How the Early Career Framework will banish one history lesson
As the Early Career Framework for NQTs rolls out, Reuben Moore, our Executive Director for Programme Development, reflects on his early days as a teacher.
Picture the scene.
There I am, standing in front of my history class, trying my best to embody the character of a medieval courtroom judge.
My goal for the lesson had been simple enough: give my pupils a fun chance to use their knowledge about medieval village life in a mock historical trial so they could make informed and contextually-accurate decisions.
I’d spent a long time assigning everyone a role, developing in-depth details of the trial and even arranging the room in a different way.
I knew that I was going to be observed by my tutor during that lesson, so I was particularly keen to show how I’d developed as a teacher and also how the pupils had increased their understanding of the topic.
It didn’t go to plan. Sure, everyone had fun, but in no way did it resemble a history lesson. If anything, it was more like a drama lesson.
The pupils had unquestionably failed to demonstrate any historical understanding whatsoever. And I knew it.
My tutor could see I was deflated and sympathised but we agreed that there was much development needed on my part.
I managed to suppress this slightly painful classroom memory for many years, but I was reminded of it recently when I was learning about the Department for Education’s new two-year Early Career Framework.
Support for teachers at the start of their career
The framework, a new support package for teachers at the start of their career, outlines the key ways that NQTs should be supported to integrate theory, practice and feedback. There’s an entire section dedicated to “how pupils learn”, so that future NQTs will receive extra guidance to help their pupils to use and apply their knowledge.
Furthermore, in the “how to plan and teach lessons” section of the framework, it explores how to make activities as distraction-free as possible to allow pupils to concentrate on the core of the learning, rather than get carried away with unnecessary details.
And I couldn’t help but think of my medieval courtroom: the very definition of an “unnecessary detail”. Yes, I’d worked hard in my preparation for that fateful lesson, but had focused on the wrong thing. Likewise, the pupils had applied themselves as best as they could, but in the wrong way, which meant I’d provided them with no opportunities to recall and apply their knowledge of medieval life.
And this is why I know that NQTs who’ll be among the first to benefit from early regional roll outs of the Early Career Framework from September 2020 will have a great advantage. These teachers will have extra mentoring and training to ensure their efforts, and the efforts of their pupils, are never wasted.
A benefit for teachers and pupils
I know for a fact that, had I received the crucial guidance and support outlined in the Early Career Framework during my formative years in the classroom, I’d have become a better history teacher more quickly and, in turn, my pupils would have benefited.
At a time where workload is such a key issue for teachers, any opportunity to give early career teachers the knowledge and confidence to thrive in the classroom – and to save themselves time while doing so – should be welcomed with open arms.
The Early Career Framework provides a two-year package for Newly Qualified Teachers and their mentors. Supported and fully funded by the Department for Education, Teach First is delivering the early roll out of the programme in the North East, Greater Manchester, Doncaster and Bradford from September 2020, before a national launch in 2021. Find out more about our Early Career Framework programme.