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Making the most of your induction

“Remember that this is just the start, and you should not expect, or be expected, to be perfect. Professional learning carries on throughout every teacher’s career, learning through experience, through training and study, through professional participation and through the guidance, feedback, direction and support offered by colleagues and line managers.”

Professor Rachael Lofthouse, 2018

Topics on this page:

What is induction? | What can I expect from induction training? | Coping with the professional demands of teaching | How can I ensure my professional development includes a geography focus? | The professional geography community | Reading and references

Introduction

As early career teacher (ECT) you are about to embark on a specialised professional career. One thing that is certain is that the young people will not be the only ones learning in your classroom. You will also be learning every day!

As an ECT you will be in charge of your own classes, which can be daunting, but can also very rewarding. During the two induction years you should make the very best use of all the opportunities you have to work with other geographers and discuss different aspects of geography teaching.

Continue to observe expert geography teachers whenever you have the opportunity to do so, and also work with them. Fieldwork provides excellent opportunities for collaborative teaching. There is always something new you can learn from working with other teachers.

What is induction?

Induction takes place after you have gained QTS. To teach in a maintained school in England and Wales you must, by law, satisfactorily complete two years’ induction. This is not required if you teach in Further Education or in independent schools although you can complete statutory induction in these settings, and most academies expect you to do so. If you want to teach in maintained schools in the future, you must have completed induction, therefore take the opportunity to complete it when you can.

During statutory induction an ECT will have a reduced timetable, a personalised programme of development and an induction tutor/mentor will be identified to support you. At the end of the two years an ECT’s performance is judged against the Teachers’ Standards.

You can find out more about the induction requirement and answers to questions such as where you can complete induction and what happens if you change schools during the two years from the DfE website and Your guide to induction from the National Education Union (NEU).

What can I expect from induction training?

Your induction programme will help you develop further the knowledge and skills gained during initial teacher training and provide a foundation for your continuing professional development. Your induction training must be aligned with the Early Career Framework. This is a DfE requirement for all induction programmes.

In England, there are several DfE approved programmes of ECF training and your school will probably be following one of these. Your school may have opted in to the full provider programme, or just be using the DfE approved materials. Find out before you begin your teaching post if you will be following one of these programmes. Alternatively, your school may be planning its own ECF programme and if this is the case, you should ask about the details of this.

Whatever programme is followed it should be tailored to your needs and you should play an active role in planning and reviewing it. It should include: support and guidance from a designated induction tutor/mentor; observation of your teaching and follow-up discussion; regular professional reviews of progress; observation by you of experienced teachers either in your own school or in another institution where effective practice has been identified.

This should be supplemented by other professional development provided by your school such as departmental in-service training and external provision including courses and conferences.

While the DfE approved programmes are different, the on-line programmes have some common features. They each have a clear structure, usually in half-termly modules and all materials are available on line. 

There are detailed programmes for weekly routines with interactive self-study tasks and development foci for mentoring/coaching. You will have protected time in year 1 to observe colleagues and to be observed. In year 2 the programmes have more flexibility and give you more opportunity to agree a study plan with your mentor.

The full provider-led induction programmes differ but all use a blend of virtual and face-to-face training including peer-learning groups and expert-led sessions. Face-to-face sessions will take place in schools, Teaching School hubs or other centres. Some are organised with clusters to provide a community of Early Career Teachers.

The programmes will support you to learn underlying theory, put it into practice and reflect on your professional development. Your entitlement is to have a dedicated mentor in your school and their support is a core part of the programme. They should meet with you weekly in year 1 and fortnightly in year 2 and help you to build a strong understanding of the content of the Early Career Framework.

They are expected to challenge you to apply theory to your practice and explore the evidence behind education research and the implications for your teaching. They will guide your reading to dig deeper into the evidence and think about what this might mean for your practice. Your mentor will also help you to develop your teaching through practical ideas.

They will engage with you in collaborative planning and teaching and you should share best practice together. Your mentor will observe some of your teaching and provide you with feedback that identifies areas of strength and areas for improvement. This will help you to reflect on your development.

A two-year induction programme should include a range of key professional development activities such as:

  • Support to develop and practise key teaching skills and developing your teaching of geography. You should have multiple opportunities to rehearse and refine different approaches, mainly through coaching by your mentor.
  • Opportunities to work with and learn from a range of expert colleagues including geography teachers and other specialists e.g. in SEND or behaviour.
  • Professional discussions and analysis of practice with colleagues and expert teachers, reflecting on what makes teaching successful or unsuccessful and how to integrate best practice into your own teaching.
  • Opportunities to observe colleagues and deconstructing different approaches, in class observation, modelling or analysis of video.
  • Support with your professional role as you carry out your responsibilities as a full-time teacher.

In particular, your induction programme should highlight any gaps from your initial training experience and you should ensure that your mentor and school induction tutor are aware of these. 

If your initial training was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, it is very likely there were some experiences that you missed out on and it is for you to point these out so they can be accommodated in your induction programme.

Coping with the professional demands of teaching

Teaching as an early career teacher has some reductions in the demands you faced as a trainee teacher, but it has all the pressures of a new job alongside induction training. You will have to manage your time effectively. Refer again to Manage your time. Make sure you are making the most of your time. Do not take on too many new responsibilities as an ECT – say ‘no’ sometimes.

Induction training is not intended to add to an ECTs’ workload and should be delivered within the allowed timetable reduction. All ECTs should include protected non-contact time and if you are not receiving this you should discuss the situation with your mentor or induction tutor.

You are entitled to regular mentoring throughout induction training and if you do not receive adequate support you should let a senior person in your school know about it. As well as your mentor, in-school support can be provided by the school induction tutor.

How can I ensure my professional development includes a geography focus?

Some ways to do this are:

  • Clearly identify any specific aspects of geography teaching that you want to develop during your induction.
  • If your designated induction tutor is not a geography teacher, ask if you can additionally have the professional support of a geography mentor.
  • Observe experienced geography teachers.
  • Find local institutions with effective geography practice and ask if you can arrange to visit and undertake some observation there as part of your professional development. For example, you could visit a department that holds the GA Quality Mark.
  • Include the GA Annual Conference and a GA course for new teachers in your induction programme.
  • Identify other opportunities for geography CPD that you could attend and build this into your development programme. Browse the GA CPD and eventsField Studies CouncilRGS Teacher events and Prince’s Teaching Institute website for further information.
  • Look for opportunities for geography professional development in your local area, for example a local GA Branch or geography teacher network.
  • Explore opportunities for funding – see Funding opportunities for geography teachers.

The professional geography community

Everyone is apprehensive when starting a new job and a new career and geographers are no exception. It is particularly important to get involved in the geography community and to meet and discuss with other geography teachers, not only to widen your knowledge of professional practice, but also to enable you to adjust your own expectations and reflect on your own teaching in the light of discussion.

If you have concerns there is plenty of support available on the GA website for many aspects of geography teaching.

Joining your subject association, the Geographical Association, is the best way to stay connected to the community of practice of which you’ve just become a part. There are reduced GA membership rates for early career teachers, as well as for those in training.

Explore the Early Careers Geography Network @ECGeogNetwork which was set up by new geography teachers to support early career geography teachers.

Reading and references

  • Chartered College of Teaching (2020) The Early Career Framework Handbook, Sage Publishing.
  • Hollis, E. (Ed) (2021) Essential Guides for Early Career Teachers, NASBITT (This series provides quick-reads for early career teachers, covering the key topics they will encounter during their training year and first two years of teaching).
  • Jones, M. (ed) (2017) The Handbook of Secondary Geography, Sheffield: Geographical Association.

Also available from the ITE section