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Beginner Teachers' Experiences of Initial Teacher Preparation, Induction and Early Professional Development: A review of literature

Beginner Teachers’ Experiences
of Initial Teacher Preparation,
Induction and Early Professional
A review of literature
Research Report DCSF-RW076
Pat Ashby
, Andrew J. Hobson
, Louise Tracey
Angi Malderez
, Peter D. Tomlinson
, Tom Roper
Gary N. Chambers
& Jane Healy
School of Education, University of Nottingham
School of Education, University of Leeds
Research Report No
Beginner Teachers’ Experiences of
Initial Teacher Preparation, Induction
and Early Professional Development:
A review of literature
Pat Ashby
, Andrew J. Hobson
, Louise Tracey
, Angi Malderez
Peter D. Tomlinson
, Tom Roper
, Gary N. Chambers
& Jane Healy
School of Education, University of Nottingham
School of Education, University of Leeds
Views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of the Department for Children, Schools and
Families or any other Government department.
© University of Nottingham 2008
ISBN 978 1 84775 296 3
i. Acknowledgements............................................................................................. iii
ii. Abbreviations......................................................................................................
iii. A preliminary note about terminology..................................................................
Introduction ..............................................................................................................
Chapter 1: Recruitment to ITP: motivation and opportunity........................................
1.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................
1.2 Motivation to enter ITP: ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors.................................................
1.3 Recruitment issues related to gender ................................................................
1.4 Recruitment issues related to age......................................................................
1.5 Recruitment issues related to ethnicity ..............................................................
1.6 Recruitment issues related to subject................................................................
1.7 Patterns of recruitment into ITP .........................................................................
1.8 Attempts to boost recruitment to ITP................................................................
1.9 Conclusion .......................................................................................................
Chapter 2: Student teachers’ preconceptions, expectations and needs...................
2.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
2.2 The importance of what student teachers ‘bring’ to ITP...................................
2.3 Student teachers’ preconceptions and expectations of teaching and ITP .......
2.4 Student teachers’ individual identities..............................................................
2.5 Student teachers’ individual needs ..................................................................
2.6 Conclusions......................................................................................................
Chapter 3: Student teachers’ experiences of Initial Teacher Preparation.................
3.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
3.2 Links between HEI-based training routes and student teachers’ experiences
and outcomes.........................................................................................................
3.3 The experiences of trainees following employment-based routes...................
3.4 Student teachers’ accounts of ‘theory’ versus ‘practice’ ..................................
3.5 The role of reflection in initial teacher preparation...........................................
3.6 Student teachers’ concerns..............................................................................
3.7 Student teachers’ experiences of school-based mentoring .............................
3.8 The role and impact of trainees’ emotions in ITP.............................................
3.9 The importance of relationships during ITP .....................................................
3.10 Conclusions....................................................................................................
Chapter 4: Recruitment to the first teaching post......................................................
4.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
4.2 Regional disparities in teacher recruitment......................................................
4.3 Student teachers and the appointment process...............................................
4.4 School approaches to engaging NQTs............................................................
4.5 Conclusions......................................................................................................
Chapter 5: New teachers’ experiences during the induction year.............................
5.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
5.2 The transition from student teacher to NQT.....................................................
5.3 Some models of Induction................................................................................
5.4 Statutory Induction Requirements for NQTs in England and Wales................
5.5 The role of the Induction Tutor......................................................................... 43
5.6 The impact of induction arrangements on NQTs’ experiences........................
5.7 Positive and negative experiences during the first year’s teaching..................
5.8 Conclusions......................................................................................................
Chapter 6: Experiences of teaching and early professional development during the
post-induction years………………………………………………………………..........
6.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
6.2 The post-induction experiences of beginning teachers....................................
6.3 Early Professional Development......................................................................
6.4 Moving beyond the early years of teaching: issues and challenges................
6.5 Conclusions......................................................................................................
Chapter 7: Issues relating to the retention of trainee teachers .................................
7.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
7.2 Attrition from ITP..............................................................................................
7.3 Differential factors in withdrawal from ITP: are there specific ‘at risk’ groups?.
7.4 Supporting trainees at risk of withdrawal .........................................................
7.5 The take-up of NQT posts from ITP.................................................................
7.6 Conclusions......................................................................................................
Chapter 8: Issues relating to the retention of beginning teachers.............................
8.1 Introduction ......................................................................................................
8.2 Issues related to beginning teacher attrition ....................................................
8.3 Factors promoting beginning teacher retention................................................
8.4 Conclusions......................................................................................................
Chapter 9: General themes and conclusions……………………………………….......
Appendix I - Critical Summary Template………………………………………….. ……
Appendix II - Becoming a Teacher Research Findings (publications available to date)
i. Acknowledgements
This review of literature was carried out as part of the Becoming a Teacher (BaT)
research project (2003-2009). The BaT project was funded by the Department for
Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the General Teaching Council for England
(GTCE) and the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), and conducted by
the University of Nottingham, the University of Leeds and Ipsos MORI Social Research
We, the authors, would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions to the BaT
research of all other past and present members of the research team, including Marina
Giannakaki, Nick Mitchell and Kirstin Kerr, who each reviewed a small number of studies
cited in this report. We are also grateful to all colleagues who have served on the project
steering group (including the respective DCSF project managers Gillian Redfearn, James
Rushbrook and Sarah Baker), and to our critical friend, Christopher Day, for their helpful
comments on earlier and draft versions of the report.
ii. Abbreviations
ATL - Association of Teachers and Lecturers
BA/BSc - Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
BaT - Becoming a Teacher (research project)
BEd - Bachelor of Education
BEI - British Education Index
CEP - Career Entry Profile
CEDP - Career Entry Development Profile
CPD - Continuing Professional Development
DCSF - Department for Children, Schools and Families
DENI - Department of Education, Northern Ireland
DfE - Department for Education
DfEE - Department for Education and Employment
DfES - Department for Education and Skills
DRB - Designated Recommending Body
D&T - Design and Technology
EAL - English as an Additional Language
EPD - Early Professional Development
ERIC - Education Resources Information Centre
FE - Further Education
GCSE - General Certificate of Secondary Education
GTC - General Teaching Council
GTCE - General Teaching Council for England
GRTP - Graduate and Registered Teacher Programmes
GTP - Graduate Teacher Programme
HEI - Higher Education Institute
ICT - Information and Communications Technology
ITE - Initial Teacher Education
ITP - Initial Teacher Preparation
ITT - Initial Teacher Training
MFL - Modern Foreign Languages
ML - Modern Languages
MORI - Market and Opinion Research International
NQT - Newly Qualified Teacher
Ofsted - Office for Standards and Teaching in Education
QTS - Qualified Teacher Status
PGCE - Postgraduate Certificate in Education
RSM - Recruitment Strategy Manager
RTP - Registered Training Programme
SARA - Scholarly Articles Research Alerting
SCITT - School-Centred Initial Teacher Training
SEN - Special Educational Needs
SMT - Senior Management Team
SSSS - Secondary Shortage Subject Scheme
STRB - School Teachers’ Review Body
TDA - Training and Development Agency for Schools
TTA - Teacher Training Agency.
iii. A preliminary note about terminology
While the full title of the Becoming a Teacher research project (‘Becoming a Teacher: the
nature and impact of teachers’ experiences of initial teacher training, induction and early
professional development’), commissioned by the DCSF, the GTCE and the TDA,
includes the term ‘initial teacher training’ (ITT), and while ‘initial teacher training’ is the
phrase currently in official use in England to refer to the process through which would-be
teachers seek to gain a formal qualification to teach, we prefer to use the term initial
teacher preparation (ITP). ‘Training’ is sometimes associated with a view of teaching as
‘performing a set of mechanical tasks’ (Stephens et al., 2004), to the exclusion of
‘understanding and intelligent awareness’ (Tomlinson, 1995: 11; Cameron and Baker,
2004: 13), with the result that there have been objections to its use. Some writers thus
prefer the term ‘initial teacher education’ (ITE). However, to some extent there is also
baggage associated with this term, in that some ‘teacher educators’ associate the term
‘education’ more with the learning of declarative knowledge (also known as descriptive or
propositional knowledge - ‘knowing that’) than with the acquisition of procedural
knowledge (knowledge exercised in the performance of a task – ‘knowing how’).
Although use of the terms ‘training’ and ‘education’ need not have the kind of
connotations referred to above, our choice of the term ‘initial teacher preparation’ reflects
an attempt to remain neutral as well as accurate. Whilst some literature refers to the
same pre-qualification period as ‘pre-service’ training (or education), this is inaccurate in
a context where some student teachers are effectively already ‘serving’ on employment-
based routes into the teaching profession.
The reasons that motivate our choice of the term ITP also lead us to prefer the more
neutral, if more clumsy, term ‘teacher of teachers’ to the terms ‘teacher educator’ and
‘teacher trainer’. We also use the terms ‘student teacher’, ‘trainee’ and ‘trainee teacher’
interchangeably for individuals following different kinds of ITP programme, although
literature relating to those following undergraduate routes into the profession often refers
to these as ‘students’, reflecting the relative emphasis on their academic studies.
It is also important to note here that in some of the literature the terms ‘beginning
teacher’, ‘beginner teacher’ and ‘new teacher’ are used synonymously with Newly
Qualified Teacher (NQT) (i.e. a teacher entering their first year of teaching after
undertaking a programme of ITP), whilst elsewhere these terms are used more broadly,
sometimes to include the ITP phase and sometimes to refer to the early stages of a
teacher’s career beyond the first year. In using the term ‘beginning teacher’ in this review
of literature, we do not include those in the ITP phase, but do include those who are in
the first five years of their teaching careers. The terms ‘recently qualified teacher’ and
‘early professional development’ (EPD) apply to those ‘beginning teachers’ between their
second and fifth years in post. We use ‘new teacher’ synonymously with newly qualified
teacher (NQT).
Finally, we feel it important to state that whilst the term ‘feedback’ is often used by writers
as if unproblematic, there does in fact appear to be considerable variation in such usage,
both in the particular meaning intended and the degree to which this is explicitly
indicated. In teacher education and development, it nowadays encompasses a wide
range of possibilities, from observer-delivered judgements (about the teaching they have
observed) to more collaborative and open discussions. One might, moreover, have
reservations concerning the potentially restrictive implications of the kind of narrower
interpretations that may be conveyed by reference to ‘giving’ or ‘accepting’ feedback, for
example that they might imply an external focus on the beginning teacher’s performance,
to the exclusion of the thinking, planning and pedagogy that might be informing their
action. However, whilst we therefore feel that this area is in need of careful exploration,
such exploration is not within the scope of the present review, where we have on the
whole simply adopted the terminology of feedback where it forms part of the findings of
studies judged more generally to merit inclusion.
The Becoming a Teacher Project
The Becoming a Teacher (BaT) study is a six-year (2003-2009) longitudinal research project
that examines teachers’ experiences during their initial teacher preparation (ITP) and (for
those who remain in the profession) their first four years in post. It has tracked those
teachers who entered the profession via a range of different routes (including university-
administered undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, employment-based and school-
based programmes), over a period of five academic years. The main aims of the research
are to:
explore teachers’ experiences of ITP and their first four years of teaching, including
their experiences of induction
and early professional development (EPD);
explore any variation in such experiences relating to the ITP route that trainees /
teachers followed;
explore possible relationships between trainees’ preconceptions and expectations of
teaching and ITP, and their actual experiences of ITP, induction, teaching and EPD
during the first four years;
explore possible relationships between trainees’ experiences of ITP and their
subsequent experiences of teaching, induction and EPD;
identify factors contributing to attrition from ITP programmes;
identify reasons for the non-take up of teaching posts on completion of ITP; and
identify factors contributing to teachers’ decisions to leave the profession within four
years of completing their ITP.
Our review of the existing research literature, which is reported in the chapters that follow,
has served to facilitate these aims by:
sensitising thinking about issues which are pertinent to the research;
detailing issues which inform the development of research instruments and methods
of data analysis; and
providing the broader context within which findings from the empirical strand of the
BaT study may be situated.
In accordance with these aims (and especially that of providing a broader context) a wide
range of studies drawn from the international evidence base on teacher preparation and
early professional experience has been consulted. However, the focus of this review is
England, and it should be noted that any statistics cited in the following chapters refer
specifically to England unless otherwise stated.
The genesis and methodology of this literature review
Work on this review of literature began in 2003. It was initially developed around sources with
which some of the report’s authors were already familiar, and which they had discussed
elsewhere (e.g. Tomlinson, 1995, 1999a, 1999b; Malderez and Bodoczky, 1999; Hobson,
2001, 2002, 2003; Chambers and Roper, 2002). This original material has since been
supplemented with the results of a more detailed and systematic review of literature involving
a four-stage process, namely:
The term ‘induction’ is used by many to refer, in broad terms, to the various processes, in different contexts, by
which newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are ‘inducted’ into the teaching profession, and is normally associated with
the first year of teaching subsequent to undertaking a programme of initial teacher preparation. In England, the
present arrangements for the induction of NQTs were set out in the Teaching and Higher Education Act (1998).
They are discussed in Chapter 5 of this report.
(1) detailed searches of electronic databases
, SARA (Scholarly Articles Research
Alerting) journal alerts (now Informaworld), and hand searches of material located in
the University of Nottingham’s Djanogly Learning Resource Centre for articles,
books and conferences papers potentially relevant to the aims of the study;
(2) the retrieval of potentially relevant material from the searches identified in Stage (1)
above, together with other literature recommended by Steering Group colleagues
and the project consultant / critical friend;
(3) the scanning of retrieved material to determine the extent to which it contained
relevant information; and
(4) the production of a full critical summary for those articles, books and papers which
were deemed to be most highly relevant to the project aims.
To date, 108 critical summaries have been produced and information contained in these has
been reported, alongside the original material referred to above, in Chapters 1-8 below. In
addition, we also make reference in this review to a wider range of literature which was not
subjected to the critical summary process, either because its relevance to the project was
more limited or (in some cases) because a small amount of highly relevant material was
embedded within a wider discourse on a different topic.
We would note that whilst there is a limited (though growing) amount of literature available on
teachers’ experience of induction and early professional development, and very little to date
on the process of new teacher recruitment, the literature on ITP is extensive. In what follows,
we focus largely (though not exclusively) on research which has been carried out in England
and other parts of the UK (since these are most relevant to the context within which the BaT
study is being conducted), and which has been carried out since 1992, which we take as the
key watershed in relation to the introduction of the present school-based arrangements for
ITP (Department for Education, 1992). That said, we make a number of exceptions to this
general rule.
Firstly, although our main focus throughout has been domestic, we have not restricted our
search criteria to the British Isles. In addition to supplementing the (sometimes meagre) UK-
based research on specific themes, some studies conducted outside the UK may have a
particular value in highlighting the potential universality of certain aspects of trainee and
beginning teachers’ experience, or revealing in sharp relief the rather different nature of such
experience in the context of a differing national approach to ITP.
Secondly, we have included a small number of references to pre-1992 research which we
regard as both seminal and highly relevant to the present day, for example Huberman’s
classic study on the lives of teachers, originally published in French in 1989 (Huberman,
In addition, whilst our principal focus has been on the findings of empirical research and
evaluation, we have also made occasional use of, for example, Ofsted (Office for Standards
and Teaching in Education)
reports of inspection, where (in our view) these throw additional
light on areas where other more empirically-based literature has to date been somewhat
Finally, we have also augmented our own systematic searches as reported above by drawing
on other systematic reviews of the literature.
The electronic databases searched include the British Education Index (BEI), the Education Resources
Information Centre (ERIC), Athens (an access management system) and the ZETOC electronic table of contents.
The critical summary template used is attached as an Appendix I. The reference sections and bibliographies of
retrieved literature were also examined and additional potentially relevant material from these was retrieved
(Stage 2), scanned (Stage 3) and, where appropriate, made the subject of its own critical summary (Stage 4).
Ofsted is the body charged with inspecting schools and ITP provision in England.
Save for some brief references in the Conclusion to this report, we do not discuss emergent
findings from the empirical strand of the Becoming a Teacher study, partly because this
would not comply with the aims of the literature review strand of the study (as stated above),
partly because it would greatly add to the length of this report (given that all empirical BaT
findings would, by definition, be highly relevant to the review), and partly because these are
reported elsewhere (see Appendix II for publications available at the time of writing).
Rationale for the chronological presentation of our findings
Since this literature review was initially conceived specifically to inform and support the
Becoming a Teacher project, it seemed natural that it should take a chronological rather than
thematic approach, first (in order to inform research instrument development) preceding, and
subsequently accompanying the year-on-year progression of participants. As their status
changed from hopeful new recruits through initial teacher preparation to established but still
developing practitioners, so this review changed too, encompassing successive phases of
the project but also incorporating as it grew new publications judged to be highly relevant to
stages already passed. In common with the empirical strand of the BaT research, the
principal focus of this report does not extend beyond beginner teachers’ fourth year of
teaching, though some of the literature it draws upon does so.
Another feature of the year-on-year development of the embryo review is that (in spite of
later revisions and additions) the early chapters still exhibit a higher incidence of references
to (relatively) earlier sources. Since the time-span of the BaT project covers the years 2003-
2009, much of the literature cited may well be more pertinent to the experience of our
research participants when they first entered ITP than it is to those setting out on the journey
of becoming a teacher in the present day.
Organisation of contents
As noted above, this review of literature is organised into eight main chapters. In Chapter 1
we discuss patterns of recruitment to ITP, and explore the motivation of student teachers,
recruitment issues relating to gender, age, ethnicity and subject specialism, and recent
attempts to boost recruitment. Chapter 2 considers the preconceptions and expectations that
student teachers bring to ITP, and the potential impact on their experiences and
development of their differing circumstances and needs. Chapter 3 then examines the
experience of ITP from a range of differing perspectives, including variation in training route,
course content and organisation, and the impact of affective issues.
Chapter 4 moves on to address briefly some issues attendant on recruitment into the first
teaching post, as a prologue to Chapter 5’s consideration of new teachers’ experiences
during their first year of teaching, commonly referred to in the UK as ‘the induction year’.
This is then followed in Chapter 6 by a discussion of factors impacting on recently qualified
teachers during their second and subsequent years’ teaching, and especially of issues
relating to provision for their early professional development.
The following two chapters draw together findings on the loss to the profession of potential
teachers during and on completion of ITP (Chapter 7), and of others who had gained
qualified teacher status, during their early years of teaching (Chapter 8). In these two
chapters we also discuss some factors identified as tending to promote the retention of
trainee and beginning teachers.
Finally, in the Conclusions chapter we draw together some of the central themes that cut
across the issues discussed in Chapters 1-8.
The induction period may, in fact, take more or less than a year, depending on the NQT’s employment situation
and progress.
Chapter 1: Recruitment to ITP: motivation and opportunity
1.1 Introduction
Recruitment into initial teacher preparation (ITP) in England and Wales has grown in recent
years from 29,510 student teachers in 2000-2001 to a peak of 41,980 in 2004-2005 (DfES,
2006), since when it has decreased slightly in line with a reduction in government targets.
The PGCE remains the most popular ITP route: recruitment figures for 2007-2008 (DCSF,
2008) show that 31,300 new entrants were expected to commence postgraduate ITP
courses across England, Scotland and Wales (including school-centred PGCEs). In addition,
though, much of the growth in ITP numbers has occurred in what are termed the ‘non-
traditional’ routes into teaching, in particular in employment- based routes (predominantly the
GTP), where numbers rose from 1,790 trainees in 2000-2001 to an expected 7,168 in 2006-
2007 (DfES, 2006; TDA, 2006a). Inconsistencies over time in how the figures have been
presented have tended to make year-on-year comparisons difficult, and at the time of writing
there has been no recent central audit of applications for employment based ITT, making it
difficult to give a clear overall picture. However, it was announced in 2008 that the numbers
of trainees recruited to all ITT courses commencing in 2008-09 were being collected by the
TDA and would be published in 2009.
This chapter will consider who the entrants to the profession are and why they enter ITP. It
will then discuss research into recent attempts to boost recruitment.
1.2 Motivation to enter ITP: ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors
Since motivation is an important factor in both the recruitment of student teachers and their
subsequent retention, the decision to undertake ITP has become a key area of research.
There is general agreement that perceived intrinsic rewards (such as working with children,
intellectual fulfilment and contributing to society) play an important part in attracting new
recruits to the profession. This is confirmed by general surveys of undergraduate students
(Coulthard and Kyriacou, 2002) and of beginning teachers (Barmby and Coe 2004), surveys
by phase of teaching (Reid and Cauldwell, 1997; Bridge, 1999), those based on gender
(Johnson et al., 1999), and those based on ethnicity (Carrington and Tomlin, 2000; Basit et
al., 2006). For some recruits their own memories of school can prove a powerful motivator: in
particular, the influence of individual ‘role model’ teachers can prove especially potent
(Priyadarshini and Robinson-Pant, 2003; Younger et al. 2004).
In the US, the work of Nieto (2003) on 'what keeps teachers going' seems to suggest that
altruistic or intrinsic motives on entering the profession continue to function as important
factors in ensuring long-term retention, as do the belief that teaching is an intellectual
endeavour, and a sense of belonging to communities of learning. Indeed, it has been argued
that more could be done to harness and support altruism as a motive: in her book examining
teacher shortage in schools in challenging circumstances, Bush (2005) comments that since
some teachers appear motivated from the outset to work with disadvantaged pupils, one
approach to the problem of choice and equity in teacher supply is to differentiate teachers
according to their motivations and priorities. In support of this proposal she cites Howson’s
submission to the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee (2004), in which he
argues that for teachers in schools with significant social problems to be successful, they
need to be there willingly:
“You need to identify, right from the word go, people who are actually socially
responsible and wish to take on the challenge of working in those sort of schools, and
give them the training and the support to enable them to be successful with those sort
of children” (House of Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2004; cited in
Bush, 2005: 36).
