ECF research- School case studies
The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and BMG Research Limited have been commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to undertake a 3-year process evaluation of the new statutory Early Career Framework (ECF) induction programme for Early Career Teachers (ECTs). The research began in August 2021 and will finish in September 2024. A key part of the evaluation involves liaising with schools who are implementing the programme.
It is important to note that the research is NOT an evaluation of individual schools, staff, or delivery partners. It is also not a formal impact evaluation. Key to the success of the evaluation is working closely with schools and understanding how the ECF programme is working in different contexts. We are interested in how the programme is playing out, what is working well and what could be improved. These findings are important and are being fed back to DfE to inform how the programme is delivered going forward.
School-based case studies
We aim to carry out virtual case studies with 25 schools across the research timeframe, and where possible to follow some of these schools as they implement and embed the new induction process.
In the first instance, during May and June 2022, we would like to work with 10 schools to undertake interviews (by phone or video).
Ideally, we would work with one individual in the school to help us identify who we could interview and to set up the meetings for us.
We would like to speak with:
■ Representative(s) of the senior leadership team in the school (and MAT if appropriate, for example the CEO or Executive Principal) who had/have responsibility for decisions around which delivery option and provider (if relevant) to use.
■ The induction tutor and others responsible for administering the ECF and monitoring progress.
■ Mentors (1 to 3) responsible for providing mentoring support and encouragement for ECTs.
■ ECTs (1 to 3) who started on or after September 2021, and (if appropriate) ECTs involved in the Early Roll-Out who will be in their 2nd year of induction.
We expect each interview to last 45 minutes. Interviews will take place over video conferencing software or by phone, whichever is most convenient for the interviewee. We can be flexible with meeting times and can accommodate early morning and evening interviews to work around classroom commitments. The interviews do not need to take place all on the same day and can be spread across days/times. Interviews can be undertaken individually or in groups, depending on availability of participants and their preferences.
Also, if possible, we would like to speak with:
■ A representative of those responsible for developing and delivering the training in the school. For those on the full induction programme this will be the delivery partner.
■ A representative from the school’s Appropriate Body.
■ Other teachers in the school who may play a role in supporting and encouraging ECTs and mentors.
In total, each case study will involve between five and ten individuals to gather a range of views.
We aim to select a range of schools to engage with as part of these case studies to gather a wide range of experiences and perspectives of how the ECF induction programme is being delivered and supported across different types of schools. This will include schools who:
■ are involved in the national roll-out (NRO) of the ECF induction, and may also have been involved in the early roll-out (ERO),
■ have chosen the full, core or school-based induction programme,
■ have different lead providers or working with materials developed by different lead providers,
■ are working with teaching school hubs (or TSH partnerships) to deliver the programme or other types of delivery partner,
■ are part of large and small MATs or are stand-alone schools,
■ are primary or secondary schools or specialist settings,
■ and based in different parts of the country.
The case studies are particularly critical to the research as they will enable us to build on key themes emerging from the longitudinal surveys and provide more in-depth insight into what is working well and what needs to be improved.
The case studies aim to improve our understanding of:
■ Staff awareness and perceptions of the ECF induction programme, including expectations of the programme’s impacts.
■ How schools were initially engaged in the programme; what information was provided to schools; and how schools decided which delivery option to choose and who to work with.
■ Experiences of delivery of the ECF induction programmes, how well it is working in the school and what aspects work well and what work less well (requiring adaptions) including design and structure, delivery platforms, fitting in with timetabling, and embedding into the work and culture of the school.
■ Feedback on engagement and satisfaction of participants with the ECF induction programme chosen.
■ Potential challenges with engagement and delivery issues (including managing commitments and balancing training and mentoring with teaching workload), solutions developed and adopted to address challenges, and facilitators and success factors.
■ How schools work with their delivery partner, appropriate body and DfE.
■ Perceptions of the ECF induction programme’s impact, lessons learned so far, and plans for next year.
