Category Archives: Management at all levels

ECTs we have a problem (2)

In part 1 we considered the problems that ECTs were having with poor school support and also through the unnecessary choice by the school of inappropriate classes.

We also touched briefly on the Induction programme and the amount of material that is incorporated in this programme.

So here in part 2 let’s take things a step further and somewhat validate our thoughts on an OVERLOADED Induction programme and look to see if this is being borne out in schools?

Quite simply the answer is yes – and how do I know? ….I asked!

So it looks like “here we go again” with the DFEE producing something that is totally overloaded and unworkable and impractical in schools! But, I hear you ask, wasn’t this flagged in the early rollout – once again the DFEE appeared to ask for feedback and then ignore it (it’s not the 1st time this has happened). Apparently this problem of overload WAS highlighted in the early rollout.
“huge overload of unnecessary tasks. Mentor and ECT struggling with workload.”

So in order to gather more information I asked colleagues that I know, of their experiences with this…bear in mind that we are only 7 weeks into the term.

Here are some responses and let’s put it bluntly, they don’t make for good reading!

  • “Finding tasks for mentor and ECT an overload of unnecessary tasks unfortunately”
  • “I’m with xxxx (provider) but have lots of colleagues with other providers. It’s the same for them. All the providers had their content and activities approved by the DFE and the EEF. This is apparently what they wanted.”
  • “I’m exactly the same. Once again increase to my workload even though I’ve mentored nqts for years successfully! The expectations for are unrealistic!”
  • “Ridiculous time restraints, expectation, unrealistic, unreasonable and prescriptive.”

Now do remember that in all of this, not only are ECTs expected to complete all the training and self study but the Mentors and to some extent the Induction tutors also. This is of course IN ADDITION to the normal schoolwork preparation, marking and quite probably additional responsibilities for staff. In my opinion even as a standalone it’s ridiculous and unnecessary, but when you add this to the “normal” teaching workload you can see (but apparently the DFEE cannot) this its a complete overload and unmanageable.

The irony of the whole situation now created is that this Induction programme was designed with the purpose of supporting ECTs through the first 2 years of their teaching and was put in place to stem the exodus of new teachers. What this has done is to create a huge additional load on not only ECTs but also schools in general and Mentors and tutors in particular. This poorly thought out and structured programme could actually ADD to the exodus of new teachers rather than prevent.

Based on the past failures of the DFEE, and there have been many – it is the same approach. They come up with an idea to what they perceive as a problem and formulate a response. As always seems to be the case (again) they listen to advice given and then totally ignore it (yes this happens as I have had colleagues who have been on these advisory committees). What then happens is that a programme is introduced which very quickly reveals its flaws and failings and schools are expected to manage and struggle along as the DFEE make changes over time in response to their initial poorly constructed initiative!

Here’s some more thoughts from schools and unfortunately you can now see that schools are starting to think that perhaps they will avoid this situation in the future by NOT employing ECTs – should we be worried …yes!

  • All this will do is stop schools employing ECTs and put ECTs off teaching.
  • Supposed to help retain its going to do the opposite!
  • My feedback is that is a ridiculously onerous undertaking. So many training courses for already very experienced teachers to have to do. Schools are completely under prepared for it and sadly I don’t think we would think about an ECT again for a while. Increasing teacher workload massively!
  • We won’t be taking any ECTs next year
  • I have learnt how my grandmother can suck eggs and I’ve taken a lot of coals to Newcastle.

At this point I am at a bit of a loss as to what to recommend for both ECT colleagues and also schools. What should have been an opportunity to implement a great support programme for new teachers seems to have quickly become a millstone around both the necks of the ECT and also the schools.

In conclusion
In my day (which was a long time ago!) there was none of this. We were recommended to keep a diary and asked for help from colleagues when we needed it. At the end of the year you simply passed or failed. The introduction of the teaching standards for new teachers to complete was introduced later and outlined the basics of what needed to be mastered over the year. But this now seems to have spiralled out of all proportion and is actively working against what it was designed to achieve. (I won’t mention the commercial side of things as regards these “providers” whose interest is must be to make this as “involving and complex” as possible!)