Coulthard and Kyriacou (2002) found that where undergraduates decided not to go into
teaching, they still recognised that the profession offered altruistic and caring roles, but
generally did not consider this to be of primary importance in their career choice. Since, as
they perceived it, their needs for enjoyment, a manageable workload, and adequate
resources would not be met, teaching was for them an unattractive proposition. Edmonds et
al. (2002) also noted that (at the time of writing) “the aspects of teaching that appear to deter
young people from considering it as a career are low pay, paperwork and dealing with
disruptive pupils” (p.ii). Issues related to pupil behaviour and workload/marking were also
cited (unprompted) by almost a quarter of beginning teacher respondents to Barmby and
Coe’s (2004) survey as the factors most likely to have dissuaded them from entering the
profession; these were followed in third and fourth place by financial considerations such as
salary and the cost of training.
Studies also indicate that attitudes towards the teaching profession are broadly similar
across those who choose to undertake ITP and those who choose other careers. What
differs, however, is how attractive the two groups rate teaching as a career (Coulthard and
Kyriacou, 2002). This is reflected in attitudes towards the status of teaching which has
generally been found to be low in England (although not in Northern Ireland or Scotland). For
example, according to Bridge (1999), although 87 per cent of students themselves were
proud to be joining the profession, many took an uncertain or negative view of the status of
teachers as a respected professional group within society. However, Carrington and Tomlin
(2000) have demonstrated that, despite concerns about teachers’ pay and conditions of work
and levels of morale within the profession, the majority of trainees in their study of recruits
from minority ethnic backgrounds had a positive view of teaching.
In their study of the early career decisions of two cohorts of UK graduates who chose to train
as teachers, Purcell et al. (2005) identified a range of motivations but also comment that
frequently these appeared to be interrelated:
“For many, teaching was a long-held ambition and a vocation; many were motivated
by altruistic reasons or by intrinsic aspects of the job - particularly working with
children. Extrinsic aspects of teaching such as family-friendly work patterns, flexibility
and holidays were also mentioned as attractions of the job, as was the opportunity to
enter a secure and respected profession. For many, a combination of factors was
important; for example, family-friendly work patterns and the intrinsic nature of the
occupation” (p.2).
Coulthard and Kyriacou (2002) describe those who wish to enter teaching as a very distinct
group, with a ‘teacher personality’ which they suggest is irrespective of gender and age.
Similarly, Smethem (2007) comments that over half of the beginning teachers in her small-
scale survey articulated the concept of “always wanting to teach” (p.470). However, there is
evidence that people with different characteristics do have different reasons for entering
initial teacher preparation and are influenced by different factors (Edmonds et al. 2002). It
should also be remembered that not all who enter teaching do so for positive reasons:
Powney et al. (2003) found that few participants in their study appeared to hold a developed
concept of a career, and noted that some had drifted into teaching because of a lack of
suitable alternatives, or to escape “less palatable jobs” (p.29), similar perhaps to those
described by Huberman (1989) as “ ‘tourists’ - mostly men who had entered the profession
accidentally, just to have a look” (p.44).
1.3 Recruitment issues related to gender
The majority of those recruited to ITP in England and Wales are female. Of those completing
postgraduate courses (including SCITT) in 2005, 5,970 were men and 15,220 were women
(DfES, 2006). Whether the increased number of routes will reinforce or redress this gender
imbalance remains to be seen, with no conclusive evidence to date of an appreciable shift.
Although Coulthard and Kyriacou’s identification of a ‘teacher personality’ suggests that the
perception of teaching does not differ between male and female entrants to the profession,
research by Johnson et al. (1999) identified some gender-related differences in the
perceptions of the primary trainees studied. Participants of both sexes saw teaching as an
occupation that required a high level of communication skills, had great potential for job
satisfaction and was highly suited to women; however, the women trainees appeared to be
more motivated by the perceived intrinsic aspects of primary teaching than the men, who
placed a greater emphasis on perceived extrinsic aspects. Similarly, Barmby (2006) found
that female beginning teachers were significantly more likely than males to value good
relationships with colleagues and the ability to combine teaching with parenthood. These
findings suggest one possible reason for the imbalance between males and females within
the profession.
There are, however, other possible disincentives for males. As suggested above, teaching is
a predominantly female profession, particularly in the primary sector (cf. Foster and
Newman, 2003). This is reinforced by the perception of primary teaching as an extension of
the mothering role (Johnson et al. 1999; Thornton, 1999; Edmonds et al. 2002), and so less
in keeping with stereotypical views of ‘masculinity’. As Johnson et al. (1999) comment:
“There is an indication that the traditional link between masculinity and the greater
degree of intellectual control and access to power it allows persists and may be
another underlying part of the explanation as to why it is that the population of
primary teacher trainees is increasingly female” (p.63).
Male primary trainees may also be discouraged by negative perceptions of men working with
young children and the perceived ‘oddness’ of their career choice (Johnson et al. 1999;
Thornton, 1999).
However, research has also identified some positive motives reported by men who choose to
go into teaching, and primary teaching in particular. Johnson indicates that the male primary
trainees in his study thought it important that men teach in primary schools and valued the
contribution they can make, while Lewis (2002) identifies the generalist nature of primary
teaching as a reason why some men choose this phase, although he also suggests that the
decision to not teach at the secondary level was influenced by issues surrounding behaviour
and discipline.
Recently the research by Purcell et al. (2005) on the early career decisions of recent
graduates has identified some correlations between gender, subject and the decision to
study for a PGCE. These will be discussed in section 1.6 below.
1.4 Recruitment issues related to age
The age range of those entering teaching has widened: in 2006 it was reported that nearly a
third of people entering ITT were over 30 years of age (TDA, 2006a). While this may reflect
the increased number of routes into teaching (some of which have, in part, been aimed at
potential career changers), it may also result from successful attempts to extend the range of
individuals willing to consider teaching as a career, or from a combination of these and other
factors. Carrington et al. (2000), for example, indicated that the minority ethnic PGCE
recruits in their study had an older age profile than their white peers and were more likely to
be career changers.
Career changers in general often move into teaching in their mid-twenties to thirties, before
their increasing personal commitments become a deterrent, and they tend to cite as
motivation their perceptions of teaching as a mentally stimulating, diverse and challenging
job (MORI, 2001). However, for this group the contrast between teaching and their previous
careers does not always show teaching in a better light. Writing of career-changers in the
US, Johnson (2004) points out that their prior experience of other employment settings will
affect expectations of workplace facilities, resources, clerical support, teamwork and training,
while back in England, Priyadarshini and Robinson-Pant (2003) found that what was
perceived as the ‘rigid and inflexible’ nature of school management came as a shock to some
second careerists.
As Priyadarshini and Robinson-Pant acknowledge, the small sample on which their analysis
of personal narratives is based may not be representative of all career changers; however, it
does generate useful insights into the experiences of some. Among the different categories
of career changer identified is ‘the parent’: participants in this group said that teaching had a
more family-friendly image than other careers, and a career in teaching was seen as offering
stability and security, along with the opportunity to prioritise a stable family life. In addition,
having their own children gave some people the motivation and confidence to consider
teaching. However, for some mature entrants with family and other responsibilities, having an
ITP provider within easy reach may become a particularly important factor (Carrington and
Tomlin, 2000).
1.5 Recruitment issues related to ethnicity
While Powney et al. (2003) report that trainees from minority ethnic groups appear to have
broadly similar reasons for entering the profession to other recruits into teaching, another
study by Carrington and Tomlin (2000), as we have already noted, had found that on
average the students surveyed were older than their white peers and had often already
become established in other careers before entering the PGCE. The expectation that
teaching would combine well with raising a family was seen as particularly important for
minority ethnic families with a lone female at their head (Powney et al. 2003), and additional
factors cited by members of ethnic minorities joining the profession included the proximity of
the training institution, especially for mature entrants (as mentioned above), and a belief that
they had a particular contribution to make because of their understanding of minority ethnic
pupils (Carrington and Tomlin, 2000; Powney et al. 2003).
Yet, whilst the relatively low status of teachers, perceptions of the poor levels of pay and
stressful working conditions (factors which affect many other groups) appear to act as
deterrents to many potential applicants from ethnic minorities, anxieties about encountering
racism in schools were also identified as an additional factor by Carrington and Tomlin
(2000). It is particularly important to address such deterrents if this country is to avoid the
gradual development of what Whisnant et al. (2005) term the ‘cultural dichotomy’ existing in
the USA, where “the student population… is becoming increasingly multicultural” (p.22), yet
almost 90 per cent of teachers are white, monolingual and middle class, and recruitment into
the profession from non-white groups is in decline.
1.6 Recruitment issues related to subject
If the profile of those entering the profession has attracted attention, so have the subjects
they are choosing to teach. Research studies on subject-related issues have tended to focus
on shortage subjects,
and highlight the difference between these and other subject
specialisms, in relation to recruitment to the teaching profession more generally. The
literature review conducted by Edmonds et al. (2002) found that:
“Studies of mathematics undergraduates suggest that a similar proportion of them
would consider teaching for much the same reasons as given by undergraduates of
non-shortage areas. Findings from studies of physics undergraduates suggest that a
lower proportion of them are interested in teaching” (p.iii).
Shortage or ‘priority’ subjects include English (including drama), mathematics, science, information
communications technology, design & technology and modern foreign languages. From September 2006 this was
extended to include religious education and music.
However, the research conducted by Donnelly (2002) across five universities uncovered little
distinction in attitudes to teacher recruitment when considered by subject discipline (or,
indeed, by gender). When the attitudes of 1,202 science and mathematics undergraduates
were examined, respondents said they were deterred from teaching by perceived
characteristics of the job, such as workload, low salary, poor working conditions and poor
pupil behaviour. On this basis of this research, subject teacher shortages in physics and
mathematics appeared to be due to rather to the small number of undergraduates studying
these disciplines than to any other factor.
It has also been argued that a lack of specialist teaching in specific areas of compulsory
subjects (for example, the majority of science teachers are biology specialists) can impact on
the quality or character of their coverage, which could potentially perpetuate the problem of
teacher supply in those subjects (Smithers and Robinson, 2003). Adams (2002) examined
recruitment onto PGCE courses in MFL, and noted that it was affected both by the
demanding methodology of MFL teaching and the unwillingness of some to teach the full
ability range, especially since English children were perceived as unenthusiastic about
learning languages. In addition, there were sometimes problems in finding school
placements in MFL departments already under pressure. Essentially, as was suggested in
relation to science teaching above, the existing shortage of MFL subject specialists could
lead to a vicious circle by impacting on the quality of MFL teaching, and thereby reducing the
potential pool of recruits. Consequently, more than one in three of all MFL teachers are
Foreign Native Teachers, and this in itself may have long-term implications for retention.
Although Adams argues that in some respects MFL presents a different picture from other
subjects, her analysis of the situation does have implications for other shortage subjects,
such as D&T.
Attempts to boost recruitment to certain subjects include a ‘Golden Hello’ of £5,000 to eligible
postgraduates teaching mathematics or science, and of £2,500 to those teaching other
‘priority subjects’. However, whilst there is literature on the extent of such schemes, to date
there appears to be little evaluation of their long term impact (Morton, 2002).
In their study of education as a graduate career, Purcell et al. (2005) found that it was
graduates with languages, arts and humanities degrees who were most likely overall to have
studied for a PGCE. In addition, though, in some subject areas they identified an apparent
gender effect: of the participants in their survey, male natural science graduates were more
likely than men from other disciplines to have studied for a PGCE, whilst 19 per cent of
women mathematics and computing graduates had opted for a PGCE course compared with
only two per cent of men.
However, while on the whole recruitment to shortage subjects on traditional ITP routes
echoes that of teaching in general, there is evidence that recruitment to employment-based
routes may follow a different pattern. In the next sub-section we go on to discuss the impact
on recruitment of the increasing diversity of training routes, followed by an overview of
attempts to boost recruitment to ITP more generally.
1.7 Patterns of recruitment into ITP
In their study of the literature on teacher recruitment and retention in the USA, Guarino et al.
(2006) point out that “the labor market for teachers is nested within and continuously
influenced by a larger labor market that includes the markets for all other occupations
requiring roughly similar levels of education or skills” (p175). According to the market theory
of supply and demand as applied to education, the demand for teachers is the number of
posts available, and the supply the number of qualified individuals willing to teach at a given
level of compensation. By compensation what is meant here is not only financial
remuneration but also other factors that could be viewed as positive aspects of teaching,
such as working conditions or personal satisfaction. Supply is driven by the attractiveness of
teaching in terms of overall compensation compared to all the other activities available to
each individual. In addition to the “altruistic, intrinsic and children-orientated motivations”
already discussed (Barmby, 2006: 254), to an individual already interested in teaching the
ease or other advantage of a specific route into education might well prove an additional
attractant to the profession.
Whilst the PGCE remains the most popular ITP route, much of the growth in ITP numbers
has (as stated earlier) occurred in what are termed the ‘non-traditional’ routes into teaching,
and in particular in employment-based routes (predominantly the GTP), where numbers rose
from 1,790 trainees in 2000-2001 to an expected 7,168 in 2006-2007 (DfES, 2006; TDA,
In a small pilot study exploring the views of trainee teachers following contrasting university-
led PGCE and school-led GTP routes, Smith and McLay (2007) found that “the two routes
appeared to appeal to candidates from different backgrounds, with the GTP group being
more likely and the PGCE group far less likely to have had significant prior school
experience” (p.53), but that (perhaps more importantly for issues of recruitment) “the two
programmes appear to have much to offer to candidates with different life circumstances.
The GTP provides more regular financial support, while the level of pastoral care in a PGCE
programme might seem more attractive to those who are making a major career change”
Reporting on the first year of inspecting designated recommending bodies (DRBs) for the
GTP, Ofsted (2005) found that GTP candidates had been recruited from a range of
backgrounds: while some had entered training via access routes, others were already
academic high achievers. Ofsted judged the scheme to be making a particularly strong
contribution to recruitment in secondary shortage subjects and from some otherwise under-
represented groups, notably minority ethnic groups and men wishing to teach in primary
schools. In addition, recruitment efforts were often driven by regional teacher supply needs,
so that the DRB concerned worked closely with LA recruitment officers and community
groups. The following year, Ofsted (2006) noted that several DRBs had made good use of
taster courses and open evenings, again often in liaison with the local authority recruitment
A different approach to employment-based recruitment is reported in Hutchings et al.’s
(2006) evaluation of the Teach First programme, initially rolled out in London but with plans
for its subsequent extension to other cities. While employment-based routes into teaching
were initially designed for well-qualified, mature people who need to earn while they train and
are able to take on responsibility quickly, Teach First is intended explicitly for new graduates,
and its marketing is aimed overtly at high-fliers who would not otherwise have considered
becoming teachers (and with a focus on shortage subjects). It involves a two-year
commitment to teach in challenging schools, with QTS normally gained at the end of the first
year. Many Teach First recruits participating in the evaluation said they had previously held
negative views of teaching as ‘not very prestigious’ (p.22), or had considered and rejected
taking a PGCE because they perceived the course itself as potentially ‘boring’ or ‘frustrating’,
and lacking in challenge. Others had seen undertaking a teacher preparation course as
potentially limiting their future career options, while many were unwilling to continue their
studies for an extra year. By contrast, and in the words of one participant, the short time-
scale and limited commitment inherent in the Teach First approach, “ ‘just kind of opened
your options rather than closing them down’ ” (p.23), while the scheme’s energetic marketing
exploited recognised ‘pull’ factors such as the chance of personally making a difference to
children’s lives.
Although Hutchings et al.’s (2006) report is focused on Teach First it was explicitly
commissioned with the aim of enhancing practice in ITP as a whole, by assessing the
potential for transferring any innovations that proved successful into other entry routes.
Accordingly, the authors draw attention to broader questions such as whether the TDA and
providers currently place enough stress on transferable skills in their attempts to attract
recruits into teaching (or, indeed, in the training provided), and whether young teachers could
be effectively used as ambassadors for the profession.
The emphasis here on transferable skills could have relevance for some groups of potential
teachers who, other evidence suggests, may still experience difficulties in identifying a
progression route that is right for them. In their research on the impact of a range of equal
opportunities issues on teachers’ careers, Powney et al. (2003) identified “a perception that
support staff do not have systematic progression routes into teaching” (p.69), while some
respondents who had qualified overseas were critical of the preparation and support made
available to them. Although the same authors comment that the overall number of disabled
respondents (104) was too low for them to make meaningful generalisations, they do report
that ‘[M]ost respondents with disabilities reported experiencing difficulties both in entering
and in making progress in the profession’ (p.vii).
1.8 Attempts to boost recruitment to ITP
In addition to ‘Teach First’ and the local and regional initiatives reported above that aimed to
boost recruitment onto the GTP route (Ofsted, 2005; Ofsted, 2006), there have been a
number of attempts (both small- and large-scale in nature) to boost recruitment into the
profession more generally. The University of Liverpool School Placement Scheme
(McKernan and Taylor, 2002), required university students (volunteers from any discipline) to
visit a local school for ten half-day sessions to assist with classroom activities. As a result,
many of the participants reaffirmed their original intention to teach, and for several the
experiences kindled an interest in teaching. For a small number who had intended to teach,
the placement cast doubts on their plans, although as McKernan and Taylor (2002)
comment, this should not necessarily be seen as a negative result.
A small-scale mentoring project reported by Foster and Newman (2003) aimed at
encouraging more young men into primary school teaching, with male teachers acting as
mentors in a one week school placement. The conclusion indicated that:
“There is evidence that mentoring as a strategy made a significant contribution to the
career experiences of the mentees, widening their ‘horizons for action’ in terms of
career choice… [The] openness and the image of teaching presented by the mentors
was significant in dispelling the notion of primary teaching as solely ‘women’s work’…
Being mentored reinforced for the mentees that working with young children was
something that males could be good at, could invest in, could find enjoyable, and gain
satisfaction and reward from” (p.26).
The two schemes described above are significant because they aim to provide potential
teachers with a realistic view of teaching. As will be seen below, this may have significant
implications for retention.
Large scale initiatives have included major advertising campaigns (e.g. ‘Those who can,
teach’, ‘Use your head…’), increasing the number of routes into the profession (as described
in the Introduction) and a number of financial incentives, including a ‘training bursary’ for
those entering postgraduate programmes, and a Secondary Shortage Subject Scheme
In addition, the Repayment of Teachers’ Loans Scheme (2004), first introduced as
a pilot initiative in 2002, is available to NQTs employed to teach one or more of a range of
designated shortage subjects, and provides for the repayment of one-tenth of a recipient’s
student loans for each year of a ten-year period (or until the individual leaves teaching).
The SSSS was a means-tested hardship fund for eligible trainees in secondary subjects designated as having a
national shortage of teachers: design & technology; geography; information and communications technology;
mathematics; modern languages; music; religious education; and science. The scheme was discontinued in July
The evaluation of the Repayment of Teachers’ Loans Scheme by Barmby and Coe (2004)
includes a more general overview of recent financial incentives aimed at promoting teacher
recruitment and retention. While the authors find some evidence in the literature that training
bursaries do promote recruitment to ITP, the situation is complicated by the impact of student
debt: “With the transfer of the cost of higher education from the State to the individual, any
training course will have to compete both with a student’s desire to minimise their existing
levels of debt and their views of teaching as a career” (Howson, 2001; cited in Barmby and
Coe, 2004: 11). We shall return in Chapter 8 to the potential impact of student debt on
beginning teachers, and its implications for their retention in the profession.
In their survey of English, mathematics or science teachers participating in the Repayment of
Teachers’ Loans Scheme, Barmby and Coe invited respondents to rate the importance of
various financial incentives in attracting them into teaching. Of the 246 respondents, 84 per
cent rated teaching bursaries as ‘quite important’ or ‘very important’, compared with 49 per
cent for Golden Hellos and 38 per cent for the loans repayment scheme; 78 per cent stated
that the loans repayment initiative had had no influence on their decision to enter teaching.
However, the implications of this finding are modified by responses suggesting that many
were unaware of the scheme prior to entering ITP, a situation echoed in one study of the
‘Golden Hello’ initiative (Hopwood, 2004; cited in Barmby and Coe, 2004).
The long-term results of such strategies to promote recruitment still need to be addressed.
Edmonds et al. (2002) note that:
“The available evidence suggests that … [financial] incentives encourage some
people to apply for teaching, but that other factors (such as the location of the training
institution) are more influential for many” (p.iv).
While Kyriacou et al. (2003) speculate that the £6,000 training bursary for PGCE students
might encourage “students with less positive expectations of teaching as a career… to give
teaching a try” (p.260), Menter et al. (2002) have argued that “Each initiative tends to
produce an immediate upturn in recruitment but this has often been short-lived and has not
always produced applicants of the right quality” (p.3). This caveat is reinforced by Purcell et
al.’s (2005) comment that while their interviews demonstrated that the availability of training
salaries had enabled some highly motivated candidates to enter teaching, “we also found
some evidence to indicate that they had… attracted less suitable entrants” (p.3). A wider but
similar point is made by Guarino et al. (2006) who note, in their 2006 review of literature on
teacher recruitment and retention in the USA, that “the issue of teacher quality is integrally
related to the interplay of supply and demand” (p.176), but report finding few research
studies that consider issues of recruitment alongside teacher quality, partly, they suggest,
because the characteristics of the latter are both hard to define and difficult to identify.
