Early Career Teachers: How to prepare for the world of working in education

Early Career Teachers: How to prepare for the world of working in education

After months of textbooks, exams, studying and preparing, you’re finally ready for your ECT (Early Career Teacher) years!

Known as NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) in Wales and previously called this in England, your ECT years consist of extra training and support after achieving your PGCE. Want to make sure you make the most of these years? Read on for our guidance and top tips on the ECT program in England. For more information on Wales' NQT scheme, head to the Welsh Government's website.


What will happen during my ECT years?

You’ll be known as an ECT for your first two years of teaching, where you will follow a package of training and support created by the UK Government’s Department of Education. The training is called the ECF (Early Career Framework) and follows on from the initial teacher training you’ve already completed.

This training will be given to you by your school, and you will have a mentor who will be there to provide one-to-one support, give you guidance and coaching in your subject area while working with your school to ensure the training you receive is the best it can be.

You will spend 12-16 hours a week teaching by the end of your second year, as well as PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time, which should take up 10% of your weekly teaching timetable. In your first year, you will have a 10% reduction of your timetable and 5% in your second year. This deduction is so you can spend time learning and developing. The hours you teach will vary from school to school, so be sure to check when you arrive.

Are there tests and assessments?

Your ECT years in England will not only help you learn and develop, but also show that you can meet the Teachers’ Standards. There will be an induction period which you will need to pass to continue teaching. There will be two formal assessment meetings with your mentor, one midway through induction and one at the end, these will evidence how you’re meeting the Teachers’ Standards, using elements such as lesson plans for evidence.

Outside of assessments, you will be observed in the lesson throughout your time as an ECT by your induction tutor or a member of the senior leadership team, the first observation will be within your first four weeks.

How to prepare for your first day as an Early Career Teacher

Outside of setting your alarms and making a tasty packed lunch, there are steps you can take ahead of your first day as an ECT, here’s our checklist:

  • Introduce yourself to your mentor: Use this time to help build a strong professional relationship, and make a good first impression!
  • Policies and handbooks: Have you read through the school’s policies? Have you researched the school online and checked their ethos and goals? This research will help build your confidence ahead of stepping into the classroom.
  • Lesson plans: We’re sure you’ve got some lesson plans up your sleeve, it’s time to get them in order! Research, print and sort anything you need to deliver your lesson and load them up onto an online drive (e.g. Google or OneDrive) or a USB. For more lesson plan advice, check out this My-Progression video.
  • Dress code: Do you know the school dress code? Make sure you have a professional, appropriate outfit to make the best first impression. This video explains more about dress code advice.
  • Decide your classroom rules and activities: This will also depend on the school’s policy, but a classroom with personality is one that will leave a lasting impression on both the pupils and leaders. Do you have a greeting which the class can all do together? How will you gain the classes’ attention? How will you reward good behaviour?

Every educator is different, and we’re sure there are tips and tricks you’ve picked up throughout your studying. If you have some top tips to prepare for your first day, leave them in the comments below.

Your own class and classroom

There are so many exciting, rewarding things to look forward to during your time as an ECT; the knowledge and hands-on experience you’ll gain, the fact you’ll be inspiring and supporting the next generation, the fact that no two days will be the same… it will all come together to create a lifetime of memories and unique experiences.

One of the exciting elements that may be overlooked in your ECT years is your first class and classroom, and this is a time you can really put your stamp on; decorations, displays and diagrams, that you can really show both your skill and your knowledge in this classroom and create a positive environment for learning.

How you can customise your classroom:

Accelerate your career with CPD

These two years will be chock-full of knowledge for you to soak up and power up your career. If there is a topic you feel nervous about, or maybe your mentor has pointed out an area for improvement, you can use CPD (Continuous Professional Development) to boost your learning and build your classroom confidence.

As a teacher, you are expected to undertake CPD to nurture areas you need to develop. There are courses, training events and seminars/webinars you can undertake, as well as CPD videos that can fit around your busy schedule.

My-Progression is designed to give you a confidence boost via CPD, from lesson planning and behaviour management to Ofsted inspections and intervention lessons, My-Progression covers it all!

Here are our top My-Progression videos for an ECT:

To keep your career in motion during your ECT years and beyond, be sure to like and subscribe to keep seeing more from My-Progression.

We’re sure you’ll love every second of your ECT year, and those two years will fly by! Hands-on experience is so important to your learning during this time, so if you’re looking for a new school to develop in, speak to TeacherActive.

TeacherActive is one of the UK’s biggest education agencies, helping teachers find roles in educational settings since 2004. If you’re looking for an ECT placement, want to take on part-time work around your ECT years, or want to try something different after your ECT years, speak to us today.