The government’s plans to increase starting salaries for teachers were announced, with great fanfare, in September last year. This week, Gavin Williamson, education secretary for England has confirmed the proposal to raise salaries to at least £26,000 in 2020, increasing to £30,000 within four years.
According to Williamson, this move is just one part of the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) ongoing programme to improve the recruitment and retention of teachers. He points out that, when leaving higher education, graduates make their career choices in a highly competitive market. In effect, schools are competing with industry and other esteemed professions like medicine and law for the best graduates.
The whole package
New employees of any profession are always well advised to consider the whole package when making career choices, and the DfE seems to be thinking along these lines too. The Early Career Framework (ECF), which was developed in consultation with an Expert Advisory Group and in collaboration with a wide range of teachers, school leaders, academics and experts, aims to transform the support and development offer for teachers at the start of their career. If you’re teaching at a school in the north east, Bradford, Doncaster and Greater Manchester, you should start to see these changes as a result of the early roll-out in September this year.
Capacity and resources
Emphatically not an assessment tool (marked in bold text in the framework document!), the ECF will focus on providing off-timetable capacity and high quality freely available resources and training programmes. A cornerstone of the framework is mentorship, with some of the £42 million Teacher Development Premium earmarked for providing mentors with the time and training they need to play a meaningful and supportive role to early career teachers.
Hit the ground running
It will be interesting to hear how ECF’s early roll-out progresses, and the plans for national implementation, too. In the meantime, it’s fair to say that support for NQTs can be patchy – professional development and mentoring is not always a school’s first priority, but as an NQT you should not feel entirely powerless to improve the support you get to hit the ground running and lay firm foundations for progression. Make sure you:
- Make use of resources tailored to your needs. The Chartered College of Teaching has a number of different strands to their early career support. TES is also a great source of advice and support for new teachers.
- Use your off-timetable time wisely. As an NQT, 10% of your time should be off-timetable.. Yes, you will have a lot of planning and assessment to do, but it’s important to make sure you spend some time thinking about what it is that you’re doing and why. For some teachers, this can be fundamentally important – as described in ‘How I came back from the brink of quitting teaching’ last year.
- Think about – and then speak to your SLT – about your longer term goals. Whether you’re particularly interested in SEND, curriculum design or pastoral support, it’s worth factoring those ambitions into your early career choices.
- Mentoring will be an important factor in your success at this stage. Experts such as Sam Twiselton, Director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University, emphasise the value of staying in touch with your university and ITT contacts, and developing relationships with school-assigned mentors.
When you’re starting your teaching career, remember that Hourglass Education is here to help. Our services are always free, whether you’re looking for career advice, or if you secure a position through us.
More importantly, our consultants get to know the schools, SLTs and departments they work with really well. They know which schools invest the most in their NQTs, and which ones are not so great – give them a call to find your perfect NQT role.