1.9 Conclusion
Priyadarshini and Robinson-Pant (2003) argue that schools need to adjust to accommodate
career changers, and that policy makers should look more critically at why people are coming
into teaching, where they are coming from and whether and how institutions can adapt to
meet their needs and aspirations. In particular, there could be more recognition of both the
responsibilities (childcare in particular), and work-place experiences that career changers
bring. In addition, the widening range of training routes available to would-be teachers brings
with it a need for ITP institutions to counsel trainees in choosing the route most appropriate
to their personal circumstances (Basit et al. 2006). The research cited in this chapter (indeed
the vast majority of research in this area) provides an insight only into actual, not potential,
career changers. Research into the characteristics of the latter group would also be valuable
as a means of informing recruitment strategies.
One additional factor that emerges from several of the studies referred to in this chapter is
that the motivation, and in some cases the increasingly diverse prior experience, of entrants
to the profession may influence their preconceptions about teaching. These issues, and
others, will be addressed in the chapter that follows.
Chapter 2: Student teachers’ preconceptions, expectations and
2.1 Introduction
“When beginning teachers embark on training, they are no more empty vessels than
are children as they enter classrooms. It is now widely accepted that the personal
knowledge and beliefs they bring with them are both complex and influential” (Hagger
and McIntyre, 2006: 42).
For some time research has suggested that, like all learners, student teachers view and
interpret new information and experiences through their existing network of concepts,
experience and beliefs (e.g. Fosnot, 1996; Richardson, 1997). This chapter will consider
some of the arguments for taking trainees’ prior beliefs and circumstances into account, and
explore reports of student teachers’ preconceptions and expectations about both teaching
and initial teacher preparation.
2.2 The importance of what student teachers ‘bring’ to ITP
“It is becoming increasingly important to understand how teachers’ initial expectations
about teaching as a career impact on their decision to become teachers and to
remain in the profession” (Kyriacou et al. 2003: 262).
This is, indeed, a subject discussed widely in the literature. Feiman-Nemser et al. (1987), in
the United States, and Wubbels (1992) and Korthagen et al. (2001), in the Netherlands, have
shown that trainees’ preconceptions about teaching and student learning can impact on their
experience of ITP and their early professional development. In this country, Bramald et al.
(1991) found that some secondary phase trainees came to their courses with strong teacher
role identities, through which they interpreted the subsequent teaching and learning process.
Sugrue (1996), and more recently Raffo and Hall (2006), have suggested that trainees’ prior
beliefs can in some cases create barriers to their receptiveness to the different component
parts of ITP programmes, since “the complex and real interdependencies of personal
biography, identity, predispositions and the social and cultural dimensions of context create
particular paradigms of understanding” (Raffo and Hall, 2006: 60). Writing in the US, Haritos
(2004) argues that it is important to identify candidates’ teaching concerns and teacher role
beliefs before their entry into teacher education programmes, since these are likely to play a
key role in their professional development. She characterises such beliefs as ‘interpretative
lenses’ through which trainees will attempt to identify, understand and ultimately resolve their
teaching concerns, many of which may have ‘context-specific origins’ that relate to
candidates’ own former experiences as students. An understanding of trainees’ early
perceptions and beliefs may therefore enable teachers of teachers to offer them more
appropriate support and / or challenges, and so help them to learn and gain more from their
ITP programmes and be less likely to withdraw from ITP or (subsequently) from the
profession. Raffo and Hall (2006) suggest that trainees themselves should be encouraged “to
explore from the outset their own predispositions and forms of cultural capital and how and
why these appear to be afforded in certain contexts and not in others” (p64). Fosnot (1996),
on the other hand, argues that ITP programmes should begin by establishing trainees’
existing pedagogical beliefs and subsequently challenging these “through activity reflection
and discourse” (Fosnot, 1996: 206). It is important to recognise however, that the task of
modifying the beliefs and prior conceptions of learners in general and student teachers in
particular is an extremely difficult undertaking due to their entrenched nature (Zeichner and
Liston, 1987; Duit, 1996).
2.3 Student teachers’ preconceptions and expectations of teaching and ITP
A number of English studies have explored in some detail the expectations that trainees may
‘bring’ to their ITP. Pendry (1997), for instance, found that some student teachers come to
their training with pre-existing ideas about pupils as learners, about ways of learning and the
complexities of classrooms. Hobson (2002; 2003) found that the majority of trainees enrolled
on one-year secondary PGCE programmes expected to learn more from time spent in
schools and with school-based mentors, than from time spent in universities and with
university tutors. While this view may reflect one aspect of the theory / practice debate,
research also suggests that many trainees (especially those without friends or family in the
profession) may have based their conceptions of teaching and learning on their own
experiences as ‘consumers’ of education, either as pupils themselves or, for some older
trainees, as parents of school-age children. If for them the life and activities of the staff room
have so far taken place - literally - behind a closed door, it is hardly surprising that images of
the classroom dominate their early conceptions of teaching and may also impact on their
expectations of ITP. Indeed, Lortie (1975) suggested that young people’s long
‘apprenticeship of observation’ during their schooling may have a greater influence on them
than their subsequent formal preparation to be professional teachers.
In a small scale study of the motivation and preconceptions of PGCE trainees who had
recently started their courses, Younger et al. (2004) describe how participants recalled
inspirational teachers from their own schooling, with an emphasis on their effective
instructional strategies and positive, caring relationships with pupils which were based on
respect, factors which were also dominant in the trainees’ characterisation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’
teachers. The authors comment that while their interviewees had some understanding of
models of classroom practice, their grasp of its essential characteristics was relatively
unsophisticated at this early stage of their ITP. These student teachers expected their
university-based learning to focus on subject knowledge (around half of them were
concerned about their own deficiencies in this respect); they were often less certain of the
value of ‘theory’. Almost all placed great value on learning from observation, but many were
uncertain as to how exactly they would make use of what they had observed in their own
practice. Members of the group expressed general enthusiasm for ‘learning through
teaching’, but some expected to learn directly from engaging in the activity itself, while others
thought their learning would result rather from the subsequent analysis of their successes
and failures, and / or the supportive ‘feedback’
of experienced teachers.
Younger et al. (2004) conclude that the trainees studied were unable to understand the
interrelation between the various components of their course, or to translate knowledge of
their own skills and strengths (at this stage still related more to individual characteristics than
to teaching skills) into personal strategies for good classroom practice. These authors argue
that more priority should be given during ITP to helping trainees to understand both what
they need to learn in order to become effective teachers, and how that learning process will
take place.
Smith and McLay’s (2007) small-scale study investigating the views of GTP and PGCE
trainees suggests that the expectations of entrants to ITP may vary with the form of provision
chosen. When respondents were asked what prior expectations they had of the school-
based aspect of their training, the feature most commonly mentioned by respondents
considered as a whole was of ‘hands-on experience’ or ‘practical experience’. However,
when GTP respondents were considered separately the expectation identified by the highest
number (though not necessarily ranked first) was of ‘professional support’.
For further discussion on the use of this term see ‘A preliminary note on terminology’, p.3.
Other research has suggested that as well as trainees’ preconceptions about the form their
teacher preparation will take, it is important to consider their views on what they wish to
achieve, since their individual “values, preconceptions and concerns shape their
interpretations of everything they encounter and the criteria by which they judge their
success in every task they undertake” (Hagger and McIntyre, 2006: 42). Drawing on their
work with primary phase trainees, Edwards and Ogden (1998) found that many trainees
come into schools with ready-made identity projects they want to enact, being essentially
concerned with presenting an appearance of competent performance to pupils, mentors and
tutors. Edwards and Ogden maintain that it is important for teacher educators and mentors to
engage trainees in critical interrogation of their conceptions of what learning to teach
involves. Similarly, Haritos (2004) recommends the use at an early stage in ITP of exercises
that call on trainees to identify and explore their personal teacher role beliefs and concerns,
and explain the reasoning behind them.
This focus on trainees’ awareness of their personal characteristics and conceptions raises
the subject of individual identity, which we address more specifically in the sections that
follow, and to which we shall also have reason to return in subsequent chapters.
2.4 Student teachers’ individual identities
In addition to the different life histories which trainees bring to teaching (and which may
already have influenced their choice of ITP route), a number of authors draw attention to the
inherent variation not only in how student teachers learn but also, for example, in the
concerns they experience before and during ITP and the different ways in which they deal
with stress. This is part of a wider dialogue on the need to consider trainees as unique
individuals who will eventually become not ‘model teachers’ (for there is no one ideal
specification), but individual teachers with a range of characteristics. Younger et al. (2004)
stress the need for teacher educators to help trainees understand and cope with the
complexities of teaching, while at the same time forging a professional identity built on their
own personal experiences and skills. Hawkey (1995) argues that courses which focus
predominantly on teaching programmes, core tasks and activities prescribed for all, may pay
insufficient attention to the range of individual prior experience and different learning styles.
She argues that reflective practice is more likely to be promoted by approaches that
acknowledge the individual’s social or emotional context, and so offer opportunities to
integrate public with personal knowledge. As Vallance (1997) points out, there is no single
personality type that characterises a teacher: different students may learn differently and
relate best to different types of learning stimuli, and Vallance describes these typical learning
styles in some detail before discussing the differing needs of each type, for example within a
mentoring relationship. Such knowledge, he argues, may enhance awareness and promote
communication rather than confusion. However, essential for such considerations is the
meaningful sharing of personal experience, and many authors stress the need of student
teachers for “a language with which they can share their personal experience and learn from
others’ public experiences” (Tann, 1993; cited in Totterdell and Lambert, 1998: 364).
Some authors have argued that initial professional education needs to take more account of
the dominant emotional needs of students (McNally et al. 1994), and have chosen to focus
on the individual rather than the course, and especially on affective issues. These will be
addressed in more detail in the following chapter, in the context of the role and impact of the
emotions in ITP.
2.5 Student teachers’ individual needs
In addition to their prior conceptions, expectations and concerns about both teaching and
ITP, would-be teachers embarking on their ITP bring with them a range of individual needs,
depending on their personal circumstances. As the choice of ITP routes increases, and more
people for whom the ‘traditional’ routes were less suitable or convenient enter ITP, there is
an accompanying expansion in the range and diversity of individual needs. In some cases at
least, whether or not these needs are addressed satisfactorily by the training provider may
impact heavily on the trainee’s subsequent chances of success or failure. Whether the help
required by an individual is practical or intellectual, or a combination of both, it will need to be
taken into account from the very beginning of ITP, or even from the recruitment stage if
counselling on the choice of course is needed, as advocated by Basit et al. (2006).
While further research in this area would be useful, issues already identified in the existing
literature include the need for an understanding and even proactive approach to childcare
(especially important for trainees who are single parents) (Basit et al., 2006); a sympathetic
response to the differing circumstances of mature students (Coles, 2001); a willingness to
meet reasonably the special needs of disabled applicants (Powney et al., 2003); and an
awareness that candidates who have come to teaching via access routes - or, more
generally, those with lower grades (Basit et al. 2006) - may initially benefit from additional
and targeted learning support. A more specific recommendation was made by Ofsted (2006),
who noted that although the prior experience of some GTP trainees as non-teaching staff
was usually taken into account, their training needs relating to the change of role from
assistant to teacher were often neglected.
In a wider sense, too, the Ofsted inspection reports on the Graduate Teacher Programme
give an illuminating picture of the needs of trainees following an employment-based route.
The first inspection of the DRBs administering the GTP scheme (Ofsted, 2005) claimed that
only half of DRBs inspected had effective systems in place to identify prior experience and
learning, and thus establish a baseline for subsequent training; some had made no needs
assessment at all. In both inspections it was noted that the subject knowledge of candidates
for secondary teaching was often patchy, leading to their limited understanding of key
concepts and, subsequently, lower expectations of pupil learning. The issue of shortcomings
in subject knowledge has a much wider application: the limitations in specialist graduates’
knowledge of their subject as they would be required to teach it are touched on by Prentice
Given that the range of available ITP routes has steadily increased during the decade
between the early 1990s and the early years of the twenty first century (for example through
the introduction of SCITT in 1993 and the launch of Teach First in 2003), the concept of a
thorough initial assessment of individual needs, as recommended by Ofsted after both of
these inspections, becomes more relevant. Such an approach could be applied with benefit
to the whole spectrum of routes into teaching, though this would prove extremely costly in
terms of the time required.
2.6 Conclusions
Research suggests that a range of factors external to the actual content of ITP programmes
may help to determine how trainees interpret aspects of their training, how they cope with its
practical and intellectual demands, and how they develop their identities as teachers.
Student teachers are likely to engage with different ideas in different contexts depending on
the route followed, and their experiences prior to entering ITP will, to some extent, shape
their subsequent experiences. It is important for their initial expectations to be seen as part of
a continuum, and for research to explore “how such expectations change during the first
years of teaching, and the extent to which such expectations impact on the decision to
remain in the profession” (Kyriacou et al., 2003: 262).
While the initial concerns and teacher role beliefs that trainees bring with them to teacher
education have been variously addressed, to date (at least prior to the commencement of the
empirical strand of the Becoming a Teacher study) there appears to have been rather less
research (except in very general terms) on student teachers’ conceptions at the time their
ITP starts, of the form their chosen route will take, the different activities and learning
experiences in which they will participate, and how these different components may combine
to facilitate their effective learning of teaching skill. Such starting points are important: they
may ‘block’ or distort some elements of the ITP programme, or lead to disappointment or
dissatisfaction if other expected elements are not provided.
There is a need here for further research, and in particular for studies that span the threshold
between two identities: accepted candidate for ITP, and student teacher. The experiences of
student teachers themselves are considered in the next chapter.
Chapter 3: Student teachers’ experiences of Initial Teacher
3.1 Introduction
The experiences of those undertaking ITP take many forms, and may be discussed in
correspondingly different ways, all of which play some part in the change from hopeful
trainee to newly qualified teacher. This chapter considers the impact on participants of three
very different aspects of this process: the organisational, the conceptual, and the personal.
Few research studies in this country have sought to compare student teachers’ experiences
across different ITP routes, so we begin by offering a brief overview of some of the research
evidence in this area from both the UK and elsewhere. Next we examine some aspects of
how student teachers view their programmes: their perceptions of ‘theory’ and ‘practice’, and
their developing concerns. Finally we consider the impact of affective issues on individual
trainees’ experience, including their perspectives on school-based mentoring.
3.2 Links between HEI-based training routes and student teachers’ experiences
and outcomes
Where training pathway has been taken into account in research on student and beginning
teachers’ experiences, such studies have tended to be small scale, and often restricted to a
single provider; most of these have compared PGCE and undergraduate routes. For
example, a study by Cains and Brown (1996) found that, in their early teaching careers,
primary BEd students felt better prepared, more competent and less stressed than their
PGCE counterparts. While they also felt less well prepared to deal with record keeping, the
authors suggest that this may be because the longer and more detailed BEd training had
given them a greater awareness of what was involved. O’Hara and Cameron-Jones (1997)
report survey findings combined with an analysis of final grades received by graduating
PGCE and BEd primary students, and suggest that the two programmes produced teachers
with different strengths, with PGCE NQTs being relatively stronger on assessment and
subject content, and BEd NQTs on the classroom skills of communication and management.
In another (Scottish) study of the experiences of NQTs trained on BEd and PGCE routes,
Draper et al. (1991) found many similarities between the two cohorts. Both groups identified
class organisation and management as the outstanding problem that they faced initially, but
this was subsequently replaced by time management. Whilst PGCE-trained teachers were
slower to experience this transition, by the end of the second year’s teaching there were no
clear distinctions between the views of teachers from the two training routes in terms of the
areas causing problems.
A study by Fraser and Taylor (1999) of Scottish head teachers’ views on routes into primary
teaching throws an interesting sidelight on the situation in Scotland, where at the time of
writing a quota was applied at the intake point of training to ensure a balance on exit of 55
per cent BEd- to 45 per cent PCGE-trained teachers. The prevailing view of the head
teachers consulted was that teachers trained by these two routes were not distinguishable in
terms of quality, and that other factors such as personality and individual skills were more
significant. However, alongside this majority view was a contradictory one that BEd
graduates were better equipped to teach, with a third of the 280 participating head teachers
expressing a preference for teachers who had trained via the BEd route. The authors note
that all but one of these head teachers had themselves trained through BEd or similar
courses, and question the extent to which their perception was governed by objective
professional judgement. Although the ‘pro-BEd’ group consistently took a more sceptical
view of the competence of PGCE graduates, considerably fewer perceived the PGCE-trained
as needing specific additional support; in addition, the authors found nothing in the
probationer reports they studied to confirm the entrenched views of the minority group. They
concluded that at the time the study took place there was some evidence for an element of
‘like by like’ in the selection of new teachers, and that this could well blur any debate on how
best to train a primary teacher.
It is important to acknowledge that comparisons between the different ITP routes can be
problematic for a range of reasons, including the fact that the characteristics of trainees
taking different routes can vary in a number of different ways. In Draper et al.’s (1997) study
of Scottish BEd and PGCE-trained teachers, for example, the authors note a number of
gender differences, and discuss the possibility that these may help to determine the
characteristics of the BEd group, which is more predominantly female. Kuzmic (1994), on the
other hand, also considering the relative merits of PGCE and Scottish BEd students,
suggests that the greater maturity, range of life experiences and prior experience of
alternative employment among those following the BEd may mean that they are more able to
understand the dynamics of the organisation in which they work, and so are better prepared
to cope in a school. Different effects can also result from the range of selection procedures
employed by different providers within and across routes (Draper and Sharp, 1999).
Legitimate comparisons would need to take account of variations in ITP provision, across
providers, and within the same route. Comparisons are especially problematic in relation to
SCITT, GTP and RTP programmes, where trainees must have approved individualised
training plans.
Reviewing the research evidence in this area, Chan and Lai (2002) comment that many
contributions to the debate on undergraduate versus postgraduate teacher training
programmes consist of logical arguments based on the proponents’ personal views on the
intrinsic merits of the two forms of provision. They also warn against giving too much
credence to claims that relate the merit of either route to its ability to attract or retain
students: they point out that the number of places available will always be subject to the
influence of socio-economic factors, government policy and other external factors. Thus,
Chan and Lai (2002) conclude that the research findings studied offer no conclusive
evidence to support the phasing out or exclusive adoption of either (undergraduate or
postgraduate) route, and suggest instead that there is a valid place for both within overall
training provision. In particular, if the two routes appeal - and are more suited - to different
candidates, there could be a value in keeping both.
Chan and Lai’s (2002) reservations about the potential influence of subjective views in the
debate on teacher preparation are implicitly echoed by Boyd et al. (2006) in their comment
that “although policy debates about the relative value of teacher education and the benefits
of different pathways into teaching are replete with opinion, they are lean on data” (p156). In
contrast to the studies discussed above, most of which rely largely on the self-reported
experiences and/or views of participants, Boyd et al. (2006) describe an attempt to
investigate a range of pathways into teaching and assess how far they relate to a variety of
outcomes: “where teachers teach, how long they remain in the classroom, and student
achievement ... as measured by value-added analyses” (p155). Although their work is
grounded in New York City it has far wider relevance, especially since the authors freely
discuss the conceptualisation and overall design of the research and explore some of its
methodological challenges.
With the increasing availability of employment based-routes, research is also beginning to
consider the somewhat different circumstances encountered by the growing number of
trainees who have taken this path. These are addressed in the next section, before we move
on to examine some major themes that seem common to the experiences of would-be
teachers, whichever route they choose to follow.
3.3 The experiences of trainees following employment-based routes
Ofsted’s (2005) first report in its three-year programme of inspecting DRBs largely reflects its
primary purpose of supporting the assessment process leading to the accreditation of
individual DRBs as providers of ITP. However, in doing so it also provides an overview of the
training offered to participants in the GTP, and this is amplified and developed in the report
for the following year. Although by then Ofsted identified signs of improvements in practice
and partnership management, they still found that “while DRBs attracted good candidates
into teaching, the outcomes they achieved at the end of their training indicated that they did
not always fulfil their potential” (Ofsted, 2006: 1).
Ofsted identified a range of weaknesses in the scheme’s implementation, including a lack of
clarity in identifying and meeting trainees’ needs: although the number of detailed and
individual training plans had increased, most trainees still appeared to be working with
generic plans that focused on specific activities rather than on what they needed to learn.
Support for subject knowledge was perceived as inadequate, and too dependent on the self-
identification of needs; similarly, in the previous year, Ofsted reported that “audits for
secondary ICT trainees…concentrate on software applications and neglect ICT concepts and
processes” (Ofsted, 2005: 7). Moreover, some DRBs were said to be failing in their duty to
secure adequate training time for salaried trainees.
Of particular concern were signs of trainees using ‘survival techniques’ that could inhibit their
future development as teachers once the training period had ended: while GTP trainees
appeared to be generally more confident in their use of class- and behaviour management
strategies than were their PGCE counterparts, the GTP group were also found to
“demonstrate a narrower repertoire of teaching strategies which often did not extend beyond
the models that predominated in their main school. GTP trainees’ planning was also weaker”
(Ofsted, 2006: 3). Moreover, “in contrast to trainees following other ITP routes, few GTP
trainees read recent classroom research or educational publications. This hampered their
ability to evaluate their teaching and pupils’ learning. It also restricted the range of teaching
strategies they could call upon” (Ofsted, 2006: 14). Few took assessment into account when
planning lessons, or made effective use of a plenary session to evaluate learning.
Many of these comments are echoed in Dowrick’s (1997) paper comparing Articled
on a heavily school-based course with more traditionally-trained PGCE students.