■ Implications for policy and general implementation moving forwards.
We understand that schools have been involved in other strands of research and aim to minimise the burden placed on them with this research. If you have been involved in other research around teacher training and CPD you are not precluded from taking part in this research, however, please let us know if you have no wish to engage further in the case study aspect of the evaluation.
As noted, we hope to carry out follow-up interviews with a small number of our case study schools in Spring Term 2023 and Spring Term 2024.
Overall aim of the project
To support continuous development of the programme and to support its effective implementation and embedding, DfE has commissioned this process evaluation to understand how it works and where it works well, and to share learning and insights with the full range of stakeholders across the education sector.
The process evaluation will therefore:
■ Help DfE understand how well the ECF induction programme is being delivered and how the different processes and actors involved in its delivery contribute to the aims of improving the quality and retention of early career teachers.
■ Provide emerging insights including self-reported perceptions of the impact on retention and quality of ECTs.
At its core, the process evaluation will follow the first ECF induction cohort from September 2021 for the duration of the two-year programme and will involve the full range of key stakeholders involved in delivering, supporting, and participating in the induction programme. The process evaluation aims to understand:
■ Reasons for adopting one delivery option over another (i.e. full induction programme, core induction programme or school-based programme); and, where relevant, reasons for choosing to work with one core induction programme over another, or with one Lead Provider and Delivery Partner over others.
■ Expectations and experiences of the different delivery approaches of the ECF induction (from different stakeholder perspectives) – covering recruitment to the programme, content/focus, delivery, materials, support and mentoring, assessment, and funding/payment.
■ The perceived impacts of the ECF induction, across the different delivery options on teacher development, quality and retention.
■ How views of the ECF induction vary across different stakeholder groups and characteristics of the school, early career teacher or mentor.
The evaluation will also consider stakeholders’ experiences of the early roll-out of the induction programme and the challenges associated with managing multiple cohorts simultaneously.
The aim is to share with stakeholders the findings from the evaluation, as and when they emerge, to facilitate improvements to the programme and its delivery.
The evaluation will gather, synthesise, and triangulate evidence from a range of stakeholders to answer the research questions set by DfE and share lessons learnt with those involved in the ECF induction and wider education sector. The evaluation will conduct:
■ 25 360-degree school-based case studies.
■ Interviews with 45 schools, with induction tutors and representatives from the senior leadership teams.
■ Longitudinal surveys of induction tutors, ECTs, and mentors in all schools involved in the national roll-out, tracking the first cohort throughout the two-years of their programme with three waves of surveys. The baseline survey took place between December 2021 and January 2022, and the mid-point survey will take place in May 2022.
■ Analysis of programme documentation.
■ Liaison with all lead providers and representation from their delivery chains.
■ Analysis of programme management information (MI) captured through the DfE’s teachers CPD digital platform.
The DfE are keen to disseminate findings and learning throughout the research process to support improvements, and we are currently working with them to identify the best method of providing timely feedback to education sector stakeholders. This is likely to take the format of research briefings (potentially twice yearly) to ensure learning is shared across all stakeholders. A final report, summarising the key findings from the evaluation, will be published at the end of the project after September 2024. In these research outputs (briefings and final report) findings will be provided as an aggregate and hence no individual schools or staff will be identifiable in the reported analysis. The exception is where examples of good practice are highlighted, and these will be cleared with the schools involved so they can be attributed.
Department for Education: Sue Porter (Project Manager). E: Sue.Porter@education.gov.uk.
About IES: IES is an independent, apolitical, international centre of research in employment policy and human resource management issues. IES is a not-for-profit organisation.
Institute for Employment Studies, City Gate, 185 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN3 1TL United Kingdom. www.employment-studies.co.uk . 01273 763400
 There are several surveys of schools and individuals taking place during the 2021/22 academic year relating to teachers CPD including the induction programme for early career teachers. Where possible the burden on schools and individuals will be minimised by avoiding overlaps in surveys and sampling.