access structured training and mentoring
– in thousands of schools across England has been a huge undertaking for those
implementing it, particularly mentors.
To help with this, we are:
• reviewing materials to make them as user friendly as possible
• simplifying the digital service, making it easier to navigate and reducing
the amount of information you need to provide
• streamlining the registration process to ensure it is quick and easy to sign
up your early career teachers and mentors
We want early career teachers and mentors to use the funded time set aside for
the induction programmes in the most effective way. To support that, we’ve
created new materials for school leaders, mentors and early career teachers to
answer common questions about induction and ECF-based training. These are
available here: Guidance for schools: how to manage ECF-based training - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Adapting ECF to the needs of individual early career teachers
The provider-led programmes are designed to ensure that early career teachers
receive support based on the best available evidence of what works and ensure
that every teacher gets a consistently high-quality induction. This means that
programmes are carefully structured and sequenced, particularly in the first year,
with more opportunity for selective focus in the second year.
Some of the feedback we’ve received from mentors raises the question of how
they can apply this structure flexibly to meet the particular needs of early career
teachers. It is crucial that we maintain early career teachers’ entitlement to all of the highquality content contained in these carefully sequenced programmes, but we also want mentors to be able to use their professional judgement in supporting early career teachers to understand and apply the content of the programmes to their particular context and role. We will therefore work with the lead providers and
headteachers to produce guidance ahead of September so that mentors are clear how they can do this.
We are also exploring other ways to encourage appropriate flexibility in the
delivery of the programmes, including giving mentors more options for when they
engage (including commencing training in the preceding summer term) and using
more online delivery where appropriate. We are also looking into the possibility of
introducing more flexibility regarding when the induction programmes are
delivered, especially in the autumn term of the first year.
What’s next for schools?
Thanks to the huge number of participating schools, increased familiarity with the
ECF-based induction training programmes, and the greater flexibility in the
second year of the programmes, we are confident that we can continue to build
on the success of the ECF to date. You will be contacted in May with details of
how to enrol new ECTs for next year – more details of next steps to September
are here: Manage training for early career teachers (education.gov.uk)
Also, you can always contact your local Teaching School Hub for more
information: Teaching school hubs - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
You can find out more about our world-class teacher development system here: Delivering world class teacher development policy paper (publishing.service.gov.uk)
This includes NPQs, for which fully funded training scholarships are available for
every teacher and school leader employed in state funded schools and 16-19
institutions in all corners of the country. We are launching two more of these
qualifications from this autumn, in Leading Literacy and in Early Years
Leadership, and encourage all schools to consider enrolling staff where
Additionally, Ofsted has recently published the new framework and handbook for
inspecting ECF and NPQ lead providers: Early career framework and national professional qualification inspection framework and handbook - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
These inspections will only be for lead providers, not schools, and will ensure that the provider-led programmes are delivering the highest quality of training and that teachers and school leaders are
getting the best possible support.
Once again, I would like to thank you and your teams for your continued hard
work and dedication in delivering the best possible professional development for
teachers and leaders across your school, and for the impact this will have on the
children they serve.