Although the findings provided evidence that both groups did reflect on their teaching, the
reports of the Articled Teachers suggested that they were engaging in less constructive
reflection than the PGCE students. They made fewer forward-looking comments, gave
narrower answers to analytical questions about their teaching, and talked less about their
own learning. One reason that has been suggested for this is that the longer period spent
immersed in a school ethos has the effect of discouraging reflection. The author, however,
finds evidence for an alternative cause in contrasts within the students’ accounts of their own
learning and the help received from others. The Articled Teachers reported receiving mainly
organisational and emotional support: this leads to the conclusion that their mentors and
class teachers may have focused on supporting and managing their school experience at the
expense of educating them, whereas the PGCE students’ tutors and class teachers had
concentrated more on their educative and pastoral roles. In effect, he argues, these Articled
Teachers may not have been taught to reflect.
Dowrick (1997) argues that while this may have been a temporary effect associated with the
introduction of school-based courses, it will cease to be a problem only if it is recognised and
addressed by teacher educators. A similar caveat could be attached to the initial
The Articled Teacher Scheme was a two year postgraduate route into teaching in England, sometimes referred
to as an ‘enhanced PGCE’, which was introduced in 1989 and ran until 1994. The programme was organised and
co-ordinated through HEIs but its defining characteristic was that trainees spent 80 per cent of their programmes
in schools.
shortcomings of the GTP route. In 2005, GTP trainees were characterised by Ofsted as
highly motivated, hard-working and with strong professional values, notably their commitment
to inclusion and raising pupil achievement. But while almost all satisfactorily achieved the
Standards by the end of their training, only around half were found to have done so at a good
level, compared with around three-quarters of PGCE trainees. Similarly, while the
proportions of GTP trainees judged to be teaching ‘satisfactory’ or ‘good’ lessons were
similar to those trained on other ITP routes, fewer were said to have taught ‘very good’
lessons. This could have implications for their long-term success as teachers: “despite GTP
trainees’ high levels of commitment, not one of the trainees taught well when they had
received weak training” (Ofsted, 2006: 14).
One reason for this could be that the greater maturity of many GTP trainees compared with
their PGCE or BEd counterparts leads to an appearance of coping that has the effect of
reducing the support on offer. Most GTP participants in Smith and McLay’s (2007) small-
scale study of trainees’ experiences recalled starting out with high expectations of
‘professional support’, but almost a third identified a lack of support from their schools as a
negative factor in their training. Moreover, while some trainees were enthusiastically
appreciative of the university-led component of their training, among others “there was a
strong sense that the university should have provided more which was relevant to their
needs” (p.50). In some cases the dissatisfaction reported was with subject support, but a
more general concern appears to have been the level of preparation for classroom
management, as in one trainee’s complaint that “there has been some training on class
teaching but it appears to be working with model children. Nobody really seems to give the
answers to the important issue before we take the class” (p.50).
Whilst respondents to the Teach First evaluation (Hutchings et al., 2006) gave high praise to
the subject studies element of the preparatory Summer Institute
, some of their comments
on the ‘professional studies’ sessions sound remarkably similar to those of the GTP trainee
cited above:
[W]e do need to talk about issues, but sometimes we go into them far too much and
you don’t feel you ever achieve anything and we talk about differentiation quite a lot
and its kind of, well how do we differentiate? … How do I prepare a work sheet for
someone who doesn’t speak English? And there is that practical side which I felt is
lacking” (p.29).
Many repeatedly expressed the view that “it would have been better to have less of what
they refer to as ‘theory’, and more practical advice and information to enable them to survive”
(p.29). These two issues, the theory / practice dichotomy and concerns about survival, will be
addressed across the whole spectrum of entry routes into teaching in the sections that follow.
3.4 Student teachers’ accounts of ‘theory’ versus ‘practice’
Much of the literature discussing student teachers’ accounts of their experiences during ITP
has focused on their differential evaluations of various components within their training
programmes. Studies conducted before the statutory requirement for partnership working
between HEIs and schools was introduced, tended to suggest that trainees placed high value
on the practical and school-based components of their programmes while holding negative
attitudes towards higher education-based components, particularly the study of the academic
‘foundation disciplines’ of history, psychology and sociology of education (e.g. Williams,
1963; Taylor, 1969; Lomax, 1973; HMI, 1979). This dichotomy of views is not limited to
teacher preparation in the UK: in Switzerland for example Hascher et al. (2004) found that
many of the student teachers they studied differentiated between theory (considered as
The Summer Institute was a residential summer school, lasting six weeks, which Teach First participants
attended prior to being accepted as trainee teachers by the training provider.
‘useless knowledge’) and the learning experiences of their practicum, to an extent that could
be summed up by the title of their article, ‘Forget about theory, practice is all’.
In the TTA’s 2003 survey of NQTs, respondents were asked to consider the links between
the practical, school-experience parts of their training, and the more ‘theoretical’ (generally
HEI-based) components. Sixty-three per cent of the NQTs who responded rated the links
between these different components of their training as good or very good. To what extent
such ‘theoretical’ components of their training have informed these beginner teachers’
teaching is not clear; it is, however, important to recognise that some forms of experience
may impact upon teachers’ thoughts and actions without their conscious awareness of this,
via what is referred to as implicit learning (Claxton, 1997; Tomlinson, 1999a; Atkinson and
Claxton, 2000; Eraut, 2007).
Smagorinsky et al. (2003) offer an extensive exploration of the relationship between theory
and practice by proposing a construct based on Vygotsky’s (1978) notion of concepts, which
distinguishes between spontaneous concepts, learned through cultural practice and tied to
specific contexts, and scientific (or, in an alternative translation, academic) concepts, learned
through formal instruction, grounded in general principles and readily applicable to new
situations. According to this distinction, instruction in scientific concepts is sterile unless the
abstract knowledge taught is confirmed and given life by direct experience, through empirical
demonstration, observation or activity. It is the interplay between formal knowledge and
knowledge gained through activity that enables people to consider issues beyond their direct
This construct of concepts given life by experience suggests a scenario in which exposure to
theory is followed by some personal experience of the theory in action. However, the
possibility of an alternative sequence is implicit in a question posed in the course of
Hutchings et al.’s (2006) evaluation of the Teach First scheme: “at what point in teacher
training and professional development are trainees and teachers most receptive to
theoretical insights about, for example, the nature of teaching and learning? How could
teacher training courses best enable such ideas to have a maximum impact?” (p.87). This
question arises naturally from Hutchings et al.’s own findings that “while in the early stages,
the trainees see little value in ‘theory’ … at a later stage when they have had substantial
experience, many of them begin to look for and appreciate theoretical insights” (p.30). One
element contributing to this greater appetite for theory is the fading, to some extent at least,
of a very natural focus on the need to ‘survive’ in the classroom; another is the accumulation
of direct personal experience on which to reflect, and a corresponding need for some
external input into this reflection.
It has been suggested (Goodlad, 1990; Smagorinsky et al., 2003) that student teachers’
failure to see the relevance of theory is due in part to the ‘fragmentation’ resulting from the
conflicting perspectives inherent in most teacher education programmes. Trainees will take
as their starting point what Raffo and Hall describe as “their own predispositions and forms of
cultural capital” (2006: 64), which will then be reinforced, challenged or modified in the
course of their teacher preparation. However, since schools are unlikely to reinforce the
same concepts as were offered during ITP, the latter in turn will almost certainly “recede or
be reformulated” (Smagorinsky et al., 2003: 1410) in the new setting of the workplace.
Central to these authors’ argument is the idea that the development of concepts will also
involve growing into a culture’s values and practices. Smagorinsky et al. see practice as a
social activity, based in the everyday world and constrained by social norms. However, the
motives and goals of different “communities of practice” (p.1410) - universities, schools,
professional organisations - may vary and even be mutually exclusive, producing “a great
point of disjuncture” (p.1407) for student teachers. Moreover, if as unsupported NQTs these
former students come under pressure to conform to different norms in their new environment,
they may well find it hard to maintain their ‘ideological loyalty’ to concepts inculcated during
ITP. Raffo and Hall (2006), however, see these tensions as offering an opportunity for
teacher trainers to explore with their trainees “the productive interplay between the school as
a site of practice and the university where meaning and insights about that practice can be
developed” (p.65).
Since the introduction in England of partnership arrangements, research has reported a
wider range of attitudes towards the different components of ITP programmes. While some
studies (Blake et al., 1995; Asher and Malet, 1999; Foster 1999; Hobson, 2003) have
suggested that student teachers are still often sceptical of the more ‘theoretical’ (and HEI-
based) aspects of their training, other research (Holligan, 1997; Furlong et al., 2000)
suggests that many of them now take a more positive view. For example, Williams and
Soares (2000) offer evidence of high levels of student teacher satisfaction with HEI-based
work, and high levels of support amongst them for “training that examines the principles
behind the practice of teaching” and “learning about how children learn” (Williams and
Soares, 2000: 15-19). What such findings do not tell us, however, is why respondents
thought such aspects were important or whether they felt that it was important to use such
knowledge to inform or reflect upon their teaching. In a small scale study of four secondary-
phase, postgraduate programmes, Hobson (2003) found that whilst most trainees expressed
support for such ‘theoretical’ aspects of their training, only a minority of these saw this
‘theoretical knowledge’ as informing their practical work in schools or assisting them to
develop their practical teaching capability. The majority viewed it as separate from their
practice but of intrinsic value in that it served as a source of ‘background’ information, or (in
a few cases) needed only for such extrinsic reasons as association with professional status.
It is also possible that trainees’ continuing perceptions of a dichotomy between theory and
practice may be unconsciously reinforced by the teachers tasked with their support. In a
study of four postgraduate training programmes, Evans and Abbott (1997) found that many
mentors perceived ‘theory’ in terms of professional studies and subject / methods studies, as
distinct from classroom-based practice, and appeared to lack the confidence to incorporate
such elements into their work with trainees. As Hascher et al. (2004) point out, reflective
teaching also needs to be learned, and it is the mentor’s duty to support this, as it is to
promote attitudes that foster lifelong learning:
“As long as mentors and student teachers focus exclusively on experience, essential
learning aspects are lost during practicum and the gap between theory and practice
persists or even deepens” (p.13).
Hagger and McIntyre (2006) strongly advocate that the core of beginning teachers’
professional learning should be located in schools (though closely integrated with a
supporting HEI curriculum), arguing that “learning that is primarily work-based has an
enormous … advantage in that it need not incorporate problematic distinctions between
theory and practice” (p.46). However, findings from the initial studies of these authors’ action
research project on structured observation established that “experienced teachers take for
granted the expertise and thinking embedded in their day-to-day teaching, do not easily …
recognise its complexity and importance, and often find it difficult to unpick in any detail”
(p.86). Nevertheless, Hagger and McIntyre suggest that the true potential of the school-
based element in ITP will not be realised until student teachers are enabled to gain access to
the craft-based knowledge of experienced teachers, the “knowledge in use” (p.35) that is
“largely tacit and embedded in practice” (p.37), and thus only to be understood “in a way that
takes account of the particularity of practice” (p.33). This recalls Tomlinson’s (1999a)
comment that:
“Teaching is purposeful and therefore, to be useful, exemplification of teaching
probably also needs to give access not only to the external events of classroom
process and strategy, including the formative and summative evaluation of pupil
learning, but also to the teacher’s internal perspective, including their conscious
thoughts, decisions and reflections in the course of action, situated within the context
of their longer-term planning, evaluation / assessment and reflective analysis”
In both cases, what is important is that trainees are enabled to experience through
observation not just the modelling of behaviour, but the workings in real time of theory-in-
practice; and that, to be fully effective, this process should be supported by a clearly defined
focus and subsequent follow-up (Hagger and McIntyre, 2006), or intensified through frequent
and regular repetition and some form of interactive support (Tomlinson, 1999a).
3.5 The role of reflection in initial teacher preparation
Reflecting on some of the tensions between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ discussed in the previous
section, Totterdell and Lambert (1998) urged the need for a reconceptualisation of ITP
programmes that takes a more organic approach to the integration of theory and practice.
The authors argue that theory should be conceived less as informing or driving practice, and
more as a way of educating practitioners who are attempting to study and manage their own
practice. This would appear to be another manifestation of theory-in-practice, but dependent
on reflection for its realisation.
However, as LaBoskey (1993) concluded from her researches when attempting to arrive at a
definition of reflection as it relates to teaching, “the meaning of reflection [is] not consistent
among the theoreticians, researchers, or teacher educators who employed the term” (p.23).
Her own initial attempt to construct a conceptual framework on the basis of an extensive
literature review leads her to conclude that at the beginning of their ITP, students occupy a
range of locations along “a continuum that extends from ‘Common-sense thinkers’ at one
end to finished ‘Pedagogical thinkers’ at the other” (p.24). LaBoskey suggests that “perhaps
only those who begin closer to the pedagogical end of the continuum” (whom she identifies
by the term ‘Alert Novices’), can benefit from a reflective education program’ (p.24), though
‘Common-sense Thinkers’, when provided with very powerful reflective experiences that
directly challenge misconceptions, may develop the capacity for pedagogical thinking” (p.25).
An empirical application of this framework to student teachers enabled her to further refine
her projected categorisation:
“The two groups could also be differentiated by the nature of the questions they
asked: Alert Novices tended to ask ‘why?’ questions – ‘Why am I doing what I am
doing?’ whereas the Common-sense Thinkers tended to ask ‘how to’ or ‘what works’
questions. In addition, results seemed to indicate that half of the Common-sense
Thinkers were unreflective because of a cognitive inability and the other half because
of an emotional interference. Thus, both ability and aptitude appear to be necessary
for reflective thinking” (p.30).
LaBoskey finds that her study lends support to the view expressed by Boud, Keogh and
Walker (1985) that the “reflective process is a complex one in which both feelings and
cognition are closely related and interactive” (p.11). She suggests that without the internal
motivation to reflect, ‘Common-sense Thinkers’ may need to rely on the external stimulus of
a specific assignment if they are to engage in reflection at all, but will also need help in
developing internal spurs to reflection such as learning to ask ‘why’ questions: “An
implication of this research is that structural aids to reflection matter” (p.33).
The work of Totterdell and Lambert (1998) also extends the concept of the reflective
practitioner, this time by emphasising the importance to beginning teachers of reflecting both
individually and within a communal context. Such deliberation can include “both strategies
that can be learned” (such as how to identify both emergent ideas and problems) and
“sensibilities that can be developed” (p.359), for example honing appropriate listening and
talking skills and developing an ethical stance. Course features to promote this “thinking
that… works through and on… lived experience” (p.360) could include profile tasks; pair work
to plan, implement and evaluate a context-sensitive curriculum package; and tutor- or
mentor-guided frameworks for reflection. An advantage of the communal element in this
process is its power to widen the available frame of reference. As Hagger et al. (2008) point
out, “[t]here are limits ... to what beginning teachers with little accumulation of practice can
learn from simply looking back on what they have done”. As a result, their future ability to
learn “in new and diverse contexts” will be hampered unless they have also “learned how to
go on learning” (p.174). One prerequisite for such an approach, however, is that trainees
should be equipped with appropriate language for dealing with the concept of professional
experience and communicating it to others, a proviso that Tomlinson (1999a) also extends to
those teaching them.
Interestingly, Lunenberg and Willemse (2006) found that their work with teacher educators
on forms of self-study research encouraged participants to become more self-aware,
because (in their words) “it gave us a chance to reflect in the same way we always
encourage our students to do” (p.88). As a result, as one participant explained, some
became “more conscious about the differences between my frame of reference and those of
my students” (p.88). This new understanding led them to identify a range of approaches to
promote student-directed learning: the systematic use of strategies to develop reflection skills
in their student teachers; greater clarity in how student teachers are asked to demonstrate
the use of knowledge (for example, by stating a principle, translating a principle into practice,
or testing a theory); more precise assessment of the level of support needed by student
teachers in learning to learn, especially in learning to connect practice with theory; and more
frequent discussions with student teachers on pedagogical choices.
Such functions are also exercised (and perhaps more crucially so) by the school-based
mentors who support HEI-prepared trainees during their placement experience and play a
critical role in the training on offer to those who opt for employment-based routes. We shall
discuss the role of mentors more specifically in a later section, after first considering the
range and impact of student teachers’ concerns throughout the course of their ITP.
3.6 Student teachers’ concerns
In addition to their conscious or unconscious attitudes towards different elements of ITP
provision, the literature suggests that student teachers tend to share a number of differing
concerns, which vary depending on the stage they have reached in their training or personal
development. Research has moved on since Fuller’s (1969) linear concerns-based model of
pre-service teacher development, in which student teachers were seen to move sequentially
through concerns about self to concerns about situation and task, and then to concerns
about the students they teach and the impact of teaching. Nevertheless, the elements
themselves remain key features in subsequent research findings, both at home and abroad.
Kagan (1992) reviewed 40 research studies on professional growth among trainees and
newly qualified teachers, and found that, in general, most trainees appear to be intensely
concerned with the image of self-as-teacher at the outset of their training, but that, as their
most urgent self-related concerns are resolved, their attention tends to shift towards
concerns about situation and task, and the impact of their teaching on students (see also
Nias, 1989; Burn et al., 2000; Conway and Clark, 2003).
Berry and Loughran (2002) note that trainee teachers are often concerned most, at least in
the early stages, with front-of-class ‘delivery’, and argue that one of the roles of teacher
educators is to assist trainees to move beyond such concerns. However, Kagan’s (1992)
review warns that the initial focus on self appears to be a necessary element in the process
of teacher development, and that any attempts to shorten or abort it may be
As well as the concerns which arise during ITP, research suggests that once student
teachers have completed their training their concerns shift again, drawing attention to issues
which they feel ill-prepared to address in specific teaching contexts. For example, the TTA’s
annual survey of NQTs (2003) which asked respondents about their experiences of ITP,
suggested that many felt that they had not been well prepared to work with children with
English as an additional language (EAL) or to teach pupils from minority ethnic groups. Other
surveys have revealed different concerns, such as a lack of confidence when dealing with
pupils with emotional or behavioural difficulties (Garner, 1996), or teaching children with SEN
in mainstream schools (Hill, 1997).
Capel (2001) surveyed trainees at different stages of a secondary PGCE programme and
found that at the beginning of their programme, they were most concerned with ‘maintaining
the appropriate degree of class control’ whilst, over time, there was a rise in the incidence
and importance of other concerns, such as ‘meeting the needs of different kinds of students’.
However, throughout their training, ‘getting a favourable evaluation of my teaching’ and
‘doing well when a supervisor is present’ were all ranked amongst trainees’ top six concerns.
Capel concludes that students do not pass through a sequence of concerns as previous
research (e.g. by Fuller) has proposed, but only become concerned about the actual process
of their teaching and its impact once they have addressed concerns about their ‘self-survival’
in the classroom. Following McIntyre et al. (1994), who noted that the concerns of individual
trainees may well differ from those identified for the group as a whole, Capel also stresses
the importance of seeking to identify the unique causes of concern for individual students,
and to assist them in addressing these.
In a major study commissioned by the DfES on the effects on teachers’ careers of age,
disability, gender and sexual orientation, Powney et al. (2003) identify a range of specific
concerns that apply mainly to minority groups within the wider student population. These
range from the impact of inflexible logistics through insensitivity to discrimination. Despite
married women students being accepted for teacher training for over 50 years, one informant
commented that colleges still “don’t manage women with children very well” (p.69), whilst
many respondents with disabilities reported that ITP providers “put more emphasis on ‘How
are you going to cope?’ than on identifying how to meet reasonably [their] special needs”
(p.30). Basit et al. (2006) examine in more depth the specific challenges faced by minority
ethnic trainees. Just under a quarter of those respondents to their survey who belonged to a
minority ethnic group reported deliberate racial harassment in their placement schools; those
responsible included not only pupils but in some cases other staff, at all levels from a head
teacher down to fellow trainees. However, as Basit et al. point out, this is not the only form of
racism encountered: “racism… can be overt or covert… deliberate or inadvertent; individual
or institutional… a consequence of malice, jealousy, frustration, ignorance… or merely
apathy” (p.407). These comments could be applied equally to discrimination against other
individuals who differ in some way from the generality of students, such as the disabled.
One way in which both the particular and the general concerns of students can be addressed
is through peer group discussion, which can enrich and extend the learning process by
promoting its affective and emotional aspects (Hawkey, 1995), can provide the “opportunity
to reframe situations and confront one’s own assumptions” (Berry and Loughran, 2002; cited
in Loughran and Russell (Eds.), 2002: 22), and can lead on to mutual support and the
recognition of shared problems (Yourn, 2000). Another important source of individual
support is via the input of a school-based mentor, which is discussed below.
3.7 Student teachers’ experiences of school-based mentoring
Research has found that the school-based mentor or teacher tutor is one of the most
powerful sources of influence on student teachers undergoing pre-service training (e.g. Su,
1992). Nettle (1998) identified evidence of an association between changes in trainees’
beliefs and the beliefs held by their supervising teachers, whilst Hobson (2002) found that
trainees perceive school-based mentoring to be a, if not the, key element of the ITP
experience. His study indicated that trainees most value supportive, reassuring mentors who
are prepared and able to make time for them, to offer practical advice and ideas relating to
their teaching, and to provide constructive feedback on their teaching attempts (cf. Foster,
1999). In Martin and Rippon’s (2003) exploration of student teachers’ views as they looked
forward to induction, ‘approachability’ was the characteristic most frequently mentioned (by
86 per cent of respondents) as desirable within the mentoring relationship.