So where do things go now….to be honest I don’t really know. No doubt the providers are already getting negative feedback or questions as to the viability of what is happening – but their hands are tied as things have been presented and signed off by the DFEE. If things run true to form the DFEE will then attempt to cobble changes together to be assimilated into the programme “in recognition of problems” but it will ultimately be passed down to the schools to sort things out. An increasingly downward spiral as the workload and pressure increases.

Time will tell unfortunately and I hope my gloomy analysis and predictions don’t materialise. If all else fails then (as we did) ask your colleagues for their help, support and advice on all matters relating to your teaching and classroom practice and between yourself and your mentor tick off all the boxes and carry on!


ECTs – we have a problem (1)

It’s a bit of a sobering thought really – we’re not even to 1/2 term and the so called, “well trialled” ECT induction programme is starting to creak and cause problems!

But let’s divert away from that for a second and look at a perennial problem – one that raises its head year after year and one that is certainly happening once again…and to be quite frank SHOULD NOT BE!

It’s the problem of schools / academies not being up to the job of having an ECT on their staff. Whether this is through poor management, laziness or simple incompetence – some schools are not up to the job!

Now if you’re in school management and you’re reading this and shaking your head then I am assuming that your school is handling this well and if thats the case then great news. But already – 7 weeks into the new academic year, there are ECTs who are struggling due to the mismanagement by their schools; and lets not soft soap this…are handing in their resignations!

The new ECT framework and induction programme was designed to support and guide ECTs through their first 2 years in the teaching profession. Brought in because of the 55% failure and quitting rate of new teachers in this time. The guidelines are designed to have training for Mentors, Induction tutors and indeed even higher overview levels.

In the documentation itself it states quite simply that schools should ensure that :

  • Mentors are carefully chosen for their professionalism and ability to guide, support and advise the ECT
  • The class chosen for the ECT must NOT be one with high levels of problems. Discipline is mentioned but of course schools should review the make up of any class and make a conscious decision as to whether, in all honesty, this is a good class for a newly qualified teacher to be given!

Even at this early stage of the new year I am hearing from ECTs who are struggling by the failure of the 2 areas above. WHY?
Its not difficult – a school has decided to appoint an ECT – so choose someone who is capable and competent to mentor them and give them a class which is a fair choice for them as a new teacher. HOW DIFFICULT CAN IT BE??

Without these 2 basics, and they are basics then ECTS as new teachers will struggle right from the start, feel, justifiably unsupported and slowly sink….and don’t get me started on unrealistic expectations from school SLTs!! As a result ECTs will leave – and that’s whats happening…and to be honest I don’t blame them!

So let’s move on to the second problem that is raising its head – the INDUCTION PROGRAMME.
As a brief overview; the DFEE has appointed 6 establishments / companies to set up and run core Induction programmes for ECTs. Now these companies are an option for schools to use or conversely Schools can set up and run their own but it has to meet the requirements of the DFEE programme – so I would doubt that many will!

Just because the content and scope of these programmes has been tested and ok’d by the DFEE doesn’t mean for one moment that they are any good or will be of any use (the DFEE has a track record spanning many many years of introducing what “seems to be a great idea” only for it to be totally useless) and it seems its very quickly becoming clear that these new Induction programmes are proving to be a total overload!

The above is from one of the “Providers” If you look carefully at the top of the pic you will see that this block 5 (ECT training) consists of 20 pages of the above type material and there are 12 blocks on differing topics!

At this point in my article you can kind of get where I am going with this – in fact the article is now becoming larger that I had expected hence the part 1 and next a part 2.

So I will delve further into this topic at another time and look at just how this overload problem is causing problems in itself for everyone concerned – schools and ECTs.

What a ridiculous state of affairs is becoming apparent – am I surprised…no; but I am extremely disappointed.