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Early Career Teachers programme: your questions answered

Originally published on

The Early Career Teachers (ECT) programme equips your new teachers with the knowledge they need to be successful and make real impact over the course of their careers.

However, that doesn’t tell you what the programme will look like for you. We’re often asked questions like: What is the ECT programme all about? What are the time commitments and are they flexible? How is the programme facilitated?

Drawing on the expertise of our programmes team, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions from our ECT programme participants, with the hope of helping you to see how it could work for you and your school.

What is the Early Career Teachers programme?

Ambition’s ECT programme is designed to align with the Department for Education’s (DfE) Early Career Framework— the two-year induction and training framework for newly qualified teachers entering the profession. Funded by the DfE, it provides new teachers, mentors and school induction leads with high quality curriculum materials, development sessions with expert teacher educators, training and support.

The guidance that teachers receive early in their careers can have a real impact on their trajectory and impact in the profession. Improving the quality of this guidance has the potential to transform our education system. With this in mind, our programme has been designed by teachers for teachers, and we have worked to make the material accessible and relevant to classroom practice.

For large-scale reforms like the Early Career framework to be effective, it's essential to listen to feedback and learn from it. We’re working to develop our programme in light of participants’ concerns, while making sure we stay faithful to the framework.

How flexible is the programme?

We understand that teachers have heavy workloads, and that unexpected things can arise which cause disruption to the programme. The weekly coaching element is important, but if you happen to miss a session, you can always catch up the following week.

If your mentee is absent for multiple weeks, or they can’t complete a module in time, it’s possible to revisit modules in year two. Any absence or issue that lasts longer than four weeks should be raised with your course co-ordinator, who can pause the programme until your mentee is able to continue.

The Early Career Teachers programme can be done part-time. You will have to talk to your appropriate body about this, and make sure to let us know so we can make any necessary adjustments. An appropriate body is an independent organisation that has been connected to your school. You can find out who they are by talking to your induction co-ordinator or headteacher.

How much time does it take?

The answer to this question is different for mentors and early career teachers.

New teachers: In year one, teachers are given a 10% reduction in their timetable to enable them to spend time on their training. For full-time teachers, this includes weekly self-study modules and coaching sessions with their mentor. There are three hour-long clinics (one per term), and two full-day conferences. In year two, teachers are given a 5% reduction in their timetable to enable them to spend time on their training. Coaching becomes fortnightly and self-study time is focused on revision. They have another three clinics (one per term) and one full-day conference.

Mentors: In year one, mentors give weekly instructional coaching to mentees. The typical coaching cycle involves a 15-minute observation and 45 minutes of feedback. There are also two day-long conferences, two hour-long clinics, and up to two additional ‘coaching for mentors’ sessions across the year. In year two, the only change is that your instructional coaching sessions are fortnightly. In both years, your school receives funding from the DfE so that you can engage with the programme within your contracted hours.

How is the programme facilitated?

We use the learning platform Steplab to facilitate our programme. Steplab was created by teachers, with teachers in mind, and is constantly evolving through user feedback. It’s built on the principles of instructional coaching, is straightforward to use, and is tailored to you based on your role. Mentees, also called learners, use the Learn tab to navigate through the self-taught elements of the course and review their feedback in the feedback received section.

Mentors use the Coach tab, which allows them to log their coaching activities, called coaching cycles, as observations and feedback sessions. There is also a drop-in section where you can record any additional meetings or observations. If you’re curious about the modules your mentee is studying, the Study for Coaching section helps you monitor their progress and explore the course materials first-hand.

Induction co-ordinators work from the Lead tab, which gives an overview of all mentors and learners at their school. From here they can easily send praise to individuals for good practice, or reminders about missed or late tasks as nudges. There is also an analytics section, providing useful data and reports on the whole school’s engagement with the programme.

What is a Delivery Partner?

Ambition take pride in the design of the programme and the quality of its delivery. The Julian Teaching School Hub is Ambition's delivery partner for Broadland, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk, and Norwich

The Julian Teaching School Hub should be your first point of contact for questions and queries about the programme and StepLab. We arrange the programme events for all of our participants, including learners, mentors and co-ordinators.