While Koskela and Ganser (1998; cited in Simpson et al., 2007: 489), typify school-based
student teacher mentors (in Australia termed ‘co-operating teachers’) as either ‘role models’,
‘guides’ or ‘facilitators’, Feiman-Nemser (2001) identifies a range of mentor styles which
could impede the learning of mentees. These included ‘imposing styles’, where the mentor
forces his or her style on the mentee; and the ‘laissez-faire’ style, in which the mentee is not
given sufficient support or guidance. The ideal mentor, for Feiman-Nemser, is the ‘co-
thinker’, who scaffolds the mentee into self-awareness and deeper levels of thinking. For
many student teachers, the perceived value of their school experience is affected by the
degree to which they feel able to act independently, as teachers, in the classroom. McNally
et al. (1997) found that trainees felt a need to be in charge, and suggested that they found it
difficult to take control of a class in the presence of a teacher, and hard to accept a situation
in which the transfer of control from the supervising teacher is partial, such as where the
teacher stays in the room. The worst kind of experience, from the trainees’ point of view, was
when the teacher actively intervened during the lesson. Trainees preferred teachers to allow
them a period of solo teaching to settle in before being observed, were concerned about
being over-observed, and indicated that they preferred more informal modes of observation
such as ‘dropping in’ (even unannounced) rather than formal observation (especially where
the latter involved note taking).
In a study of student teachers’ perceptions of school-based mentoring, Hobson (2002) notes
that the quality of mentoring they experienced appeared to be variable, and some mentors
did not appear to provide ‘safe’ and supportive environments within which the trainees they
were mentoring could learn. Reflecting on these findings, Hobson and Malderez (2002) make
a case for:
more effective selection of teachers who are potentially good mentors
providing teacher-mentors with more time to work with student teachers and to
prepare for such work
providing training, or more effective training, for teachers who are or who wish to
become mentors
careful matching of mentors and student teachers to avoid potential clashes of
personality or approach.
Evans and Abbott (1997), in another study of four postgraduate training programmes in
England, found that one of the difficulties with mentoring in ITP was that mentors often took a
role which resembled a traditional supervisory role (cf. Hargreaves, 1994). This, together with
evidence from elsewhere of a lack of reflectiveness on the part of some teachers (Desforges,
1995; Klaassen, 2002; Korthagen, 2004), has important implications for the issue, highlighted
in Section 3.4 above, that trainees sometimes fail to appreciate the connections and inter-
relations between ‘theoretical’ knowledge and practical teaching. Evans and Abbott (1997)
contend that school-based mentors need to go beyond their traditional role as mere
supervisors and engage more fully in the professional development of their trainees, while
HEIs need to provide mentors with support, and direct them towards appropriate research
that will underpin their mentoring activities. The same authors suggest that mentors may
have differing levels of commitment according to the training route in which they are involved.
In their study, mentors in HEI-administered programmes of ITP appeared more likely to have
reservations about the demands of mentoring in addition to their teaching role, whereas
mentors on SCITT programmes tended to demonstrate a greater investment in helping
trainees to develop as teachers. Both commitment and availability are important factors in
the success of the mentoring relationship.
In general it appears that the role of the school-based mentor, and the relationship between
mentor and trainee, do much to shape trainees’ school-based experiences. In a study of 43
student teachers associated with both undergraduate and postgraduate routes in one HEI-
school partnership, Hayes (2000) found that the skill with which student teachers learn to
adjust to the placement school’s culture will have a significant impact on their success, and
that good quality mentoring is a prime factor both in giving them confidence and in facilitating
their ‘rite of passage’ into the profession. Other studies, however, suggest that the lack of
social and psychological support experienced by some trainee and early career teachers
who had been led to expect it has been a contributory factor in their decisions to withdraw
from their ITP courses or leave the profession, whilst the restricted range of practices
employed by some mentors impedes the learning and development of their mentees
(Hobson et al., in press). In addition, some studies have suggested that the present
arrangements for school- and employment-based initial teacher preparation bring their own
(perhaps inevitable) limitations. This caveat applies also to the induction year, when as
Jones (2001) has suggested, the nature of school-based training and of the NQT / mentor
relationship itself may be determined largely by the demands of outcomes-, competency- or
Standards-based assessment.
This ‘competency model’ (Maynard and Furlong, 2003; cited in Vozzo et al., 2004: 336) is
among the models of mentoring discussed by Vozzo et al. (2004) in their comprehensive
overview of the relevant literature. In another, classified by Maynard and Furlong as ‘the
reflective model’, mentors themselves pass through a series of stages as their trainees
develop the techniques and habit of reflection. Beginning in the role of guide, they later
become instructors and finally “establish themselves as co-inquirers, with the aim of
promoting critical reflection on teaching” (Maynard and Furlong, 1993: 82; cited in Vozzo et
al., 2004). Similarly, Feiman-Nemser (2001) classifies mentors first as ‘local guides’, then as
‘educational companions’, and finally as ‘agents of change’ (Feiman-Nemser, 2001; cited in
Vozzo et al., 2004: 336) whose role is to promote reflective practice and challenge pre-
existing images of teaching. However, as Vozzo et al. (2004) comment, “progressing to this
last stage can be problematic, as it requires a lessening of control” (p.336); indeed, Feiman-
Nemser (2001) found that few mentors saw their function as actively to promote reflective
practice. Rather than this sequential model, Vozzo et al. prefer the analogy put forward by
Fairbanks et al. (2000) that mentoring is like a dance, with the mentor leading and the
student following, or Orland’s (2001) image of mentoring as being “like reading a text
interactively” (p.79). Vozzo et al. (2004) go on to discuss the alternative concept of a ‘web’ of
mentoring, as described in some of the literature, which is based on the premise that more
than one individual is needed in order to fulfil adequately the different stages and mentoring
roles discussed above.
In the current context of ITP in England and Wales, the separation of the assessment
function of mentors from others, such as the support, educator and coaching functions may
be particularly apt, especially given some of the findings reported above and in the previous
chapter (e.g. Edwards and Ogden, 1998). There is some evidence that the performance of
the assessment role can impede the effective performance of the others, and in doing so
may impede the development of the student teacher’s learning, the very object of the
assessment. However, the research on this point, and also as it applies to the induction of
NQTs, is not conclusive (see, for example, Foster, 1999; Heilbronn et al., 2002; Martin and
Rippon, 2003; Yusko and Feiman-Nemser, 2008).
Hascher et al. (2004) argue that the quality of student-mentor relationships is crucially
important because student learning is in part dependent on “the socio-emotional climate
during practicum, which is mainly influenced by the mentors” (p.634). This suggests that in
discussing mentoring, we are moving into the area of affective issues as they impact on
student teachers’ experiences, and these will be considered in the section that follows.
However, we shall also revisit the topic of mentoring in Chapter 5, in the context of the role of
the Induction Tutor, and its impact on new teachers’ experiences during the induction year.
3.8 The role and impact of trainees’ emotions in ITP
In a study of student teachers’ experiences during their final school placement, McNally et al.
(1994) placed stress on “their developing sense of ‘belonging’ to the teaching community in
their schools”, and commented that “recognition by teachers as a colleague and confirmation
of teacher status by pupils were major dimensions of this feeling” (p219). The importance of
such experiences helps to explain the strength and variety of emotions revealed by
participants in this and other similar studies. Indeed, respondents to one study of school
placements (Hayes, 2000) overtly linked the quality and warmth of their welcome to their
resulting confidence to teach. Another qualitative study of the same period of training, also by
Hayes (2003) identified a mix of anticipatory emotions combining eagerness, excitement and
‘stage fright’. Hayes comments that although anticipation could act as a motivator, it could
also be enervating if fears about coping were stronger than the trainee’s motivation to teach:
in a minority of cases, the anxious emotions that naturally precede a new experience had
intensified into a deep and inhibiting state of fear. Of all the student teachers who reported
such fears, none made specific reference to any help or reassurance gained through talking
to their tutors; indeed, their accounts suggest that tutors were unaware of the extent to which
some of their trainees were in need of support.
The period chosen as a focus for this research, the trainees’ final teaching placement, can at
times appear to constitute a ‘break point’ in the career intentions of trainees, though around
half of the participants in Hayes’ study said they were strongly influenced as they
approached their final teaching practice by the success or otherwise of earlier placements.
Trainees who had experienced positive previous placements were more likely to approach
their new situation with ‘affirming emotions’, confident and confirmed in their sense of
vocation; but where memories of placement were largely negative, many were haunted by
expectations of failure intensified by a sense that this was their last chance to prove
themselves. In some ways the pressure on employment-based trainees is greater, since
they may feel themselves in a ‘make-or- break’ situation. Many of these at least have the
advantage of greater maturity, but for Teach First recruits straight from university, their first
year in school, relatively untrained but with the same teaching workload as an NQT, could
prove “a mix of highs and ‘valleys of death’ ” (Hutchings et al., 2006: 84).
The impact of emotional peaks of this sort may be intensified if the trainees are in an ongoing
state of stress. Head et al. (1996) attribute the high stress levels generated during the post-
graduate year to the culture shock of becoming a teacher, the high workload, concerns about
finding employment, and financial worries (over a third of men and half the women PGCE
trainees in their study reported concern about their finances). While the symptoms were
evenly spread between physical and mental, the most commonly reported were sleep
disturbance and mood changes, both of which have the potential to impinge directly on the
efficacy of a trainee’s performance. A suggestion by Goddard et al. (2006) that some
beginning teachers and even trainees are subject to a specific ‘burnout syndrome’ will be
discussed in Chapter 5 in the context of the induction year.
The dramatic language used by trainee teachers to describe their feelings is often echoed by
researchers striving to convey the tensions and strong emotions experienced at various
stages during initial teacher preparation, and identified in the course of qualitative fieldwork.
Trainees are variously described as ‘lost at sea’ (Kauffman et al., 2002) or stranded in a
high-wire act (Malderez, 2003): in each case the implication being that ITP does not always
provide the lifeboat / safety net needed.
A particular source of emotional conflict during both school placements and the induction
phase occurs where the pedagogic approach and priorities of the placement class teacher,
or the culture of the school itself, are at odds with those instilled at other stages of the ITP
programme (Schluk and Segal, 2002; cited in Loughran and Russell (Eds.), 2002; Hayes,
2003; Smagorinsky et al., 2003). This can be exacerbated by an unwelcoming or
uncooperative approach on the part of existing staff. Bathmaker and Avis (2005) describe a
sense of alienation amongst trainee FE lecturers so strong that they felt marginalized from
the communities of practice encountered during their placements, and reduced to a form of
‘unwilling compliance’ (Shain and Gleeson, 1999; cited in Bathmaker and Avis, 2005: 60).
More common in schools is a form of ‘strategic compliance’ (Bathmaker and Avis, 2005: 59),
in which trainees defer to the class teacher’s approach but without in any way giving it their
intellectual assent. Where this leaves the trainee feeling that the children are losing out,
compromise may be accompanied by feelings of guilt.
Most student teachers appear in any case to tend towards a low opinion of their
performance, another source of negative emotions. Burn et al. (2000) in the course of the
Developing Expertise of Beginning Teachers (DEBT) project found that in trainees’
evaluations of their own teaching, around 60 per cent of the evaluations relating to pupils
were positive, compared with only about one third of the comments about their own actions
or planning. New teachers too were found to lack confidence about their ability to be
objective about their own performance, with many mentioning the tendency to be overcritical
especially at this early stage in their careers (Martin and Rippon, 2003).
McNally et al. (1994) argue that initial teacher education (ITE) needs to take more account of
the dominant emotional needs of student teachers, while Hayes (2003) calls for far more
attention to be paid to their emotional welfare, especially during their preparation for school
placement, a time when they have little control over the unknown professional and social
contexts that they are entering. As Haritos (2004) observes:
“Teacher candidates, who are guided by naïve, idealistic, and unrealistic teaching
beliefs, resistant to change, have been found to feel overwhelmed, shocked and
disillusioned by the realities of the classroom” (p.15).
Conversely, novice teachers will be far better equipped to experience “easy beginnings”
(Huberman 1989: 42) if they leave their ITP programme equipped with “a clear and well-
developed set of expectations about the day-to-day realities of teaching and schools, student
behaviour, and the time demands [they] would face” (Hebert and Worthy, 2001: 903).
Preparation for such realities should include a degree of cultural competency if students are
to avoid the difficulties experienced by novices in the United States resulting from
“inadequate preparation to relate to or work effectively with students whose experiences and
values are different from their own” (Whisnant et al., 2005: 23).
Hayes (2003) urges that trainees should be helped to identify and deal with specific areas of
concern (including any resulting from previous placements) in such a way that this becomes
a constructive part of their experience, part of the “necessary groundwork” (p.168) that
prepares them for the stresses of teaching itself. This is the kind of ‘realistic approach’
recommended by Korthagen (2002), one that is grounded in concrete problems and trainees’
own experiences and concerns, and seeks to address the affective as well as cognitive
aspects of the student teacher’s learning process: an approach in which attention must be
paid to less rational forms of information processing, to the influence of role models, and to
the function of reflection. Korthagen advocates a cyclical process of learning that starts from
student teachers’ own experiences, and in which action alternates with reflection, both
promoting it and promoted by it: an interaction between theory and practice that requires
frequent alternation of school-based experience with interventions by both teacher educators
and mentors.
3.9 The importance of relationships during ITP
Running alongside the many references to the emotional experiences and needs of student
teachers, and often intertwined with them, is an emphasis on the importance of relationships;
this has already been touched on during the discussion on mentoring in Section 3.5 above.
As McNally et al. (1997) comment,
“The paradoxical nature of the [teaching] experience is perhaps best appreciated as a
dynamic kind of equilibrium, controlled unequally by the individual student and others,
the balance shifting between solitary reflection and practice, and a strongly felt need
for the support of others” (p.497).
Such support can be “social as well as professional, intended or accidental, spoken or felt,
close or distant” (McNally et al., 1997: 497), and can include positive relationships with pupils
as an important element. Younger et al. (2004) found that new recruits to ITP perceived
‘good teachers’ as having a good rapport with, and respect for, pupils, whilst ‘bad teachers’
had poor relationships with them and treated them without respect. Hayes (2003) identified
poor relationships with the class teacher or mentor, and / or unwelcoming staff in the host
school, as major factors in the ‘failure’ of school placements. In addition, as de Lima (2003)
observes, departmental cultures may well have “a strong impact on the way their student
teachers [are] socialised into teaching” (p.213): where student teachers “professionally
speaking ... virtually live in a world apart” (p.204) from the permanent members of their host
department, this will reinforce a concept of teaching as “an individualistic process”, however
much they may have been trained for collaboration.
A different kind of negative effect created by some of the recruitment publicity for the fast-
track employment-based Teach First scheme led to participants seeing themselves as
“saviours or fire fighters going in there to kind of save these classes that are used to having
crappy teachers who aren’t interested” (Hutchings et al., 2006: 79), with an implied corollary
that receiving schools and their teachers were of low quality, and sometimes (as the authors
report) a correspondingly negative effect on relationships with the placement school.
On the positive side, Oberski et al. (1999) suggest that NQTs should be alerted to the
potential benefit of supportive relationships, and that a greater emphasis should be placed on
interpersonal skills. Referring to Scotland, where newly qualified teachers must serve a one-
year probationary training placement, Martin and Rippon (2003) recommend that NQTs
should be better prepared to deal with criticism during this period; and that this could be done
by engaging them during ITP in a dialogue on progress and development, in which they are
treated as “equal partners whose views are valid and valued” (p.155). Hoy and Spero (2005)
go further by recommending that teacher education should prepare student teachers to seek
and create support for themselves. An account of this process in action is given in the study
by Hebert and Worthy (2001) of the positive performance of one new teacher, offered by
them as ‘a case study of success’. A degree of emotional literacy is an essential prerequisite
for a proactive approach of this kind: if this can be fostered during the teacher preparation
period, it is likely to enable trainees to make a more successful transition to the role of NQT.
3.10 Conclusions
An emphasis on the needs and experiences of the individual has been a common strand
running through much of this chapter, from the choice of training route via expectations and
preconceptions to the variation in individual concerns. Hawkey (1995) argues that reflective
practice is more likely to be promoted by approaches that acknowledge the individual’s social
or emotional context, whilst Korthagen (2002) urges teacher educators to address the
affective as well as cognitive aspects of the learning process through an approach grounded
in concrete problems and trainees’ own experiences and concerns. As adjuncts to such an
approach trainees will need to be exposed to contexts and methodologies that support
individual reflection, but they will also need support in acquiring appropriate language in
which to discuss their experiences (Totterdell and Lambert, 1998). Finally, and most
importantly, trainees will need to develop interpersonal skills, for these will enable them to
assert their rights to the reasonable satisfaction of their individual needs. Such skills should
also prepare them to interact successfully with their peers, with teacher colleagues and
mentors in their placement schools (Hardy, 1999; Martin and Rippon, 2003), and
subsequently with professional colleagues and parents (Davies and Ferguson, 1997). Thus
equipped, they will be better placed to move forward into their first year as qualified teachers.
The next chapter considers recruitment into the first teaching post, an important step which
grows out of, and in one sense is the culmination of, the teacher preparation experience.
Chapter 4: Recruitment to the first teaching post
4.1 Introduction
Few studies of initial teacher preparation have directed attention towards the recruitment
process as it affects first-time teachers, though rather more information is available on
general recruitment issues as they affect LAs and schools. The brief chapter that follows will
explore the (currently rather limited) evidence on the wider picture as it impacts on NQT
recruitment, and attempt to identify elements within the recruitment process that (according
to some research) seem likely to have a beneficial effect on new teacher retention.
4.2 Regional disparities in teacher recruitment
One key area addressed by recent research on teacher recruitment is the distribution of
teachers by region. Menter et al. (2002) argue that there have been problems with the ways
in which ITP places are distributed:
“The system under which this process operates has been directly related to the
quality of provision as reflected by inspection grades. The insensitivity of this system
to local and regional need is but one of the features giving rise to the major gap
between demand and supply. There is a strong tendency for teachers to seek
employment only in close proximity to the location of their initial teacher training.
Thus, even if there appeared to be sufficient teachers nationally, they would not
necessarily be in the right places, nor with the appropriate qualifications” (p.2).
In order to improve their supply of new recruits many LAs have appointed Recruitment
Strategy Managers (RSMs) to attempt to counter the regional disparities in vacancy rates.
Given the scale of the shortages in London, this area has received particular attention from
the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). However, whilst there is literature on the extent
of such schemes, as yet there appears to be little evaluation of their long term impact (Birks,
2000). In order to be successful, regional strategies would need to draw recruits from those
areas where there was a surplus of teachers; however, as suggested above, the evidence
shows that many teachers tend to remain in the areas in which they originate or train
(Hutchings et al., 2000). The tendency for teachers to show geographical inflexibility is also
found in the US where, in many states, most teachers still teach in schools near where they
grew up or went to college (Sykes and Darling-Hammond, 2003). Older teachers are even
less likely to move than members of the profession with a younger age profile. This has
particular implications for employment-based routes, but also suggests that current patterns
in the regional distribution of teachers may possibly change in future, in line with the
changing demographic profile of those entering teaching.
4.3 Student teachers and the appointment process
To look at teacher supply only in terms of geographical need could lead to short-term results
at the expense of long-term stability, since some research findings (notably those discussed
by Johnson, 2004) suggest that the degree to which new teachers make a successful ‘match’
with their first school may have a direct bearing on their long-term continuation in the
profession. In the words of Kyriacou et al. (2003) “the experience of early success and
satisfaction in a teacher’s first appointment is crucial for retention” (p.262). We shall return to
this issue in more detail in Chapter 8, when we come to consider teacher attrition during the
early years of service.
If appropriate first-job placement is equally to the benefit of individuals and institutions, it is
important that student teachers approaching their first career decisions should be able both
to evaluate their own aptitudes and priorities, and to assess the information provided by the
would-be host school. It is also important that selection should be seen to be fair and open
on both sides. Draper et al. (1997) found in their study of Scottish NQTs that those in
‘broken’ employment patterns expressed considerable dissatisfaction with selection
procedures, citing such factors as the narrowness of the evidence base used by schools, and
the extent to which selectors had the necessary information on which to base their choice.
The availability and adequacy of information feature also in the responses of some ‘movers’
to Smithers and Robinson’s (2005) survey on teacher turnover, who reported that a feeling of
being misled during the recruitment process had contributed to their decision to move on.
The authors suggest that head teachers may achieve more successful and lasting NQT
recruitment if they present a realistic picture to applicants in order to screen out any who
might not cope. Other recent studies such as those discussed by Bush (2005) tend to
reinforce the message that in the long run the targeted and truthful marketing of vacancies -
what Johnson (2004) calls an ‘information-rich’ process - may serve schools better than a
pragmatic attempt to fill a gap at all costs.
It could also be helpful to offer at the ITP stage some form of guidance on choice that will
dissuade student teachers from accepting a job offer at all costs, even the first job that offers,
because they are afraid of being left without employment at the start of the next academic
year. Personal factors are important here, since different individuals will use different criteria
to determine the kind of school in which they want to work, and different ways of finding it.
Respondents to the survey conducted by Powney et al. (2003) mentioned a range of factors
which they considered influential in helping them to secure their first (or first permanent) post
that included successful school placements (both in general, and, more specifically, in the
school offering employment), supply teaching, networks of friends (especially teachers), and
“being in the right place at the right time” (p.30). While some of these factors suggest an
approach to job-hunting that may rely too much on serendipity, the mention of placement
schools and supply teaching exemplifies the attraction of the familiar. This is a familiar theme
from other research: the successful NQT in Hebert and Worthy’s (2001) case study, for
example, attributed the positive experiences of her first year partly to her securing a post at a
school with which she was familiar from a student placement. Such familiarity can also prove
an advantage to would-be employers: one factor apparently associated with successful NQT
recruitment and good staff retention in the case studies conducted by Smithers and
Robinson (2005) was the participation of schools in ITP in order to secure a reservoir of
future applicants.
