Category Archives: Personal Teaching

Early Careers Framework

A brief summary…

What is the Early Career Framework?

The early career framework (ECF) was designed to make sure Early Career Teachers focus on learning the things that make the most difference in the classroom and their professional practice.

ECF based training is expected to be embedded as a central aspect of Induction and NOT an add on.

There are 3 ways a school can choose to provide the training

  • Funded provider – schools choose to work with providers accredited by the DFE (face to face and online) funded by the DFE
  • Schools deliver their own training using DFE materials
  • Schools design and deliver their own 2 year Induction programme based on the ECF

The core induction programmes include high-quality development materials, underpinned by the ECF, which will support early career teachers to develop the essential knowledge and skills to set them up for a successful and fulfilling career in teaching.

Schools have an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of the ECF by using the core induction programmes published below or to follow the options listed above and make the decision as to whichever way best suits them and their early career teachers.

Take a look at the programmes outlined below and you will be able to see the sort of training that you should be expecting during your Induction year.

ECF core induction programme suppliers
The Department for Education has selected six expert teacher training providers who have each developed their own core induction programme based on the ECF:

  • Ambition Institute
  • Education Development Trust
  • Teach First
  • UCL Early Career Teacher Consortium
  • Best practice Network
  • Capita with the University of Birmingham

Each set of materials cover the five core areas of the ECF:

  • behaviour management
  • pedagogy
  • curriculum
  • assessment
  • professional behaviours

Although structured differently, each programme contains approximately the same amount of self-study material in terms of hours covered.

Schools can use or draw upon any of six core induction programmes published here in whichever way is most beneficial to them and their early career teachers.

You can read more about these suppliers on their own websites or in the course descriptions below.


Ambition Institute
This programme takes a recurring weekly approach to study, so teachers and the mentors supporting them can get into powerful routines for improvement. The programme is composed of three strands, each of which has a core focus: mainly Behaviour, Instruction, or Subject. Each week includes concise, accessible summaries of the evidence, with optional further reading, so teachers can gain understanding quickly. The materials also include helpful examples of good classroom practice.
View Ambition Institute programme

Education Development Trust
Created with schools, for schools, this programme is based on a deep understanding of the needs of ECTs and the busy colleagues who guide them. The focus throughout is on developing the ECT–Mentor relationship, and providing a powerful professional development opportunity for both parties. The 12 ‘blocks’ of learning take ECTs from foundational knowledge through to mastery, increasing in challenge and depth as the ECTs grow in experience, confidence and understanding. Building on the principles of instructional coaching, these materials are accessible, engaging and practical.
View Education Development Trust programme

Teach First
Each module in this programme has been broken down into weekly sessions to provide you with informed and bitesize information on best practice. Throughout the online study materials, you will be prompted to complete activities and reflect on your practice, considering what you are doing well and how you could improve.
View Teach First programme

UCL Early Career Teacher Consortium
This programme draws upon the theory and practice in the ECF to combine practical activity and inquiry. The programme targets both ‘practical fluency’ – the capacity to deploy a range of teacher practices confidently and skilfully – and the wider knowledge, experience and beliefs required to make use of these practices in real schools, with real pupils and with their outcomes in mind.
View UCL Early Career Teacher Consortium programme

Best Practice Network

Capita with the University of Birmingham

What happens now?

From September 2021, it will become a statutory requirement for all schools to offer all Early Career Teachers a 2-year induction based on the ECF.  Schools will be able to choose from three approaches to deliver an ECF-based induction to their early career teachers:

Full induction programme
A funded provider-led programme offering high-quality training for early career teachers and their mentors alongside the professional development materials.

Core induction programme
Schools can draw on the content of the high-quality core induction programmes to deliver their own early career teacher and mentor training

School-based programme
Schools design and deliver their own ECF-based induction programme.

This gives you a broad based overview of the role and function of the new Early Career Framework. But do check which system your school is using for your Induction Training.

Sorting your class into ability groups.

If you mention ability groups to some schools and teachers they will throw their hands up in horror and tell you it is the worst thing ever!

Yet in many schools you will find ability groups that are spread across year groups and occasionally across key stages – so why this spread of opinion and just what is the approach to take?

Well let’s look at the basic premise:- ” Children need to have work set at an appropriate level which challenges, consolidates and reinforces their knowledge and skills.”

That’s it really – that’s the baseline from which you have to work with your class.

Now that’s all well and good but aren’t teachers then faced with a whole class of differing individual levels that need to be addressed – yes technically that’s the case. I once had a teacher come to see me in a panic because she was differentiating work in her class and was trying to accommodate 10 differentiated levels…the workload she had set herself was enormous and of course not sustainable.

Differentiation is, of course, a completely different topic and my article on this can be found through the search bar on this site. However it is enough to say that differentiation is NOT simply different levels of work!

So do I personally recommend ability groups in class – the broad based answer is YES I do and the qualification is… but only where appropriate -in other words only for some stuff!

In which areas can I use ability groups?
Let me give you a list:-
1. Guided Reading / comprehension
2. Spelling groups / dictionary work
3. English Grammar
4. Maths number (occasionally- you be the judge)

So how do I decide who goes where?
In one word – TEST
It’s as simple as that – you have to know the ability of the children to be able to group them together. Now this doesn’t mean that you start to carry out exhaustive diagnostic testing – no; a simple “start of the Autumn term” test will give you the basics from which to begin. From this starting point you can adjust the groups as and when the children progress, fall behind or you find that they have a better (or worse) ability than you initially thought. But before you start to panic; the actual movement of children is never very much, with your original test giving a pretty good result.
We are looking for 3 groups to cover the whole class.

Keep your test simple and quick
It’s simply a matter of concocting a test which has questions set at 3 levels. Let me give you an example:-
Spelling groups – which children go into each of 3 groups to take home and learn the class weekly spellings?
Conduct a spelling test of 21 questions taken from the previous years spelling list. Take 7 questions from each of 3 levels from the words. All children do the same test.
Correct answers decides the group:
0 – 7 ….Group 3
8 – 14…Group 2
15 – 21..Group 1
It’s as simple as that – there is your starting point.

Guided Reading – Choose 3 different passages with differing levels and pre judge the children’s ability (this could be based on their spelling levels or on previous teacher comments). Administer the comprehension and questions in the usual way and mark the results. Using your professional judgement as to whether each child completed the test satisfactorily or not then group the children into 3 ability groups.

Why just 3 groups? – because it’s manageable. Experience shows that this is the best number of groups to successfully manage within your classroom. Any more than this and not only does your workload increase significantly but your planning will start to fragment as will the results from the children – stick with 3. This is not to say that they are 3 equal groups; nor that the same children will be in the same groups (1,2,3) for everything. Some children may have more difficulty with maths than lets say comprehension. You will find that the spread of numbers will be heavy in group 2 as you would expect and less so in groups 1 and 3. However you now have your basis for setting work that is appropriate for the children in each group.

Why only certain subjects and areas within the curriculum?
Primary education is completely different from secondary in its approach and method. There are many areas of the curriculum where children can actively learn and respond at their own level and contribute not only individually but also in mixed ability group situations. These are represented in the majority of the foundation subjects but also in areas of the core – an example being “Speaking and listening” in English.

So there you have it – ability groups are an excellent method of targeting work to children’s ability and progress in various areas of the curriculum. Not only does it help focus your planning and guide your assessment but it provides the children with the appropriate levels of challenge and success that focus and encourage the children’s learning.