Accelerate was created and developed by Education Development Trust in 2018 in partnership with the Chartered College of Teaching to support early career teachers with the aim of quickly raising quality of practice and increasing confidence. Funded by the Department for Education in England, the programme was created for schools which are classed as requiring improvement or are within an area defined as having the greatest need.
In England the retention rates of early-career teachers have fallen considerably in recent years. This combined with continuing teacher recruitment challenges has led to a significant teacher shortage in some subjects, so the need to increase early-career teacher retention rates is high. The first few years of a teacher’s career are critical, where learning opportunities, nurturing and support can make or break a career in teaching.
All early-career teachers face challenges, but in some schools, they are particularly acute. Raising the attainment of children continues to be a focus in England, particularly in areas where this falls below the national average and social mobility is low. High-quality teaching is the biggest in-school factor in raising the attainment of children, making the greatest difference to disadvantaged pupils.
Teachers’ learning curves are at their steepest in the early years of their careers. To reach a high standard quickly, teachers need sustained, expert support. However, schools in challenging circumstances may have limited capacity to provide this, so teachers may not fulfil their potential.
The four-term programme commenced early in 2019 with teachers receiving their formal induction onto the programme and access to online activities and learning content. There were several face-to-face training sessions across the four terms where participants have expert input and work with teachers across all subject areas – a 2-day regional residential and two further locally held one-day workshops which focus on the key content of the learning modules.
Specialist coaches supported participants throughout on a 1:1 basis, guided online conversations with programme participants, and ran short local workshops each term to bring participants together. Online modules guided participants’ practice and prompted reflection on development, providing practical video examples, activities and resources tailored to different subject areas and phases.
Accelerate participants were supported by excellent Teaching School Alliances (TSAs) who acted as delivery hubs. They led local delivery utilising significant pre-existing regional networks, provided coaches and hosted communities of practice and events. These hubs received support from our own small central team with coaches receiving intensive face-to-face and online training, as well as expert supervision.
Our blended learning model included a feature-rich, mobile-friendly online learning platform as well as video coaching software to ensure that our programme of support was as accessible and flexible as possible to meet the needs of participants.
Feedback gathered throughout the course of the programme showed that the vast majority of participants felt that they received a quality experience that impacted on their teaching practices:
This relatively short-term intervention had the ambitious aim of having measurable impact on participants, their schools and ultimately pupils through their improved teaching.
94% of respondents felt that the training and support they received would have an immediate impact on their pupils’ learning and many commented through feedback that they were learning skills that they were able to immediately put into practice in their classrooms.
Taking our learning from Accelerate Teaching Programme, we will continue to support early career teachers in England through the Early Career Professional Development Programme, part of the early roll out of the Department for Education’s Early Career Framework.
I’ve never experienced anything like this…the opportunity to listen to such inspiring speakers and mix with so many other early career teachers has been amazing
Accelerate participant, Manchester residential event