Hannah Bailey

I have recently completed my MA Education. In my dissertation, I explored the ‘Perspectives of the impact of the ITT Core Content Framework and the Early Career Framework (DFE, 2019) on the sustainability of the teaching profession’.

The government’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy (DfE, 2019) presents the quantitative data that ‘over 20% of new teachers leave the profession within their first 2 years of teaching, and 33% leave within the first 5 years’ (DfE, 2019, p10): this has therefore acted as a signpost for policy to focus on a three-year entitlement of support at the beginning of a teacher’s career and explicitly links the ITT CCF to the ECF. Although there is no expectation in the government documentation that this will be the single solution to the teachers’ sustainability issue, this early career support is at the heart of the Recruitment and Retention Strategy.

My research was an analysis of a series of semi-structured interviews with a range of stakeholders: this was heavily placed in interpretivism as I wanted to reflect the ‘ever shifting landscape’ (Thomas, 2017, p110) of society and education policy, particularly in light of the pandemic. One interesting analogy that came out of my data, was using the ITT CCF and the ECF as a map at the beginning of a teacher’s career. When we are presented with a new journey or experience we need a map to show us the main landmarks, and the identification of these main ‘teaching landmarks’ within the ITT CCF and ECF was seen as an important piece of clarification for all stakeholders.

However, there was a concern from mentors and leaders that there was an unrealistic understanding that ‘ticking off’ all of these generic ‘landmarks’ would lead to being a competent teacher. In reality, this is the equivalent of merely following a tourist map in a new city: trainees will see all of the highlights and have a wonderful collection of photographs, but will they have the experience of truly understanding a new place, of enjoying a hidden park that is not on the map or having a discussion with the locals?! Does a basic map give us a real understanding of what it is like to change from being a tourist to becoming a resident, or in this case to understand the nuances around the purposes of education and being a teacher?

My research suggests the first experience of the holistic role of an educator happens only once teachers have completed the generic requirements to gain QTS: this does not necessarily sufficiently prepare them for the broadening and increasingly complex role of a teacher, therefore having a negative impact on sustainability.

The challenge ahead is to ensure that, while the minimum entitlement of the ITT CCF and ECF are met, ‘expert colleagues’ in schools and ITT leads have agency and are empowered to design and deliver bespoke support that they know individual trainees and ECTs need in order to develop; recognising that all trainees and ECTs will have different starting points and needs, depending on past experience and their chosen route into teaching, will ensure that they are able to create their own journey and explore beyond the ‘tourist map’.

An investment in the subjectification purpose of education (Biesta, 2015) would recognise that all journeys will be, and should be, different depending on the needs and passions of each individual: maps are things that do not provide answers, they only suggest where to look (Kidd, 2018). Maps give us an indication of what there is to see and know, but mentors and leaders, as a long-term residents, not ‘tourists’, in the profession need to have the autonomy to lead their mentees through a bespoke route and to specific ‘destinations’ that will be valuable and empowering for that particular trainee or ECT.

As ITT leaders and ’expert colleagues’, we need to resist the ‘deadening desire for certainty that drives us through content at pace, without time to wander and discover all that lies off the beaten path’ (Kidd, 2018, p65). We need to ensure that the ITT CCF and ECF do not restrict our trainees and ECTs but promote ‘learning without limits’ (Peacock, 2018): not everyone will travel at the same pace and professional judgement from experienced colleagues will dictate when it is time to move on. It is crucial that learners are able to consider a path, and a world, that they can create and not simply experience (Kidd, 2018, p65) in order to have genuine connection with the profession.

My research showed me that a profound understanding of the complexities of teaching leads to trainees and ECTs feeling connected and fulfilled and would have a positive impact on sustainability across the profession. As providers, in order to promote agency and influence,  I feel that we need to ensure that all stakeholders are active and not passive and see the ITT CCF and ECF as  ‘an ordnance survey, not a sat nav’ (Kidd, 2018, p66): whilst all trainees need to complete the ‘tourist trail’, in order to experience what life is like as a ‘long term resident’ within the profession, they need to be able to have ownership and explore the complexities of the role of a teacher for themselves.

Hannah Bailey is Primary Programme Lead at TKAT SCITT. This blog is based on an unpublished MA dissertation from Canterbury Christ Church University. Please contact the author if you wish to quote or reference this piece.



  1. Kate Reeves on February 6, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Chris Carpenter on August 31, 2023 at 6:57 am

    I found this a thought provoking piece and it raises several points for me. First, is there a case to say that since the Education Reform Act (1988) the way that education has been subject to increasing neo-liberal ideologies has meant that there is a focus on prediction and control. In doing this the ‘visible’ and the ‘measurable’ are privileged. This has led to what Stephen Ball (2003) referred to as ‘performativity’. It feels to me that the side effects of this are that teaching is seen in a performative way and by implications teachers require their students to be performative. Second, that it is interesting, to me, to consider what is not said. I regret that pedagogy is not seen as a topic to be considered and when it is the term is often used as a synonym for the act of teaching. Of course pedagogy is a deeply contested term and personally I welcome this as it suggests that education is not capable of being reduced to a set of criteria. I offer the idea here that pedagogy is about teacher knowledge, values and strategies. The assumption in policy seems to be that the preferred teacher is performative, market aware and keen to enact policy. Third, it seems to me that the idea of a teacher ‘education’ is gradually being reduced to an apprenticeship. Tomlinson (1996) argued that the process of teaching is intelligent problem solving in an open environment. That speaks to me. It feels to me that all the concerns about teaching being reduced to a technical process, which was in the literature in the 1990s are now well established now which I would argue is de-professionalizing and given the resulting lack of agency combined with other factors, it is no surprise to me that teachers leave. What should we be doing?

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