Respondents to Powney et al. (2003) also pointed out that “being made to feel physically
different from other staff increased their own awareness of their gender, disability, ethnicity
and age” (p.25); even where the ‘difference’ was not extreme, this could lead men to want to
work where there were other men, for example, or minority ethnic teachers to feel ‘more
comfortable’ in culturally diverse schools. More specifically, for reasons of cultural
acceptability, some Asian or Muslim women might choose to work in girls’ schools or the
predominantly female environment of primary education.
For other job applicants it is their perceptions of the more general ethos of the school and the
intrinsic nature of the teaching there, whether academic or otherwise, that will most influence
their choice. Heafford and Jennison’s (1998) report on a Cambridge PGCE cohort found that
the factors most frequently identified by respondents as influencing their acceptance of their
first teaching post were (in rank order) the positive atmosphere of the school, the possibility
of teaching post-16 pupils, and the subject timetable offered. For rather different schools,
Bush (2005) advocates the specific targeting of trainee teachers motivated to work with
challenging or disadvantaged pupils, and cites an American example which had impressed
the Education and Skills Select Committee:
“Challenging schools have particular problems with retention and recruitment. We
believe that one of the best ways to help them retain teachers is to seek out those
trainees who are keen to work in challenging schools and to provide them with
specially tailored training and a network of post-qualification support. We were
impressed by the work of Center X at UCLA, which trains and supports teachers in
this way, and we recommend that similar programmes are developed here” (House of
Commons Education and Skills Committee, 2004, cited in Bush, 2005: 36).
The Teach First scheme in this country appears to reflect these aims, partially at least, by
stressing the altruistic aspects of work in a challenging school. This initiative, which has
already been discussed in Chapter One, was introduced in 2003 with the explicit aim of
attracting high achieving graduates to challenging schools in London. While in 2005 Bush
reported of ‘Teach First’ that ‘this approach has had considerable success, with well over
1,000 applicants for around 200 places in each of its first three years’ (p.40), she also
commented that the long-term success of the scheme remained to be seen, especially in
terms of how many of the ‘high flier’ graduates involved would remain in the profession.
However, Hutchings et al.’s (2006) evaluation of the scheme for the TDA found that “the
opportunity to work in challenging schools has been the key to the recruitment of ‘top’
graduates” (p.77), and identified as key successes of the programme:
“the recruitment into teaching of substantial numbers of graduates, who would not
otherwise have become teachers, and who have good degrees from elite universities
and generally outstanding personal qualities; and
the short-term and long-term contribution to the staffing of challenging schools in
disadvantaged areas, particularly in shortage subjects.” (p.77).
Whilst Hutchings et al. (2006) report that only one third of the first cohort recruited had been
retained as teachers in their placement schools after the two years to which they had
committed themselves, they also found that an additional nine per cent were teaching
elsewhere in the UK, sometimes in other challenging schools.
4.4 School approaches to engaging NQTs
The differing approaches of schools in England to recruiting and retaining new teachers are
clearly demonstrated in some of the illustrative case studies featured in Smithers and
Robinson’s (2005) report. One secondary school in a challenging inner city area actively
offered placements to trainee teachers as part of its recruitment policy, with a view to
retaining them as members of staff. Whilst its promotional literature for applicants was
targeted on teachers who would ‘make a difference’, this was accompanied by a clear
intention to foster the personal advancement of NQT recruits. Newly appointed teachers
were supported by a life coach, did not have to undertake cover duties, and received out-of-
hours payment; and it was made clear from the outset that within the school hierarchy,
internal promotion to head of department posts was the norm. (Interestingly, early promotion
is one of the factors identified by Barton (2004) as characterising the most contented of the
recently qualified teachers who participated in her study). In this school, staff turnover was
low and pupil numbers rising.
In contrast to the high level of commitment to first time teachers in the school discussed
above, the head teacher in a ‘paired’ school with a high staff turnover recruited three or four
NQTs each year, but placed new staff on a temporary contract to see how they settled.
Another high-turnover school in a commuter town south of London (but outside the London
allowance area) attributed its turnover in part to the need for young recruits to move on after
two or three years in post because of the high price of housing: much time was said to have
been spent in recruiting and marketing, and on ‘nurturing’ those that remained (Smithers and
Robinson, 2005).
4.5 Conclusions
Smithers and Robinson comment that their case studies taken as a whole show differences
in retention to result from the interplay of many factors, both within and outside the control of
the individual school. Nevertheless, they identify three main themes:
the head teacher’s influence in setting the tone of the school;
the support given to staff; and
the use of a positive recruitment strategy so that the teachers appointed are
appropriate to, and comfortable with, the school’s needs.
Each of these factors is as relevant to first-time teachers as to their more experienced
colleagues, with the added importance that the misjudged offer - or acceptance - of an NQT
appointment could well result in the loss of another teacher to the profession.
In her study on new teacher attrition in the US, Johnson (2004) argues that an information-
rich hiring process which calls for active involvement from both the individual and the school
in order to ensure a good match is one way to improve new teachers’ in-school experiences.
These experiences, in what is currently termed in England the induction year, will be the
focus of the next chapter.
Chapter 5: New teachers’ experiences during the induction year
5.1 Introduction
This chapter explores issues relating to the experiences of beginning teachers as they move
from initial teacher preparation into their role as Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs). Research
to date suggests that this is a significant period of transition, with the initial period of teaching
(post-ITP) famously referred to as ‘reality shock’ (Gaede, 1978; Veenman, 1984), an
experience vividly described by Huberman in his seminal study on teachers’ lives
(Huberman, 1989) and still widely discussed in the literature (e.g. Indoshi, 2003; Stokking et
al., 2003). It has been argued that “beginning teachers actually learn how to teach when they
enter the classroom in their first year” (Wideen et al., 1998: 158), rather than during their ITP.
Other studies, for example, Hargreaves and Jacka (1995), have highlighted an incongruity
between trainees’ experiences on ITP programmes and the experiences of NQTs in their first
teaching posts.
In recent years a number of initiatives have been introduced in this country to address issues
relating to transfer between the ITP and NQT years. Most notably, a statutory induction year
for NQTs has been introduced (Teaching and Higher Education Act, 1998), which places the
onus on schools to ensure adequate levels of support for new teachers.
Furthermore, some
localised initiatives have also been developed, either by individual schools, or by LAs. Thus,
as with their ITP, novices’ experiences can differ markedly depending on the arrangements
made by individual schools. In addition, first-time teachers might be expected to bring
different experiences depending upon the ITP route they followed.
This chapter will discuss the following key areas:
experiences related to the transition from student teacher to NQT;
ideal and actual models of induction;
statutory induction requirements for NQTs in England and Wales;
the impact of induction arrangements on NQTs’ experiences;
positive and negative experiences during the first year’s teaching.
5.2 The transition from student teacher to NQT
In December 1995 Capel (1998) set out to explore the perceptions of secondary NQTs who
had recently completed a secondary PGCE course at a single HEI. Asked about what they
did, or did not, feel well prepared for when they embarked on teaching, 45 per cent of the 49
participants (who comprised about a quarter of the cohort) said they had felt ‘well prepared’
for planning and preparation, but the equivalent response for classroom management was
only 27 per cent. Specific areas where some had felt less well prepared included teaching
KS4 / GCSE (31%), and dealing with behaviour problems (24%); and when participants were
invited to list any concerns they had felt when they were about to embark on teaching, 29 per
cent listed discipline issues and the prospect of facing difficult classes. Asked to identify
separately their concerns at the end of the first term’s teaching, some NQTs reported that
they had coped better than they had expected, and overall the level of concerns was lower;
but some were evidently still learning to cope, and admitted that their initial perceptions of
readiness had failed to match up to reality.
Although this study predates important changes in statutory provision for NQTs, almost half
of respondents had been allotted a mentor, the form of support most frequently mentioned.
Also important to them, however, was the support that came from meetings of first-time
teachers (either in-school or across a group of schools) and from informal sources. Again,
The statutory requirements for NQTs are discussed further in Section 5.3 below.
when they were asked about ways of coping during their first year’s teaching, these NQTs
identified informal sources, such as talking to colleagues, friends, partners, or other people.
Amongst other coping strategies mentioned were regular physical exercise, drinking alcohol,
and crying.
These details drawn from a small qualitative study exemplify the strand of individual personal
experience which runs parallel in the research to more general studies of policy and
academic theory. In the words of the McCrone report (Scottish Executive Education
Department (SEED), 2000; cited in McNally, 2002: 161):
“No amount of pre-service training can fully prepare newly qualified entrants for the
challenges they will face when they become teachers, and the tumultuous emotional
journey undertaken by many NQTs is a theme common to research (especially
qualitative research) across Europe and beyond”.
Although most of the Portuguese NQTs studied by Flores (2004) enthusiastically welcomed
the freedom and challenge of ‘being on their own’, they also found their new status daunting.
Most arrived at their new schools still unprepared both intellectually and emotionally to deal
with increased workload and distance from home. Uncertain and isolated in a new
environment, and often without any support or guidance from colleagues, many became
unsure of their own ability to cope with and juggle the wide range of roles they were expected
to fulfil. In Israel, too, Friedman (2000) identified links between teacher burnout and what he
describes as “shattered dreams of impeccable professional performance”, caused by
“professional efficacy discrepancy” (p.597): the gap between expected (albeit unrealistic) and
actual levels of performance (Friedman, 2000). We have here examples of what Huberman
(1989:42) terms ‘painful beginnings’: “role overload and anxiety, difficult pupils, heavy time
investment, close monitoring by teacher education staff, and isolation inside the school”.
Fully a third of the 160 secondary teachers in his study looked back across years of
experience and recalled, at times with “nightmarish emotion” (Huberman, 1993: 195), how
they began their professional lives in this way. The author notes that such experiences
followed rather than preceded the formal programme of teacher preparation, and compares
their comments to similar ones made by medical interns.
Sometimes the idea of ‘performance’ is used more literally by participants in Huberman’s
study: “The notion of role appears distinctly, in allusions to theatre: ‘enter into the skin of a
teacher, have the butterflies, play a role’, right down to the clothes worn” (Huberman, 1993:
196). But while stage fright can be the prelude to - indeed is sometimes seen by professional
actors as a vital component in - successful performance, when experienced at the onset of
teaching ‘for real’ it can also be deeply inhibiting: “I experienced it like an actor going on
stage to meet his audience… I had butterflies, the students intimidated me” (op. cit.: 196).
Another difficulty awaiting the novice on her / his transition from student teacher to NQT lies
in assuming an appropriate role in the staff-room, and this of course depends in part on the
rest of the cast. In her study of rising attrition rates among new teachers in the USA, Johnson
(2004) distinguishes between three forms of professional culture encountered by the 50 new
teachers whose experiences featured in the qualitative strand of her research: ‘veteran-
oriented cultures’, ‘novice-oriented cultures’ and ‘integrated cultures’.
In a ‘veteran-oriented’ culture, experienced teachers value their independence and privacy
and pay little attention to the needs or talents of the few novice teachers in their school. As a
result the “newness” of new teachers goes unrecognised (p.146) and they are expected to
assume a full teaching load and other responsibilities from the start; mentoring is limited,
observation tends to be evaluative rather than supportive, and the new teachers suffer from
professional isolation.
‘Novice-oriented’ cultures occur most frequently in Charter Schools
, reconstituted or
redesigned schools, and low-performing schools where the teacher turnover is high. Here the
school ethos and modes of work tend to be determined by the high proportion of young
teachers. With a shortage of experienced colleagues, mentoring, observation and feedback
are at best limited, and advice based on practical experience can be hard to come by.
‘Integrated’ professional cultures, however, offer new teachers “an environment of inclusion
and support” through structures that “facilitate interaction and reinforce interdependence”
(p.159). These include formal one-to-one mentoring, direct help with classroom instruction,
and opportunities to be observed teaching and to observe others.
Johnson comments that these inclusive cultures benefit both new teachers and their
experienced colleagues. Although many of the contextual circumstances differ from the
English educational system, the experiences portrayed in this study powerfully bring home
the challenges that confront first-time teachers, and especially the difficulties that can
accompany their integration into the culture of their new school.
For the NQTs studied by Johnson the fatigue attendant on operating a full timetable from the
start while still learning how their new school functioned was often an exacerbating factor in
the distress they felt. However, the interviews cited also provide evidence that
empowerment, support and a positive relationship with pupils could offset stress and fatigue
and encourage them to persevere. Similarly Flores (2004), in her study of new teachers in
Portugal, reported that while some found their motivation sapped by stress, constant fatigue
and loneliness, others were buoyed up by positive relationships with their students. This is
part of “the other side of the ledger”, as Huberman terms it “the initial enthusiasm of having
one’s own pupils; one’s own classroom, materials, and yearly program[me]; and of feeling
oneself a colleague among peers” (Huberman 1989: 33), though he notes that not all studies
suggest that the survival and discovery dimensions co-exist, and that the latter allows the
novice teacher to tolerate the former.
Writing before the implementation of statutory induction provision, Hardy (1999) warns that
his own findings, strongly supported by the literature, suggest that the imperative to ‘survive’
their first year and a limited range of opportunities for development within a school context
over which they have little influence, may lead new teachers to narrow the range of
instructional strategies that they actually employ. Smethem and Adey (2005:192) found that
all of the NQTs in their small-scale study “initially felt less competent in some of their
teaching than they had done as PGCE students, and focused on ‘survival’. Coping with the
sheer volume of work, much of it new, prevented further experimentation in their teaching”.
Some authors characterise this as a form of regression: Flores (2004:133) concluded that the
shock resulting from NQTs’ encounter with the reality of teaching may not only challenge
their personal beliefs and idealistic expectations, but also lead them to ‘unlearn’ what appear
to be the ‘unreal’ theories acquired at university and replace them by pragmatic survival
techniques, even where these go against their deeper instincts. The remedy, she suggests,
is to provide more opportunities to voice and reflect on personal values and beliefs at the
training stage, in order to support the formation of individual teacher identity and so enhance
the strength of NQTs to cope with this transitional experience.
Smagorinsky et al. (2003) also found that when new teachers became subject to the norms
and prevailing ethos of their first school, their practice could shift accordingly. Where the
school’s pedagogic approach was directly at variance with that advocated at the university,
the NQT might react with acquiescence, grudging accommodation, or resistance, but in each
case these feelings were accompanied by frustration. A similar process was reported by
Schluck and Segal (2002): these teacher trainers felt that they had been influential in
reframing their students’ views of mathematics and science teaching, but once in school as
NQTs, some became uncertain of how to implement the philosophies developed during ITP.
In the US, Charter Schools are publicly-funded but autonomous schools which have the freedom to decide their
own structure and curriculum.
The resulting tension between school realities and first-time teacher ideals created feelings
of frustration, exacerbated in some cases by a lack of resources, the appropriation of
resources by colleagues, and the requirement to teach from another teacher’s programme.
The authors’ findings led them to realise that their students needed help to develop
strategies for working within school constraints without having to abandon their ideals, and
that they as teacher trainers needed to take far more account of the school context in their
subject presentation.
In addition to better preparation for transition at the ITP stage, research suggests that some
at least of its associated challenges can best be addressed through the provision of good
quality induction. We now discuss briefly some ideal and actual models of induction reported
in the literature, before outlining the present statutory requirements for induction in England
and Wales, and drawing on a range of studies to discuss the role of the induction tutor and
the experiences of newly qualified teachers.
5.3 Some models of Induction
In the course of their review of American literature on beginning teacher induction, Whisnant
et al. (2005) discuss criteria for establishing comprehensive induction programmes, and
present a table (p.5) of appropriate components and their corresponding functions, based
largely on papers by the Alliance for Excellent Education (2004) and Fideler and Haselkorn
(1999). This is reproduced as Table 1 below.
The recommendations on which this table is based are drawn from a selection of state,
district and partnership-sponsored programmes functioning across the US, but Whisnant et
al. (2005: 6) also draw attention to other research identifying characteristics perceived by the
authors as less frequently to be found in the US: “a high degree of structure, a focus on
professional learning, and an emphasis on collaboration”.
Table 1: Models of Induction
Orientation Programme * Address building and district norms.
* Identify available resources.
Quality, Structured Mentoring * Select mentors according to rigorous criteria.
* Establish provisions for time, support and
* Assure that mentor / mentee matches have a
common instructional focus.
Common Planning Time * Focus on lesson design and curriculum.
* Use student assessment data to guide
* Promote collaboration.
Intensive and Ongoing Professional
* Identify the teaching needs of the beginning
teacher and the mentor.
* Expand content knowledge.
* Address diversity in learning and culture.
External Network of Teachers * Enable mentors and novices to gather in like
* Encourage reflective dialogue.
Standards-Based Evaluation * Match established standards to practices.
* Support demonstrations of performance.
* Encourage peer review.
Source: A Review of Literature on beginning teacher induction by E Whisnant, K Elliott & S
Pynchon, prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teacher Profession, July 2005.
In Scotland the two-year probationary period that had been established for 35 years was
replaced in 2002 by a set of statutory procedures by which new teachers would progress,
over the course of one year, to the Standard for Full Registration (SFR). The Scottish
Teacher Induction Scheme (TIS), launched in 2002, introduced mandatory one-year
government-funded training placements with the aim of creating a nationally consistent
experience for new teachers. Each new teacher - known as a ‘probationer teacher’ - was to
be placed with one or two schools to undertake seven-tenths of a normal timetable, either by
filling an existing vacancy or as an additional member of staff, but in neither case with the
guarantee of a permanent post after the placement.
The new arrangements included the appointment of ‘induction supporters’ to both work with
and assess probationer teachers, and funding was allocated to provide protected time in
which this support mechanism could function. Martin and Rippon (2003) criticised this new
induction scheme’s agenda ahead of its implementation on the grounds that “it concentrated
on the easily measured and recorded aspects of induction, rather than the quality of the
mentoring relationships conducive to effective professional development for teachers”
(p.144). They foresaw that “The dual role of supporter and assessor may prove problematic
for both supporter and probationer and so this relationship will need careful handling”
(p.148). A subsequent paper by the same authors (Rippon and Martin, 2006) explores the
experiences of a small group of volunteers experiencing the new arrangements in the first
year of the scheme’s implementation. Participants saw their very public status as
probationers, and the temporary nature of their appointments, as a barrier to their full
participation in the life of the placement school; indeed, “for some new teachers their positive
identity upon completion of their pre-service training was undermined by their interactions
during the induction placement” (p.320). These Scottish teachers felt that although the TIS
system was created to support them, it also resulted in their being very publicly labelled as
new teachers and so “undermined their attempts to establish themselves as real teachers
within the school” (p.321), with results that were both distressing and demoralising.
Part of the problem reported here appears to be that the individuals concerned - and perhaps
also their colleagues and pupils - cannot fully regard such novices as ‘real teachers’ while the
probationer label is so publicly attached and their appointment only temporary. Rippon and
Martin (2006: 321) comment that while the Teacher Induction Scheme was based on
“models of good practice where teachers work together collaboratively to support one
another in continuing professional development” (CPD), in many schools the prevailing
culture is individualistic rather than collegiate, encouraging conformism and inhibiting the
acquisition by probationers of their own teacher identity. They argue that systematic use of
the ‘probationer’ label can restrict novices’ opportunities to work with colleagues on an equal
footing, and call for “the emotional need to fit in” (p.322) to be recognised as much as new
teachers’ development needs, and supported by such measures as increasing allocated
responsibilities as the placement progresses, where the new teacher is competent to fulfil
Although the circumstances of probationers in England are very different, in some respects
these comments echo Totterdell et al.’s (2002) evaluation of the impact of the 1999 statutory
regulations on the induction of NQTs in England, which found that “NQTs would welcome a
greater emphasis on collegiality” (p.141) and called for “a shift in culture throughout the
teaching profession which focuses more on sharing and teamwork”. The introduction and
impact of statutory induction requirements in this country will be discussed in the section that
5.4 Statutory Induction Requirements for NQTs in England and Wales
To help ease trainees’ transition to the status of employed professional teachers, Circular
5/99 (DfEE, 1999) sought to regulate the nature of the teaching posts to which NQTs were
appointed. This set out a number of requirements aimed to ensure that: (i) schools did not
make unreasonable demands of NQTs; and (ii) NQTs were entitled to professional
development activities. These included:
regular teaching of the same classes;
similar planning, teaching and assessment processes to those in which qualified
teachers working in substantive posts in the same school are engaged; and
a 10 per cent reduced timetable to allow for professional development activities such
as observing other teachers.
The (then) DfEE also stipulated that NQTs should not be presented with:
classes of pupils presenting mainly very challenging behaviour;
additional non-teaching responsibilities without the provision of appropriate
preparation and support; or
teaching outside the range and subject(s) for which they had been trained.
These requirements were consolidated in Circular 90/2000, which described the general
aims of statutory induction as to provide:
“all newly qualified teachers with a bridge from initial teacher education to effective
professional practice;
a foundation for long-term continuing professional development; and
well-targeted support… which in turn helps them to… make a real and sustained
contribution to school improvement.” (DfEE, 2000, para1)
These general requirements raise a number of issues. For example, do NQTs from different
ITP routes require different ‘bridges’? Does the intention to target support so as to make a
‘real and sustained contribution to school improvement’ presuppose certain forms of support
and professional development?
