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A mentor's perspective on the ECF

The Early Career Framework, or ECF, is one of the most radical changes in England’s schools. With the focus on supporting and developing Early Career Teachers, the logic is clear: better support and development has the potential to improve teaching quality as well as keeping more teachers in the profession.

After my school has been part of the pilot programme, here are my reflection as a mentor.

I’ve really enjoyed the shared language the ECF provides.

A prompt for professional dialogue

The detail in the framework allows for an action-focussed meeting. Previously as a mentor, I have found that sometimes discussion would lack focus and real purpose. The framework has made mentor meetings much more fruitful. Primarily, I believe this is due to the ECF’s two key strands: knowledge and application.

I’ve really liked to refer to the ‘learn how to’ section of the ECF to structure discussion – it has allowed the transformation of abstract concepts into tangible, research-based goals. For instance, when discussing with an ECT about their planning, the practical nature of the learn how to section has led to a concrete, action-focussed plans, with a clear focus on the development of the ECT’s classroom practice – I truly believe this will be a game changer for ECTs.

Consistency is Key

I’ve really enjoyed the shared language the ECF provides. When meeting with my mentee, the clear structure has allowed us to fully explore the different strands of the ECF in detail, with minimal deviation from the intended aims of the framework.

Engelmann’s work on Direct Instruction looks at the ‘wording principle’ – using a common language to allow us to be ‘unambiguous and precise’ when discussing key ideas and strategies, and this has been revolutionary in conducting efficient mentor check-ins. Equally, I’ve found this has allowed for fidelity when transferring our discussions to classroom practice as we have a shared understanding of key ideas..

Research Informed

The ECF is rooted in research. As a profession, we are making vast leaps in understanding which factors most influence our students and our classrooms. This is exactly the kind of information that we want our ECTs to have access to – and having an opportunity to debate and discuss them has again led to a more purposeful mentor meetings.

It’s hard to know for sure, but I think my mentee has been more encouraged to try new strategies and techniques because they are ‘best bets’ from the research evidence. Long-term, I hope this will lead to all teachers having an evidence-informed approach to their teaching practice; in turn, leading to better outcomes for our students – every teacher’s ultimate goal.


Liv Farrell is an English Teacher at The Academy at Shotton Hall, County Durham. She also works within Shotton Hall Research School. Join the Research School newsletter.


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