On 28 January 2019, the DfE published a new strategy to improve recruitment and retention of teachers. Central to the strategy is the ‘Early Career Framework’ (ECF), which sets out a new two-year funded induction package for new teachers to support them in the early stages of their career.

This article outlines everything you need to know about the strategy, including the main challenges the government faces in terms of teacher recruitment and retention, and the steps it is taking to overcome them.


Establishing effective school cultures


The government aims to support school leaders to establish supportive cultures. In doing so, there are four key challenges: workload, managing change, challenging pupil behaviour and specific support for headteachers.


Reducing workload


To reduce unintended workload, the government aims to do two things:

1. Create a simplified and transparent accountability system that supports headteachers

  • Formal intervention, including forced academisation, will only ever result from an ‘inadequate’ judgement.
  • A consultation has been  launched on the ‘requires improvement’ judgement becoming the recognised trigger for intervention – replacing the floor and coasting standards.

 2. Work with Ofsted to drive down workload and tackle the audit culture

  • The new inspection framework will have a clear and active focus on the need to tackle teacher workload – this will be considered as part of the leadership and management judgement.
  • A new Ofsted hotline will be introduced for headteachers to report any breaches regarding Ofsted inspection of workload.


Greater curriculum stability


Various curriculum reforms have been introduced since 2010, and the government recognises the additional burden this has placed on teachers. To combat this, the government has committed to:

  • No additional statutory tests or assessment for primary schools.
  • No further changes to the national curriculum.
  • No reforms to GCSEs or A-levels.


Pupil behaviour


To tackle low-level disruption and challenging pupil behaviour, the government is focussing on three important steps:

  1. The ECF outlines that every new teacher should receive enhanced behaviour and classroom management training in their early career.
  2. £10 million is being invested in creating behaviour hubs to facilitate sharing of best practice.
  3. Behaviour will be given greater focus under the new Ofsted inspection framework and will have its own category.


Additional support for headteachers


The government recognises that headteachers need the right resources to create an effective school culture. In doing so:

  • Uplifts to the main pay range have been accepted for the current academic year, as well as uplifts to leaders’ pay ranges and those of higher-paid teachers.
  • The government aims to ensure the teaching pension scheme remains one of the best, and that it meets the additional employer contributions.
  • An additional £250 million, as well as £100 million of capital funding, will be provided for the high-needs budget over two years.
  • A new nationwide Teaching Vacancies service will be launched in March 2019 for schools to advertise posts free of charge.

The government will also look into partnering with schools, MATs and LAs in challenging areas to develop more attractive local offer packages to increase recruitment and retention locally. In addition, investigative work will take place into whether there is a demand from teachers for new homes on surplus school land – where this is the case, the government will explore whether an extension of permitted development rights is needed to speed up these developments.


Support for early career teachers


The ECF has been introduced to help provide the necessary support for new teachers, which addresses three main challenges: high-quality support, financial incentives and resource planning.


Transforming support


The ECF outlines what all early career teachers should be entitled to learn about and how to deliver this learning based on expert guidance and research. It focusses on five key areas: behaviour management, pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and professional behaviours.

Under the ECF, every new teacher will receive an extended induction period of two years and will be entitled to a trained mentor to provide the foundations of a successful career. National roll-outs will be delivered in September 2021; the government anticipates an additional £130 million will be available each year to support ECF delivery.


Financial incentives


The current maths bursary programme allows training teachers to receive funding in their training year, as well as additional payments in their third and fifth years of teaching. The government aims to reform other bursary programmes to follow this approach, ensuring that phased bursaries are weighted so that they are higher for teachers in more challenging schools.


Access to high-quality resources


A £7.7 million curriculum fund will support a range of high-quality curriculum programmes where teachers can share resources and access good-quality curriculum models to help inform their planning. It is important to note, however, this money is available for funding pilots and will not be offered to all schools yet.

The government will also invest in specialist national professional qualifications (NPQs) to support teachers to develop expertise in particular areas (other than leadership), such as curriculum development.


Attractive career offers


Through the ECF, the government aims to support teachers to pursue the right career opportunities for them. In doing so, the government will tackle three main challenges: career progression opportunities for those wanting to specialise in the classroom, career incentives, and flexible working opportunities.


Specialist NPQs


NPQs will be introduced for teachers who wish to pursue careers other than traditional leadership roles – these will be focussed on the five key areas of the ECF.

The government also wants to ensure the pay system supports more flexible careers pathways – it will be asking the School Teachers’ Review Body for recommendations on how to achieve this, with a view to implementing reforms in 2020.


Career progression opportunities


To improve high-quality teaching in disadvantaged areas, the government will:

  • Invest £20 million in scholarships to drive take-up of the reformed leadership NPQs in the most challenging areas.
  • Use the £42 million teacher development premium to fund take-up of both the leadership and specialist NPQs.


Flexible working


The government will take the following steps to promote flexible working:

  • Creating a high-profile “find your jobshare” website that supports teachers looking for jobshare partners.
  • Creating a competition for EdTech providers to create innovative solutions to promote and facilitate part-time and flexible working patterns, including time-tabling tools.


Becoming great teachers


The government recognises that the process of becoming a teacher is too complicated and burdensome. To tackle this, it aims to address the following key challenges:

  • Not enough people who express interest in becoming teachers progress to making applications
  • The application process is too complicated, especially for people changing their careers
  • The initial teacher training (ITT) market is too complicated


Encouraging more people to try teaching


A new Discover Teaching initiative will be launched, which gives as many people as possible the opportunity to experience a teaching career, including a new virtual reality classroom.

The application process will be reformed to improve the user journey – this includes:

  • The new Find Teacher Training service that allows applicants to search for ITT courses that are applicable for them, and filter courses by proximity or the financial support available.
  • A new, one-stop application system that works alongside the Get Into Teaching website and the new Find service, to simplify the process and make it quicker.

The government is also taking steps to provide personalised support for applications at each stage – this includes recruiting those experienced in the profession to provide bespoke support and investing in a customer relationship management system to provide personalised advice.


Understanding applicant needs


The government will work with Ofsted to ensure that the new inspection framework contains no potential disincentives and will continue to monitor ITT provider acceptance rates.

To encourage those who are changing careers, an investment of £6 million will fund recruitment initiatives, which includes supporting Teach First to develop a bespoke route for career changers and expanding the reach of Now Teach to new areas and supporting a new Transition to Teach initiative.


Simplifying ITT


The ITT market will be reviewed to identify improvements that reduce costs for providers and explore how to encourage high-quality providers. 

The government aims to encourage the spread of Teach First more widely, especially in challenging areas. To do so, it will explore how to support Teach First to gain QTS recommending power, as well as their current work with universities, encouraging them to work with small school-based providers.


What’s next?


A series of roadshows will be held across the country, which schools are encouraged to attend. These roadshows will seek further views on the government’s plans and identify how it can work with the sector to deliver the ambitions of the strategy.