Nicola Podd, Director of Programmes at Driver Youth Trust
Nicola Podd
Director of Programmes at Driver Youth Trust

How the Early Career Framework supports pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) 

Nicola Podd from Driver Youth Trust discusses what makes the Early Career Framework a vital tool in supporting SEND provision.

Meeting the needs of all pupils can be challenging for teachers at any stage in their career, but especially for those who are new to the profession. Gaining experience of working with pupils with additional needs takes time and will vary depending on the phase and setting where each new teacher is deployed.

At Driver Youth Trust, we believe every young person should access the highest quality education, responsive to their literacy needs. We advocate for learners with literacy difficulties and campaign for systemic change on their behalf. Over the last year it has been a privilege to work in partnership with Teach First, who’ve applied our expertise in literacy and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) to their fantastic Early Career Framework programme (ECF). Our specialist consultant teachers have specifically contributed to modules five (How can you support all pupils to succeed?) and six (How can you plan a coherent curriculum?).

For early career teachers, the ECF aims to accelerate the development of knowledge and experience in their first two years of practice. It takes teachers beyond the SEND Code of Practice to develop their teaching, providing an opportunity to explore specific elements of supporting learners with SEND and literacy difficulties.

The following approaches are the key elements we consider essential to supporting learners with SEND:

  • Adaptive Teaching. The need for all teachers to have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve in a lesson, and the best way of achieving that learning whilst engaging all pupils.
  • Cognitive concepts. Supporting new teachers to plan and deliver content in their lessons, whilst dealing with all the other demands and distractions that go with being classroom.
  • Curriculum development designed around an understanding of the literacy skills and subject-specific content learners need to develop. This is on top of knowing how we build those skills across all years of schooling; not only the introduction of new skills, but also the retrieval and reinforcement of previous knowledge.
  • A graduated approach to help teachers reflect on the different approaches they can take when teaching. Particularly those that can help pupils better understand what they need to do, how they need to plan, write or respond to questions.

These elements are just the start of what can be a hugely rewarding area of work for teachers. It takes time to acquire and perfect each area, as they progress through their career.

Through the Early Career Framework, Driver Youth Trust and Teach First hope to support teachers to build their knowledge, understanding and confidence right from the very start of their career. This programme will help new teachers feel confident in the classroom, supporting SEND pupils to thrive whilst learning skills and strategies that benefit all learners. The ECF is a vital way to increase understanding of provision for learners with special educational needs at a key moment in a teacher’s career.


Teach First are proud to be one of four accredited providers offering the Early Career Framework. Supported and funded by the Department for Education, Teach First is delivering the two-year early roll out of the programme in the North East, Greater Manchester, Doncaster and Bradford as well as the one-year national expansion across the rest of the country from September 2020. 

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