Although as reported above the induction aims of Circular 90/2000 might appear to focus on
the needs of the school, the statutory induction of NQTs also includes specific provision for
professional development relating to individual needs. The foundations for this are laid in the
ITP period, at the end of which trainees must complete a Career Entry Development Profile
Developing a CEDP requires trainees at the end of their ITP programme to
identify their strengths and weaknesses together with opportunities for development, and to
take part in collaborative discussion about their professional development needs. To add
the areas identified in their CEDP, on taking up their first post, NQTs need to work with th
Induction Tutor to develop an individualised learning plan. This should be revised at the end
of the induction year to identify goals for early professional development (EPD). The new
‘Induction Standards’, established by the then TTA in 2003, are integral to this process of
developing an individualised learning plan for the NQT year. These Induction Standards
follow on from the Standards for QTS which trainees must meet at the end of their ITP year.
The CEDP was introduced in 2003, and superseded the Career Entry Profile (CEP). The latter was intended
largely as a statement of new teachers’ capabilities on entering the profession, whereas the CEDP is presented
more formatively in terms of identifying professional development needs.
The Induction Standards are intended both to consolidate and to build upon the Standards
for QTS, and in doing so, present NQTs with a number of targets for development. For
example, in relation to ‘Professional Values and Practice’, the Induction Standards put a
greater emphasis upon the ability to liaise effectively with parents or carers on pupils
progress than do the Standards for QTS. Such changes in emphasis reflect the change in
professional role undergone by new teachers as they move from working with a class as a
trainee, to becoming a class teacher, and developing the personal qualities “which will
enable them to manage the emotional investment that successful teaching necessitates”
(Smethem and Adey, 2005: 199).
5.5 The role of the Induction Tutor
One effect of the CEDP and the need to meet Induction Standards is to prescribe the role of
induction tutors much more explicitly than ever before. Induction tutors, defined here as the
mentors who have responsibility for working with NQTs, now have, in addition to their
monitoring and facilitating role, an assessment role in determining whether or not NQTs meet
the Induction Standards. As Circular 582/2001 (DfEE, 2001: 26) states:
“The induction tutor should be fully aware of the requirements of the induction period…
In particular, the induction tutor should be able to make rigorous and fair judgements
about the NQT’s performance in relation to the requirements for satisfactory completion
of the induction period and to provide or co-ordinate guidance and effective support for
the NQT’s professional development.”
In addition to this, the DfEE stipulated that NQTs must be observed teaching at least once
per half term.
Thus, in some ways, the role of the induction tutor can be considered similar to the role of
mentors working with trainees on school-centred and employment-based training routes, who
are largely responsible for ensuring trainees’ professional development in relation to the
Standards for QTS, assessing them against the Standards, and acting as an advocate for the
trainee within the school.
However, as Barrington (2000) points out, “It does need to be recognised that the NQT may
feel the need for reassurance, particularly in the early stages. This could potentially create a
tension for the induction tutor in managing the balance between being supportive and being
challenging, as a critical friend” (p.19). Furthermore, Heilbronn et al. (2002) acknowledge the
tension for induction tutors in implementing a process-based support methodology
simultaneously with an outcomes-based assessment expressed in terms of induction
standards. They question how comfortably the need for accountability and a ‘once for all’
pass or fail programme can sit alongside the professional development approach that
underpins the process of review and setting of objectives. At present the tutor needs to
reconcile the role of mentor in the widest sense with that of critical assessor at the end of the
programme. As characterised by Colley (2002), this is “a dual role that clearly poses conflicts
of interest and disruption to the mentor-mentee bond”, since “mentors are cast not only as
the devoted supporter of the student teacher, but also as gatekeepers to the profession”
(p.263). Similarly, in the context of new teacher mentoring in the USA, Marable and
Raimondi (2007) urge the importance to the relationship of confidentiality, and of the mentor
not serving any supervisory role.
However, Yusko and Feiman-Nemser (2008) argue that “it is not only possible to combine
assistance and assessment, but it is impossible to separate them and still take new teachers
seriously as learners” (p.2), since only the evidence-based analysis of teaching and learning
has the power to move mentoring conversations “beyond self report and personal opinion to
a new level of analysis and objectivity” (p.11). Their qualitative study uses contrasting
induction programmes to exemplify the two approaches. In Cincinnati, mentors tasked with
combining assistance and summative assessment tended to focus on the mechanics of
behaviour management and lesson structure (perhaps, as the authors suggest, as a
response to the ‘high stakes nature’ of the process), whilst a team of ‘advisors’ observed in
Santa Cruz appeared more able to “get inside the intellectual and practical challenges of
teaching” (Yusko and Feiman-Nemser, p.10) because they were operating on the basis of
relationships based on trust. However, the authors also observed that at times the desire
amongst the Santa Cruz mentors to build such trust appeared to inhibit them from giving
advice to mentees, or to make them unwilling to confront unacceptable practice.
Nevertheless, as Smethem and Adey (2005) warn, “[u]nless an atmosphere of trust and
openness is engendered as part of a collaborative culture… NQTs will remain highly
vulnerable, positioned between the conflicting issues of assessment, monitoring and support
inherent in statutory induction” (p.196). This focus on the mentoring relationship is echoed by
Martin and Rippon’s (2003) comments on induction provision in Scotland, that “the dilemma
facing probationers and supporters… would be less problematic if both were skilled in
handling feedback, and setting a context where criticism is welcomed and sought out, rather
than something to be feared” (p.150), since “[t]he likelihood that the probationer will hear,
understand and accept and act upon valid criticism… is related to the context within which it
is given” (p.152). As well as the training of induction supporters in the techniques required for
effective feedback (including appropriate non-verbal communication), they advocate staff
development opportunities that are developmental and interactive, and that include role-play.
Heilbronn et al. (2002) stress the need for induction tutors to be adequately supported in
terms of preparation, resources and dedicated professional time; if they are not, as Colley
(2002) suggests, the result is “a situation in which resentment might understandably arise
and rebound” (p.258) on those in their care. Even without such extreme results, if the duties
of induction tutors become too onerous, there is a risk that they will meet their statutory
obligations at the expense of less mandatory input. In common with school-based mentors
during ITP, they have an important role to play in supporting the socialisation of new
teachers into the culture of the host school, as well as their professional development; and it
is perhaps even more critical that they encourage them to take up a collegial approach, since
habits formed now may be hard to change. Writing in the US, Fletcher and Barrett (2004:
322) cite findings by Kardos (2003) that while 65 per cent of a sample of new teachers
believed they should collaborate with colleagues, “48 per cent of novices agreed that ‘I
usually plan and teach alone’, and only 50 per cent agreed that ‘I usually discuss teaching
strategies with another teacher or teachers’ ”. However, a majority of the 70 Californian
novices studied by Fletcher and Barrett, who were receiving weekly mentoring input, agreed
that overall ‘my mentor has helped me to effectively work collaboratively with other teachers
at my school’ (71%); ‘my mentor helped me to effectively get additional help from my
principal for challenging situations’ (77%); and ‘my mentor has helped me to effectively
network… with other beginning teachers at seminars’ (81%). (Fletcher and Barrett 2004:
322). Mentors were also said to have helped to promote positive relationships between their
mentees and all levels of the school hierarchy.
Another mentor function reported in Fletcher and Barrett’s (2004) study as valued by over 95
per cent of respondents, was to help them “to effectively work with students of diverse
linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds”, an important aspect of school culture in the
challenging circumstances of the district from which the sample was drawn. This has
particular relevance to the UK given research findings on trainees’ and NQTs’ concerns
about meeting the needs of different kinds of students, especially children with English as an
additional language or from minority ethnic groups (Capel, 2001; TTA, 2003; TDA, 2008).
Since both ‘collegiality and effective teamwork’ have been identified by head teachers as
major factors in retaining high quality teaching staff in challenging schools (Bush, 2005), the
role of the induction tutor in assisting new teachers to interact with colleagues, and to
understand the social and cultural needs of their students, is potentially of central rather than
peripheral importance in reducing teacher attrition.
Whisnant et al. (2005: 7) comment that much of the literature on the subject has moved on
from focusing on the mentor’s function in supporting “the practical, short-term and often
emotional needs of the beginning teacher” to exploring “the potential of mentoring to serve as
a tool to strengthen teachers’ capacity throughout their careers” and to advance agendas for
educational reform (echoing the DfEE’s aim to provide NQTs with “well-targeted support…
which in turn helps them to... make a real and sustained contribution to school improvement”,
DfEE, 2000, para 1). More recently still, some authors have warned of the potential damage
to be done by mentors who subscribe to poor and / or outdated models of practice, and some
have questioned whether veteran teachers will have the necessary knowledge and
communication skills to move on the education debate. Proposals for the professional
development of mentors are the natural outcome of such research, based on the premise
that “mentors need the same kind of ‘supported induction and opportunities for ongoing
learning’ that new teachers do” (Santa Cruz New Teacher Project, 2004; cited in Whisnant et
al., 2005: 8). Such induction, it is suggested, should feature the same three important
components as mentoring: professional development, a learning community, and peer
5.6 The impact of induction arrangements on NQTs’ experiences
Whilst, as we shall see, some writers have expressed reservations about the introduction of
statutory induction, in general research suggests that the changes have prompted
improvements in induction provision. Some of the findings from early studies suggest a need
for the new arrangements to bed down, indeed some appear to demonstrate this process in
action. Barrington (2000), investigating the perspectives of NQTs and their induction tutors in
one LEA during the first year of the new statutory requirements, found the induction tutors
more apprehensive about the induction year than the NQTs, and suggests that this could
possibly be because tutors had been appointed only recently, whereas NQTs were likely to
have received information about induction during ITP. Whilst over the first half term both
groups became more confident, the NQTs remained more confident overall than their
induction tutors. However, whilst the majority of induction tutors found the (then) CEP itself
useful in putting together an induction programme, on the grounds that it offered a starting
point for development and setting initial targets, the vast majority of NQTs perceived it as
less useful, usually because their needs had changed once they had entered the profession.
Similarly, Barton (2004) found that the majority of new teachers participating in her qualitative
study did not consider the CEP to have played an important role in their induction. One
teacher out of the cohort of 53 appeared to have experienced exemplary use of her CEP:
“We set individual targets and they were reviewed with your line manager. I had
targets that were subject-related as well as general ones. In the autumn term and the
spring term they were checked and signed off by me, the induction tutor and my head
of department. Some of the courses fed into the targets. It was really well monitored”
In contrast, however:
“A number of teachers referred to the Profile either being filled in briefly, in a
tokenistic fashion, or at the end of the year. One teacher claimed never to have seen
it… When faced with the reality of a full timetable, a form group and cover – as many
new teachers seemingly are – the CEP is regarded merely as a necessary ‘formality’
” (p.25).
Harrison (2002) explored the induction provision made for two cohorts of NQTs – one
completing their induction in the year prior to Circular 5/99 taking effect, and one in the
academic year 1999/2000. Overall, Harrison noted positive shifts in induction procedures in
connection with the introduction of statutory requirements for induction. An increase in non-
See also the programme reported by Good and Bennett (2005), discussed in Section 5.7 below.
contact time for NQTs appeared to be the most common benefit arising from this. Aspects of
mentoring support were also considered to have improved for the majority of NQTs, largely
through increased provision for the observation of NQTs’ teaching, and weekly review
meetings between NQTs and established staff. Harrison (2002) has suggested that the
requirements laid down in Circular 5/99 have helped to spread what was already becoming
‘good practice’. She found that where NQTs had positive induction experiences prior to
Circular 5/99, they had been working in schools which showed concern for professional
development and provided programmes of regular observation and feedback.
One of the more recent and comprehensive studies of induction arrangements in schools
and of NQTs’ experiences of induction, is that conducted by Totterdell et al. (2002). This
involved a large scale survey and additional case study work to examine the extent to which
the requirements of Circulars 5/99 and 90/2000 (DfEE) (set out above) were being met in
schools. Totterdell et al. reported that “some respondents had an excessive workload and
unreasonable demands made on them” (p.89). Of the NQTs studied:
75 per cent reported that they had been given some non-teaching responsibility
50 per cent thought they had taught classes with challenging behaviour
37 per cent of secondary NQTs stated that they had taught outside their subject
20 per cent felt they had not been given a reduced timetable
10 per cent said they had taught pupils outside the age range for which they had
been trained.
Whilst the data collected by Totterdell et al. suggest that in a number of instances some of
the statutory induction requirements were not being met, they also highlighted those
induction activities which NQTs found particularly helpful, notably having their teaching
observed and receiving feedback, meeting with induction tutors and observing other
teachers. In their national evaluation of statutory induction Heilbronn et al. (2002) also report,
more specifically, that the activity rated most highly by all respondents was lesson
observation (both of and by the NQT) that included a dissection of the processes and
practices observed in conjunction with an experienced mentor. NQTs also valued being set
individual objectives that arose from such formative lesson observation, and were then
followed up in regular mentoring sessions. Interestingly, induction tutors also rated this as the
most cost effective induction activity, whilst the NQTs studied by Smethem and Adey (2005),
who had experienced statutory induction, reported that not only did they benefit from
feedback after they were observed teaching, but in addition their confidence received a
welcome boost when they observed other teachers sharing some of the challenges that they
encountered themselves in class.
About two-thirds of the NQTs studied by Totterdell et al. (2002) reported that the process of
setting objectives and action plans relating to their CEPs had been useful (15%) or very
useful (48%), while a similar number categorised these action plans and objectives as
challenging. However, despite a statutory requirement to review the learning objectives
identified in their CEP on a half-termly basis, over the course of a year the numbers of NQTs
doing so decreased. Some reported that the objectives set were too easy, while others
argued that the CEP represented “unnecessary extra paperwork” (p.90).
Across their (24) case-study schools, Totterdell et al. (2002) found that the ‘vast majority’ of
head teachers and induction tutors believed that induction provision had been improved and
that the induction process was easing the transition between the ITP and NQT years, as well
as providing a foundation for subsequent professional development. The authors also
suggest that alongside improving schools’ provision for NQTs, statutory induction may also
have brought about benefits for the whole school. For example, becoming involved in the
induction process was seen by some to have encouraged staff to reflect upon their own
practice and to keep up-to-date with policy matters. However, they also report that: “NQTs
were less positive than induction tutors and head teachers about whether the induction
process had eased the transition between training and the rest of their career and
professional development” (p.100). This attitude is exemplified by the comment of a
respondent to Totterdell et al.’s (2002) study that “I do think my teaching has developed
hugely throughout my first years, but I don’t think that this had any relation to the induction
process. You learn as you teach and make mistakes” (p.86). The authors’ recommendation
that in induction “the emphasis should be on arrangements that are self-directed rather than
imposed” (p.143) offers a possible means of countering this sense of detachment.
Some criticism of statutory arrangements for induction has related to the amount of funding
made available to schools to support NQTs, and to the perceived increasingly bureaucratic
nature of induction arrangements. Tickle (2001) has argued that while CEPs (and more
recently CEDPs) are based on the identification of needs and review of professional
development, they are assessment-led. Tickle suggests that this leaves little room for
professional development other than that which explicitly builds upon the Standards for QTS
- or in the light of more recent legislation, addresses the Induction Standards. Research by
Williams (2003), which looked at NQTs’ experiences post Circulars 5/99 and 90/2000, may
lend some support to Tickle’s argument. Williams found that those NQTs who were most
widely involved in ‘the life of the school’ tended also to express the highest levels of personal
satisfaction and commitment to professional growth. She argues that further improvements in
induction quality are more likely to be achieved through the promotion of non-formal learning
of a nature that is not amenable to legislation but rather relates to school ethos. Accordingly,
she proposes that the time gained by the NQTs’ ten per cent reduction in teaching need not
be limited to formal deliberative learning such as planned purposeful reading and explicit
CPD activities, but could be spent equally valuably in tasks such as catching up with
preparation, marking, and report writing. Williams suggests that by thus helping NQTs to
manage their workloads, the provision of non-contact time could also free-up time for them to
engage in reflective thinking about their practice. In addition, she emphasises the value of
spontaneous meeting and ‘chat’ as support mechanisms.
Totterdell et al. (2002) also found that in general NQTs deemed what one described as “the
support and encouragement” aspect of their induction (p.98) more important than
assessment and professional development courses. Similarly, Hardy (1999) warns that if
teacher attrition is to be reduced, induction programmes must have the flexibility to address
both the problems common to many first-time teachers and the specific and emerging needs
of individuals; and must also assist in developing the “positive perceptions of self” (p121) that
underpin successful classroom practice. Moreover, as the ‘ecology’ of any one school will
impact on the development of the new teacher, support must also enable them to see their
initial experiences in perspective, and progress beyond merely learning to cope. Any
induction programme must operate both at a personal level, by addressing the specific needs
of the NQT, and at a general level, by providing an environment “where thinking and talking
about teaching will become central” (p.116) and by presenting teaching as a satisfying and
worthwhile career. Skills learned during the first year need to be clarified and analysed so
that induction becomes one stage in the professional training continuum. Its purpose should
not be to help new teachers to settle in and adjust to the immediate demands of teaching, but
rather to extend them professionally. This can be of long-term importance: in her study of
new teacher retention in priority subjects, Barton (2004) comments that cross-tabulating
responses to the questionnaire items ‘If you are continuing to teach, how long do you think
you will remain in teaching?’ and ‘I had a good induction programme’ “suggests that the
quality of the induction programme may play a significant role in determining the longevity of
new teachers’ careers” (p.25).
Some LAs are beginning to offer their own provision to supplement induction in supporting
NQTs during and beyond their first year. One optional accredited programme designed jointly
by four LAs and their University partners in the West Midlands was taken up by a quarter of
all NQTs across the four authorities. An evaluation by Rhodes et al. (2005) found that it had
achieved its main objective of promoting critical reflective practice amongst the new teachers
who participated. Analysis of the data suggested that of the 58 NQTs who returned
questionnaires (a response rate of 45%), the vast majority indicated that they were motivated
to participate in the programme by a desire to develop reflective practice, alongside the aims
of furthering their career progression and gaining postgraduate credits; ‘access to helpful
information’ and helping to meet induction standards were also important to around two-
thirds. Interestingly, the face-to-face support provided by university tutors was found to be
more helpful than their online support, and paper-based materials considered easier to follow
than online materials, while the programme’s website was not considered to have been
particularly useful.
Rhodes et al.’s (2005) evaluation focused in part on the management and administration
facets of the programme, and found indications that in some cases the level of support
received from induction tutors and head teachers was limited, due partly to doubts about the
programme and partly to time factors and concerns about workload. The EPPI review (2004)
of literature (Totterdell et al., 2004: 1) sought to “shed light on the impact of induction
programmes” on new teachers in relation to enhancing teaching expertise, professional
development, job satisfaction and retention rates. The authors report a number of findings
which include, for example, the need for good induction practice to include effective training
and professional support for all role-groups, notably new teachers, mentors and principals.
They conclude that in addition to a reduced work-load and support in planning goal-setting
and review, appropriate induction should be seen to comprehend such measures as mentor
selection, provision for preparation and release-time, and incentives for induction tutors.
Similarly, Barrington’s (2000) study of the parallel perspectives of Primary NQTs and their
induction tutors leads him to recommend clearer guidance on the evidence required to show
that NQTs are meeting induction standards, which would help to reduce the workload for
tutors and NQTs alike.
As early as the late 1990’s Hardy (1999) called for training in the skills required to collaborate
and communicate with colleagues, not only for the teachers supporting NQTs, but for new
teachers themselves. This emphasis on the need to support and promote dialogue between
new teachers and their supporters is echoed by Martin and Rippon in their studies of the
hopes and expectations of Scottish student teachers nearing the end of their training, and of
the experience of teacher induction. Although Scotland has its own form of provision for new
teachers, their findings have wider relevance, especially in their stress on the more personal
aspects of the induction process. These authors highlight the importance of “help[ing] both
probationers and their supporters to be aware of and understand the importance of the
quality of the relationship, the attitudes and behaviour of those involved, and the
interpersonal skills required” (Martin and Rippon (2003: 160), and call for “less concentration
on the mechanics of induction and more on the process itself”, including “specific guidance in
giving feedback” (Martin and Rippon 2005: 542).
Another Scottish study by Draper et al. (1997), of 193 teachers who had just completed their
two-year probation, found that teachers’ experiences of early professional development
during this period appeared to have improved considerably when compared with the findings
from a previous study carried out in 1988-1991. The authors argue that this improvement
was a result of initiatives and resources introduced by the General Teaching Council for
Scotland with the aim of improving probation and emphasising its developmental role.
However, their more recent survey also uncovered inequalities in satisfaction between
teachers with different employment patterns: respondents experiencing interrupted periods of
work reported lower levels of satisfaction with their induction than those in continuous
employment. Since the period referred to in this study extends beyond the first year’s
teaching, these findings will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 6, in the context of
teachers’ early professional development.
5.7 Positive and negative experiences during the first year’s teaching
The range of support outlined in the section above may well be needed throughout the
induction year. A wide range of studies confirm a picture of the first year’s teaching as both
physically exhausting and emotionally draining, and where this is exacerbated by isolation
the effects may be particularly severe. Many of the Portuguese NQTs surveyed by Flores
(2004) described their first year as qualified teachers as a largely negative experience, and
for some this led to feelings of powerlessness and thoughts of giving up. Similarly, a second-
year teacher participating in the NFER study of early professional development (EPD) (Moor
et al., 2005: 29) commented that “The previous year was very, very difficult. And I was
feeling quite disillusioned and a little bit worried about the future”; and when asked “Is EPD
making a difference to your desire to stay in or leave the teaching profession?” replied “It has
in that it has boosted me up. It’s reassured me about my own skills and my own values as a
teacher, so yes”, once again suggesting a negative link between a ‘bad’ first year’s teaching
and retention in the profession.
