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Mentor workload ‘too high’, Damian Hinds admits

Schools minister Damian Hinds has admitted the workload of new teacher mentors is “too high” as he unveiled a package of measures to improve training – including combining the two flagship frameworks.

The government will today publish its review of the initial teacher training core content framework (CCF) and the early career framework (ECF).

Changes include combining the pair into the new initial teacher training and early career framework (ITTECF).

This will mean teachers “get a more joined up development journey beyond initial training into the early years of their career”.

The framework has also been updated to include more content on how teachers can support pupils with SEND, measures aimed at cutting workload for mentors and providing more subject-specific training.

Writing for Schools Week, Hinds said: “I want this country to be the best place to become a great teacher. These improvements are not just policy changes; they’re a pledge to back our teachers for the long term.”

Damian Hinds

A key issue raised with the ECF, rolled out nationally in 2021 to give new teachers training time across two years, was the workload of mentors, experienced teachers who support their newly-training colleagues.

Nearly half of mentors surveyed by Teacher Tapp said they had not been given enough time off timetable to provide training.

Mentor workload is ‘too high’

Hinds admitted today that mentor workload is “too high”. Ministers are now “shortening ECF mentor training to one year and providing ready-to-use resources” that will let them “focus on nurturing new talent”.

DfE will also announce up to £25 million to schools and providers to “increase mentoring capacity and enable ITT mentors time off to undertake training”, he said. 

He said merging the two frameworks would get rid of “areas of unnecessary repetition between ITT and early career training” – one of the criticisms of the flagship frameworks.

ECF providers will also be told to “ensure courses are designed to build on prior learning, with delivery tailored to each early career teacher’s development needs – supported by new diagnostic tools,” Hinds added.

To support early career teachers to “relate their training to their context and subject”, Hinds said providers will “develop enhanced subject-specific materials, and Oak National Academy will collaborate” with them “to further enrich their subject-specific materials”.

A study last year recommended ministers should review the external training provided to early career teachers, deliver more subject or phase-specific coaching materials and ensure staff get time off timetable.

Around two-thirds of early career teachers (ECTs) felt the training added to their workload and similar numbers said the training did not cover anything they didn’t already know from their initial teacher training.

‘Focus on adaptive teaching and SEND’

Meanwhile, Hinds said the DfE is “significantly expanding the framework’s focus on adaptive teaching and SEND… Enhanced SEND exemplification materials will be a key feature of the updated ECF programmes”.

The framework has been updated to include content on “high quality oral language, and early cognitive development and children’s mental health”, a DfE press release said ahead of further details being published later today.

Professor Becky Francis, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation charity (EEF) said it has independently assessed and endorsed the framework and “made sure the claims it makes accurately reflect the evidence from which they were drawn”.

DfE said “later this year” it will be procuring updated training programmes for early career teachers (ECTs) based on the new framework and the updated programmes will be rolled out from September 2025.

Margaret Mulholland, ASCL SEN & Inclusion Policy Specialist added: “Whilst there are no ‘quick fixes’ for teachers or children, an Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework that gives more specific focus to developing the knowledge and skills to support pupils that need the most help is welcomed.”

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