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Early career support: pilot evaluation

Piloting ways to support new teachers and their mentors using the Early Career Framework.

Ahead of the rollout of the Early Career Framework in England, three pilot programmes were developed to test different ways of supporting new teachers and their mentors. Two pilot programmes were developed by Ambition Institute, and a further one by the Chartered College of Teaching.

These were evaluated by a team from the Centre for Teachers and Teaching Research (CTTR).

This is an 18 month project (June 2019 - December 2020) funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

Background

The pilot programmes 

Following a meta-analysis by Kraft et al. (2018), both developers saw instructional coaching as a potential model for developing practice through short, focused observations followed by coaching conversations. 

The developed pilot programmes all aimed to provide mentors with the resources to deliver instructional coaching sessions to early career teachers (in their first two years of teaching). 

The pilot evaluated three programmes to do this:

Programme A (Ambition Institute) 

This programme provided face-to-face training, a coaching guide, weekly online resources, and regular online coaching and support sessions to in-school mentors.

School induction leads also received face-to-face training, designed to enable them to support mentors. Mentors used the programme to deliver instructional coaching to Early Career Teachers (ECTs), either weekly or fortnightly.

Programme B (Ambition Institute) 

This programme provided the same training as Programme A to mentors and school induction leads. In addition, this Programme also delivered weekly online content and regular online support sessions directly to ECTs. 

The programme was also used to enable in-school mentors to deliver weekly or fortnightly instructional coaching sessions to ECTs. 

Programme C (Chartered College of Teaching) 

Programme C provided online support to mentors, school induction leads and ECTs. All received a selection of online modules, providing weekly content to mentors and ECTs which was used to facilitate either weekly or fortnightly instructional coaching sessions, delivered by mentors to ECTs.

Kraft, M., Blazar, D. and Hogan, D. (2018). The Effect of Teacher Coaching on Instruction and Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of the Causal Evidence. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 547- 588.

Methodology

The pilot evaluation

The developers each recruited schools to the pilot programmes, which were delivered to teachers teaching a variety of different year groups, and subjects, spanning primary and secondary.

At the end of the evaluation there was a total of 98 schools across the pilot programmes: 50 primary schools, 45 secondary schools and three all-through schools. 

The evaluation aimed to examine the evidence of promise, feasibility and scalability of the programmes using a mixed methods approach.

Methods

Online surveys 

Three surveys including items common across the pilot programmes and items specific to each model. The sample included all mentors, mentees and a senior leader from each school. The surveys took place pre-training, in November 2019 and May 2020.

In-depth case studies 

The case studies included interrogation of materials, interviews and observation of coaching and mentoring sessions. The sample was made up of 20 schools. Visits took place in November 2019 and online interviews were conducted in May 2020.

Review of programme

Members of the research team used their experience as teacher educators to evaluate elements of the programme. Online materials were sampled and materials accessed, pertaining to each programme component. These took place throughout the pilot. 

Engagement data

Data collected by evaluators around access to materials and completion of tasks and/or setting of targets (‘Action Steps’). The sample was made up of all available data. This data was collected at regular intervals and analysed in December 2019 and June 2020.

Themes and levels

In order to support the clarity of reporting around three complex pilot programmes, and to allow comparison and contrast between the programmes, we developed overarching themes and levels to structure our findings. These emerged from analysis of case study data and then relating this to survey findings.

We identified that the features related to promise clustered around two overarching themes:

Theme 1: Addressing the individual development needs of NQTs and mentors.

Theme 2: Valuing the mentoring process and ECT development within schools.

The features related to feasibility clustered around the ways in which the programmes interact with three levels of the education system. We report these as themes also, for coherence of reporting all the themes within this report:

Theme 3 (Level 1): Mentor-mentee – habits and processes around mentoring and coaching

Theme 4 (Level 2): School – organisational culture, leadership, resources

Theme 5 (Level 3): Wider system – Local Education Authorities, Appropriate Bodies, MATs, Initial Teacher Education providers

Features related to scalability clustered around two themes:

Theme 6: How far the logic model describes the processes of change.

Theme 7: The affordances and barriers we anticipate if the pilot programmes were taken to a larger number and broader range of schools.

Team

Principal Investigator

Co-investigators

Findings

Introduction

COVID-19 meant that we only saw the very early stages of these programmes, and both Ambition Institute and the Chartered College of Teaching were continually improving processes and resources. Both organisations were also required to deliver training in order to fit the Early Career Framework, which conditioned their approach. Each programme demonstrated some promise. 


Programmes

Ambition Institute (Programmes A and B)

With regards to Ambition Institute Programmes A and B, early career teachers, mentors and induction leads (senior leaders) who participated in surveys and case studies were generally positive about the support the programme offered. Online materials and associated instructional coaching were perceived by a majority of respondents as being high quality and have impact. 

Programme B may have demonstrated more promise, as the provision of resources directly to early career teachers offered them more autonomy, and motivated mentors to engage with resources too.

Chartered College of Teaching (Programme C)

The Chartered College of Teaching’s programme also demonstrated promise. Those early career teachers, mentors and induction leads who participated in surveys and case studies reflected that the online resources, and the subsequent coaching and observations were high quality and had impact. 


Methods

Surveys

Across all three programmes, there were also improvements in our measures of early career teacher and mentor efficacy in surveys; however, these surveys do have limitations due to different samples and low response rates. There were also limitations identified for the programmes. 

Case studies

Case study participants frequently noted that resources across all programmes could be more flexible and could better suit the individual needs of early career teachers and mentors (in terms of differentiating for mentor experience and early career teacher progression, and being flexible enough to provide content when it is needed most, rather than in a rigid sequential manner). 

Online delivery

The online delivery methods were not valued by teachers, who found them difficult to attend (although some could be viewed later) and found they did not support learning in their schools directly. 


Dimensions of interest

Feasibility

A key challenge to the feasibility of the approaches was insufficient time. Case study participants and survey respondents suggested that both early career teachers and mentors perceived this to be a challenge, but it was most acutely felt by mentors. 

Across all programmes, it appears that the majority of mentors were not able to accommodate the programmes with their existing workloads and this likely contributed to low levels of engagement and attendance in online sessions. 

Integration

Where mentors were given time to deliver the programme, there was greater evidence of promise reported by all mentors, early career teachers and induction leads. A connected challenge is how the programmes align with in-school and wider system processes to support new teachers. 

Some case study school participants reflected that the addition of another programme alongside existing processes led to increased workload, while the existing processes were often prioritised (as they provided important contextual, procedural and logistical knowledge for early career teachers). 

Careful thought is required to consider how programmes delivering the Early Career Framework can integrate with and replace existing procedures, and how schools may be encouraged to prioritise mentoring/coaching in order to overcome these logistical barriers. 

Scalability

Given the large amount of online delivery, these programmes are scalable. However, the above issues around feasibility would need to be addressed.

Please see the full report (PDF, 2.2MB) for further details. 

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