Jonathan Franks, Induction Lead, South Farnham Educational Trust (SFET)
Jonathan Franks
Teaching School Hub Induction Lead, South Farnham Educational Trust (SFET)

Working together to help early career teachers thrive

Jonathan Franks, SFET Teaching School Hub Induction Lead, shares his experience of delivering the Early Career Framework (ECF) with Teach First.

South Farnham Educational Trust (SFET) is made up of eight schools across the South East. In 2023 we welcomed our first secondary school.

These are exciting times for the trust. South Farnham School topped the Department for Education's performance table for primary schools in Surrey and Hampshire in 2023.

We’re a trust that holds itself to the highest standards. How we support our early career teachers (ECTs) as they start out on their teaching journey is incredibly important.

Thriving rather than just surviving

We’ve been delivering the Early Career Framework (ECF) to our schools in partnership with Teach First right from the start.

We partnered with Teach First on ECF because of the solutions and opportunities the programme could bring to our schools and teachers. 

Thanks to ECF, teachers don’t feel alone in those first couple of years. We’ve grown a community of 900 ECTs across Surrey and Hampshire. They have access to high-quality CPD and face-to-face training, allowing them to come together and not feel isolated.

And ECTs are helping to change people’s perception of teaching. Through our delivery and work with Teach First, we’re reframing the rhetoric about surviving in teaching. Yes, it is challenging, but these challenges are faced in any profession, and there’s also so much positivity that comes out of teaching.

Not just delivering a lesson

Teaching isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ activity. Delivery of lessons is so complex that it can be difficult to pinpoint where a technique may have come from. ECF has helped develop some explicit, concrete, and concise strategies that you can clearly see in action when you go into schools. It really is designed to support direct improvement in practice.

We’ve been able to shape the programme delivery in the way that ECTs want. For us, the practical elements of the ECF programme are so important in inspiring teachers to try new things in the classroom.

If ECTs leave our training sessions with two or three things they can go and do the next day to improve their practice, we’ve been successful. It’s about teachers not just delivering a lesson but teaching to support pupils’ learning.

We make each other better

The positive impact that ECF is having on our ECTs reflects the open and collaborative partnership we’ve got with Teach First.

Feedback is such an important mechanism in shaping the programme. From ECTs to us, and from us to Teach First. We wanted to find ECF training that put workload balance at the heart of its design, and that’s exactly how the programme has evolved.

Right from the beginning of our partnership, it was clear to us that this was collaborative and not a ‘we say, you do’ process. We can see changes made because of our feedback and input, and that inspires confidence.

We can also collaborate with other Teach First delivery partners via the Teach First steering boards.

I know other hubs and trusts have changed their programme delivery based on things we’ve shared. And we’ve heard things that other delivery partners are doing that we want to incorporate into our programme.

You can stagnate if you work in isolation. Working within a network, you can feed off each other’s experiences and ultimately make each other better.

Layered package of support

Teach First offers a bespoke three-part package of support which includes administrative assistance, practical programmatic help, and strategic support.

We meet weekly with our account manager, Sophie, who supports us with onboarding and administration. I have a strong relationship with Alec, who works with us on training and facilitation. Lastly, there’s Amanda, who we meet with termly to talk about strategy.

But what’s nice is that Amanda sometimes just contacts me about other things to do with the programme. We’ve built a strong relationship and direct line from our hub to Teach First. If we’ve got questions we can go to them. But equally, Teach First comes to us with bigger strategic questions that need our input too.

Don’t be afraid to say “this doesn’t work”

It’s a partnership where we aren’t afraid to say “this doesn’t work”. Being open, honest, and challenging is what’s needed to support your schools and teachers to thrive. And that’s absolutely the relationship that we have with Teach First.

It’s a collaborative partnership. You feel part of the process of building the programme while also accessing high-quality training that’s flexible enough for you to adapt to your own context.

For us, working with Teach First is well and truly worth it.

Interested in partnering with us? Find out more about becoming a Teach First delivery partner.

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