Two-thirds of secondary early career teachers rate subject knowledge training as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’

Over the last week, NATRE has been conducting a flash survey for secondary teachers in their first two years in the profession since qualification (ECTs). We wanted to hear their assessment of the delivery of the government funded programme designed to develop their subject knowledge. When NATRE began its grant funded New2RE programme 7 years ago, one of the drivers was the evidence that lack of subject knowledge was a key factor in the alarming proportions of teachers leaving the profession in the early years of their careers. We are proud to report that New2RE participants, with the benefits of extensive subject knowledge learning, stayed in teaching at significantly higher rates.

When the government announced their Early Career Framework with a clear commitment to addressing the issue of subject specific knowledge and skills in 2019, we might have dared to be optimistic. However, the news from the classroom was not good. Anecdotal evidence from those attending NATRE’s free monthly subject knowledge webinars during this academic year, was that little or no attention was being paid to subject knowledge in their schools’ early career offering. Worse still, many of the ECTs were the only subject specialist on their staff team, so there was no one properly qualified to support this aspect of the early career programme.

Earlier this month, the government’s education select committee announced an inquiry into the recruitment, training and retention of teachers so the flash survey was launched. Open for just a week to hit last Friday’s submission deadline, we still attracted 60 responses. These are set out below. As you can see, almost 2/3rds of our respondents reported that, in relation to teacher standard 3: Develop good curriculum and subject knowledge, their rating of the ECT programme was either poor (37%) or very poor (28%). Only one in ten thought the programme was good in this respect. Obviously, this is a small sample, but NATRE will ask this question again as part of the secondary survey which will begin in a few weeks’ time.

So, we have told the government that there is a job to do here and that NATRE’s ECT membership, including its subject knowledge webinars, which are open to all, is playing its part. However, this is an issue that needs urgent attention, not only because it affects teacher confidence and consequentially retention, but even more importantly, standards of religious education for pupils.

NEW2RE - ECT, Early career teacher survey NATRE

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