The need for reassurance on the part of new teachers is a recurrent feature in qualitative
studies of the induction year. In the words of another NQT cited in Moor et al. “At the
beginning you don’t have that much confidence that you’re doing it right” (p.30). Hoy and
Spero (2005), in a study of changes in teacher efficacy (defined as a future-oriented
judgement that has to do with an individual’s perception of competence rather than its actual
level), cite Bandura (1997), who argues that it is self-assurance in the face of difficulty that
determines the good or poor use of ability, while self-doubt can negate skill. Since he
suggests that self-perceived efficacy may be most easily influenced early in the learning
process, the first years of teaching could be critical for its development in the longer term.
Research shows strongly emotional experiences both positive and negative (already
discussed above and in the context of ITP) as continuing to impact on many beginning
teachers throughout the induction year. This may be particularly important if, as Day et al.
(2006: 143) argue, “emotions play a key role in the construction of identity”, and “there is an
unavoidable link between professional and personal, cognitive and emotional identities, if
only because the overwhelming evidence is that teaching demands significant personal
investment of these”.
Evidence from the teachers who participated in Day et al.’s study of efficacy “identified a
close association between their sense of positive, stable identity and their self-efficacy and
agency - their belief that they could ‘make a difference’ to the learning and achievement of
their pupils” (Day et al., 2006: 248). Mulholland and Wallace (2001) also argue that
experiences during student teaching and the induction year can be among the most powerful
influences on the development of teachers’ sense of efficacy, while a study of first-year
teachers interviewed in Israel (Friedman, 2000) identified a range of sources of stress which
were also threats to self-perceived efficacy: criticism by colleagues, isolation, work overload,
lack of recognition or reward, and inappropriate training.
Work overload is a factor frequently mentioned in qualitative studies of teaching, and the
induction year is no exception. However, as Barton (2004: 4) comments,
“While some of the negative factors identified by the research may be seen as
common to all teachers, it is suggested that new staff may be more vulnerable than
more experienced staff. Their low status in the school may encourage their line
managers and senior managers to impose short-term deadlines on them and to give
them unreasonable timetables. New teachers are clearly aware of the vulnerability of
their position; they are ostensibly reluctant to confide in senior colleagues when they
experience difficulties.”
As an example of this reluctance she cites the comment of one teacher that “you don’t want
to appear like you’re struggling [be]cause you don’t want them to think you’re not capable of
doing it. I absolutely sank in the first year” (p.26). In addition, as Smethem and Adey (2005)
point out, while induction has brought about some improvements in the experiences of
NQTs, “it is the workload which is the primary cause of attrition” (p.198); in some ways this
has worsened since the introduction of the statutory induction programme, through the
growth of a climate of ‘accountability’ which can foster anxiety and burnout.
Such burnout is characterised by Goddard et al. (2006: 287) as “a chronic state of physical,
emotional and mental exhaustion that arises in personnel from the cumulative demands of
their work”, and may be present from a very early stage in a teacher’s career. The authors
note that Fimian and Blanton (1987) had found burnout rates for less experienced and
trainee groups at almost identical levels to those reported by the more experienced.
Goddard et al.’s (2006) own findings from a longitudinal survey conducted in Australia also
suggest that the syndrome may well begin to develop during ITP, since “the mean levels of
burnout reported after only six weeks’ employment were much higher than expected” (p.869),
even though the researchers took care to distinguish what they describe as early career
burnout from the “initial overwhelm, reality shock and need for support” (p.859) experienced
by many NQTs.
In contrast to the burnout described by Goddard et al., Day et al. (2006) in their study of
variations in teachers’ work, lives and effectiveness place great stress on the concept of
resilience, which they define as ‘the ability of an individual to withstand or recover quickly
from difficult conditions related to self-efficacy’ (p.50). While their study covers the entire
trajectory of teachers’ professional lives, resilience could have particular importance during
the first few years of teaching when a sense of efficacy in the classroom is still developing.
Oberski et al. (1999) offered an overview of the first-year experiences of 42 NQTs as part of
their evaluation of a two-year university course for beginning teachers. Participants were
asked to identify their major achievements and concerns after their first month’s teaching,
and to assess these again at the end of the first year. Broadly similar opinions were voiced
by primary and secondary teachers, and the range of concerns remained similar over the
year, with discipline featuring most strongly, followed by assessment, differentiation and
workload. After a year slightly fewer expressed concern about marking and classroom
management. Interviews included some indirect references to concerns about problematic
relationships with colleagues. In the initial survey the achievements most frequently identified
related to relationships with pupils (50%) or colleagues (60%); these still featured after a year
but had been joined and largely overtaken by enjoying teaching, meeting the demands of the
job, classroom management and, most of all, by the sense of survival. Evidence from the
interviews confirmed that establishing good relationships with pupils and colleagues had fed
into ‘achievements’ identified at a later stage, especially enjoying teaching. Such factors may
remain influential throughout a teacher’s working life: Day et al. (2006) found that positive
relationships with pupils were central to teachers’ perceptions of their own effectiveness, and
also report a correlation between teachers with ‘positive, stable identities’ and supportive
While most of the 24 participants in Oberski et al.’s (1999) study who responded to a
questionnaire survey had received mentoring during their first year, their perceptions of its
success varied considerably. Some reported disenchantment, and none of the 24 identified
mentoring as the most useful form of support received. Again, some felt inhibited by the
requirement to be open with senior members of staff “about what might be perceived as
shortcomings” (p.145). In primary schools, where the mentor was usually the head teacher or
deputy, more teachers reported dissatisfaction, often with the inconsistency of support
received, or for reasons suggested in the comment of one NQT that “[t]he mentorship
programme didn’t work here because my mentor is the head teacher. He was very amenable
but not very available… it’s quite hard, I think… to tell things to senior management” (p.145).
This could suggest that NQTs may be more inhibited and more reluctant to open up about
any difficulties when their mentors have a more exalted status within the school.
Another important issue in mentor identity is that some common factor should link the
teaching experiences of mentor and NQT: Johnson et al. (2005; cited in Whisnant et al.,
2005) found that, in the U.S.A, mentoring appeared most effective when new teachers taught
the same subject as their mentor. By contrast, Whisnant et al. (2005) also draw attention to
disquieting variations in American mentoring arrangements reported by Johnson et al.
(2004), who found evidence of what these authors term ‘a support gap’ between the
provision made by schools serving high- and low-income students: for example, “61 per cent
of teachers in high-income schools were matched with mentors at the same grade level as
compared with only 28 per cent in low-income schools” (Whisnant et al., 2005: 21). As a
result, Johnson et al. (2004) suggest that “new teachers working in schools with large
numbers of low-income students often do not receive the support needed to do their jobs
well” (Whisnant et al., 2005: 22). Since Johnson et al. (2005) identify a link between
mentoring and increased new teacher satisfaction and retention, it could be desirable for
British research to investigate whether such a support gap exists in this country, and what
measures might help to alleviate or prevent it. That it does exist in some measure is
suggested by Hutchings et al.’s (2006) finding that the quality of school support received by
Teach First recruits varied widely, especially in terms of subject mentors (who were often
unwilling recruits with no timetable allocation for the responsibility), and their related
suggestion that the challenging schools participating in the programme may have found it
more difficult than others to provide adequate mentoring for their trainees, who even in their
first, unqualified year were undertaking the same teaching workload as an NQT.
Another study reported in Whisnant et al.’s literature review describes a programme that
sought to cultivate both mentor / mentor and novice / novice communities (Good and
Bennett, 2005). It brought new teachers from different environments together in the neutral
setting of a university in-service centre. As a result they “recognized the commonality of their
concerns and felt less isolated and better understood” (Whisnant et al., 2005: 8). The
informal needs assessment led by veteran mentors at the end of each session enabled
novice teacher participants to make known their needs, which were incorporated into the
next month’s programme (not only adapting the programme to their needs, but also giving
them a sense of empowerment). In addition, topics raised and needs expressed were fed
back both formally and informally to the university, together with their possible implications
for the pre-service curriculum.
Oberski et al. (1999), cited Whisnant et al. (2005: 8) also found that new teachers valued the
opportunity to ‘recognize the commonality of their concerns’: LA support (usually via the
advisory service) was valued most by the NQTs in their study for the opportunities it provided
to be away from the school setting, and, especially, to make contact with other new teachers
to share ‘war stories’. Similarly, most of the first-time teachers studied by Barton (2004)
favoured the idea of meeting together with other NQTs to share ideas and experiences,
especially since much of their support in school was derived from the presence of others new
to the profession. This would, it was claimed by one teacher, help to combat the isolation of
the induction year, obviously more of a problem when there are very few, if any, other NQTs
in the school (see also Mitchell et al., 2007). One interesting element within the Teach First
approach was the deliberate placing of at least four trainees in the same school in order to
add peer group support to the other forms of support provided. Participants responding to
Hutchings et al.’s (2006) evaluation of the scheme gave high ratings to the support they
received from other Teach First trainees, with 56 per cent of the second cohort finding this
‘very effective’ (p.44).
Oberski et al. (1999) conclude that new teachers are best able to establish good and
potentially useful relationships with new colleagues and others who can offer support where
they are free to identify and form their own links. Over half of participants in their study
expressed their appreciation of the informal support received from colleagues, and this was
borne out in the interviews. Such support was valued for its immediacy, for the interest
shown and the professional advice it could unlock. Those who had to work in more
unsupportive settings greatly regretted the lack of it.
5.8 Conclusions
What research has yet to consider is whether NQTs coming from different ITP routes tend to
have different needs during their induction year or whether the induction arrangements meet
the needs of these different cohorts to the same extent. Koestsier and Wubbels (1995), in a
study of ITP provision in the Netherlands, suggested that those programmes which allowed
“the student teacher [to] operate independently in a situation closely approximating that of a
beginning teacher” (p.343) were most positive in helping student teachers to make the
transition to beginning teacher status, and, moreover, aided retention during the first years of
a teaching career. This, in turn, raises the question of whether trainees in England pursuing
school-centred or employment-based training routes will be better able to adjust to their role
as newly qualified teachers than those following HEI-based routes, and more able to pursue
CPD opportunities proactively. Conversely, could it be the case that some NQTs from
school-centred and employment-based routes will lose out on induction provision because
they are considered to be more familiar with a full-time teaching role? Much of the existing
research on NQT experience focuses on young teachers, indeed assumes that NQTs will
almost by definition be young; but do older entrants to the profession share the same
problems and challenges, or do they bring different ‘baggage’ with them as they enter the
profession, and encounter other sources of stress – or, indeed, of satisfaction?
The answers to such questions will be of particular interest in relation to those beginner
teachers (who are most likely to come from employment-based routes) who take up an NQT
post in the school that trained them. As we pointed out in Section 3.2, there has also been
little research into, and no conclusive evidence of, possible relationships between training
route followed and the teaching capability of beginning teachers.
Experiences of the induction year are dependent on many factors, including the induction
arrangements made by schools, individual induction tutor-NQT relationships, and how NQTs
draw on their ITP to interpret their experiences as beginning teachers. The literature
indicates that where schools make arrangements for regular observation of trainees,
‘feedback’ sessions, sufficient non-contact time; where schools have an ethos which
encourages professional growth; and where they provide conditions for induction tutors to
both pursue their own professional development for the role as well as carry out the role,
then they can aid NQT retention and provide bridges both from ITP to the NQT years, and
from induction to early professional development. Such positive outcomes, where achieved,
may well enhance teacher retention and motivation in the longer term.
Chapter 6: Experiences of teaching and early professional
development during the post-induction years
6.1 Introduction
The end of the induction year sees also the end of statutory formal provision for new
teachers: from now on most will be reliant for their future support and development on their
individual schools, on their local authorities, and on themselves as learners (perhaps via
other organisations such as universities, where beginning teachers may choose to undertake
additional qualifications). The resulting variety of experience may help to explain why
relatively few studies have focused on the second and subsequent early years of teaching,
though much may be gleaned from research with a wider remit. One complicating factor is
the broad age range of beginning teachers: it is often impossible to identify research data
relating to the recently qualified unless findings have been broken down specifically to
provide this information, since neither age nor years in teaching can serve as a reliable
For the purposes of the Becoming a Teacher research we have taken the ‘early professional
development’ (EPD) time-span to cover the period from induction to the end of teachers’
fourth year in post, the period covered in our primary data generation. However, we
recognise that research publications on teachers’ early professional development may well
limit their field of reference to the second and third years in post, or extend it to include the
induction year, whilst other work draws no distinction between EPD and continuing
professional development (CPD). As a result, the body of available evidence that relates
specifically to this phase of beginning teachers’ experience is unusually limited. Fortunately,
however, those publications that do focus on the early years of teaching form a
complementary group, in which the findings of a relatively limited number of large-scale
studies are illuminated by rich detail from a range of smaller qualitative investigations. In
combination they provide a useful base of broad but contextualised evidence on the
professional development of recently qualified teachers in the post-induction years.
6.2 The post-induction experiences of beginning teachers
In a study of sixteen New Zealand teachers at the end of their second year in the profession,
Grudnoff and Tuck (2002) explore the idea of becoming a teacher as a process of
acculturation. While participants’ responses in this and an earlier related survey suggested
that a significant component of learning in the first year was focused on coming to
understand the culture of the school, the second-year teachers said they could now
comprehend the nature and function of school policies and systems. They also reported
using time more effectively and being better able to prioritise, and perceived themselves as
having more realistic expectations, as being more responsive to pupils’ learning needs, and
more flexible. Supporting evidence for their development in both school- and classroom-
related areas was provided by their ‘supervising teachers’ (or mentors), who praised the
second-year teachers for their collaboration with colleagues and their classroom
The sense of personal improvement reported here is echoed in a small scale qualitative
study by Smethem and Adey (2005) comparing the experiences of novice teachers who had,
and had not, received statutory induction.
“By the end of year 2 with the focus of attention now firmly aligned on the pupils and
their learning and development, post-induction NQTs strongly felt improvements in
methodology and practice; the result of continued self-analysis and trial and error,
reflection ... their own reading and the impact of INSET. [One participant]
acknowledged the ‘conscious effort’ to implement changes, to avoid ploughing a
familiar furrow” (p.193).
The authors comment that only participating NQTs who had experienced statutory induction
made such comments on the process of reflection, complementing the findings of Totterdell
et al. (2002) that “nearly two thirds of induction tutors thought that induction had substantially
improved continuity and progression into Continuing Professional Development” and “a
higher number of NQTs than induction tutors (75%) thought that induction had provided a
‘bridge’ into early professional development” (Totterdell et al., 2002: 105).
A similar awareness of progress (though not in this case linked to induction) is reported by
Hammond and Cartwright (2003) in their paper on the third-year experiences of a small
cohort of ICT teachers, interviewed as part of a larger longitudinal study. All nine
interviewees identified areas of improvement in their teaching during their third year, though
this was less marked than the year before and three felt they were ‘hitting a plateau’ (p.214).
Participants reported a greater sense of authority in class: they felt that they had become
increasingly skilled and confident, thanks to their having learned from previous mistakes, and
that they had built up a ‘mental store’ of knowledge supported by an accumulated bank of
resources and an increased ability to improvise. The authors see this as the result of a
virtuous cycle of experience, with the teachers reflecting and amending their approach in
order to communicate more effectively with their students. Similarly, their sense of increased
confidence resulted from another virtuous cycle leading to more confidence and greater
acceptance by pupils. As a result of these changes, “the job feels easier” to teachers in their
third year (p.222), releasing the time and energy for them to take on new roles, and
promoting a wider view of the school along with greater awareness of personal career
progression. However, some also reported a sense of impending boredom or stagnation, to
which their eventual reaction would probably be to change in some way, either by moving
schools, redefining their current position, or taking on new responsibilities. Hammond and
Cartwright (2003) comment that those who have received support and encouragement are
more likely to feel optimistic about the future, and to expect to take on new challenges.
Conversely, others may still derive satisfaction from classroom work but yet begin to feel
dissatisfied with teaching as a career, sometimes because of discontent with senior
Barton’s (2004) study for the then TTA on the retention of priority subject teachers during
their first three years of service also highlighted the satisfaction obtained from contact with
pupils. In responses to the questionnaire statement ‘I enjoy(ed) spending time with children
in the classroom’, 20 respondents (43% of those who answered this question) agreed
strongly, and a further 19 (40%) agreed. Barton also found that a significant proportion of
new teachers clearly enjoyed forming relationships with children in a pastoral capacity, a
factor often raised in interviews:
“It’s the relationships that make teaching appealing as well as the actual subject
knowledge. Sometimes I see that actually I wish I didn’t teach languages and I wish I
taught something else. But the pastoral aspect really makes up for that. Becoming a
form tutor made a real difference” (p.13).
6.3 Early Professional Development
Although it is quite common for authors on the first year of teaching to call for closer attention
to be paid to the training offered to recently qualified teachers in the years immediately
succeeding induction, to date there has been relatively little research dealing specifically with
post-induction early professional development (EPD). Moreover, as well as continuing to
learn as beginning teachers, most of the recently qualified will also be participating in
professional development activities alongside more experienced colleagues. For both of
these reasons it is useful to look at wider studies on teachers’ professional development to
supplement the available literature on EPD.
However, where research on teachers’ views is reported solely in terms of age rather than
years of service it can be very difficult to identify findings relating to beginning teachers as a
discrete group, especially within accounts of large-scale research. The report by Hustler et
al. (2003) on teachers’ perceptions of continuing professional development (CPD) offers an
example of this problem. The quantitative component of the study draws on the responses of
a large sample of teachers, 657 of whom (27% of the total) were in their first five years of
service: a group, then, that included both teachers in their induction year and some with
considerably more experience. Whilst at times the subset of NQTs is singled out for
comment, at others the under-25s are considered as a group; but since almost a quarter of
participating teachers with five years’ experience or less were aged 35 and over, the two
subsets cannot be equated.
Nevertheless this report does offer some interesting observations on the views of many
beginning teachers. While Hustler et al. (2003) point out that the culture of CPD can vary
both between and within schools, and also between individual teachers, they do identify
some conclusions that apply particularly to young teachers and NQTs. In general younger
teachers appeared to take a more positive attitude towards continuing professional
development; while both younger teachers and NQTs broadly accepted ‘systemic CPD
needs’ as reasonable, they also called for more prioritisation of their own needs, and were
active in seeking out more personally relevant opportunities. This proactive approach
contrasts favourably with Purdon’s (2001) finding that most participants in her study of 50
recently qualified Scottish teachers appeared to hold “a deficit model of CPD…where the
primary purpose is to compensate for a lack of knowledge or skills…as opposed to
expanding existing horizons or developing new ones for the good of the individual teacher,
the institution and the profession as a whole” (p.114).
However, some recent research on EPD in England suggests that in the move to follow the
DfES (2005) guidance on designing CPD around targeted pupil / student outcomes, and with
an increasing emphasis on collegiate and cross-school rather than departmental teams (see,
for example, Cordingley (CUREE) (2008), there is a risk that some generic or specific needs
of recently qualified teachers could be overlooked. Many respondents to Hustler et al.’s
(2003) study of teachers’ perceptions of CPD saw school development needs as taking
precedence over those of the individual professional, or complained of a ‘one size fits all’
approach. As Purdon (2001: 110) points out, “[n]ew teachers, by the very nature of their
‘newness’, are less likely to have their voices heard than other more established groups”.
In the detailed case studies that feature in the (2008) report by the Centre for the Use of
Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE), there are just two brief references to
individual NQTs and one to a ‘young teacher’, though this is perhaps neither surprising nor
significant given that the investigative framework used to structure the research makes no
mention of beginning or recently qualified teachers. The authors found that in those schools
studied that took a strategic approach to CPD planning, “needs identification processes were
focused around student learning and related teacher learning, irrespective of teacher
characteristics” (Cordingley, 2008: 28). However, alongside this, and arising out of teachers’
own expressed concerns for professional development opportunities related to their subject
or specialism, the study found “a growing appreciation of the need to address teachers’
professional identity and … expertise through the personalisation of CPD” (Cordingley, 2008:
Hustler et al. (2003) recommend that the government should ring-fence more resources for
personal or individual CPD, and activities where school and individual needs are interrelated:
this could have particular relevance for mature entrants to the profession, where a failure to
identify and take into account the skills and experience they bring with them could lead to
missed opportunities for customised early professional development. This emphasis on the
value of ‘customised’ EPD is echoed by Oberski et al. (1999) when they point out the
potential for EPD courses to use personal achievements identified by the beginning teachers
participating as a ‘springboard’ for further developing their success while keeping the focus
rooted in their own experience.
Hustler et al. (2003) also note that for all except late career stage teachers, positive feelings
about CPD were quite often associated with an awareness of career progression
opportunities to which CPD had been and could be linked. However, the authors suggest that
many who have been teaching for around four to six years may feel a lack of direction, and
so need particular support in identifying how individual professional development can relate
to their future career paths in the profession.
In a discussion of current theories on teaching and learning, Kwakman (2003) draws
attention to a mismatch between these and the traditional approach that she sees as
continuing to dominate teachers’ own professional development. She argues that learning is
now viewed as a collaborative and context-bound activity through which “students learn best
when they have the opportunity to actively construct their own knowledge” (McLaughlin,
1997; cited in Kwakman, 2003: 149), and which calls for a pedagogical approach in which
the teacher’s role is to create a stimulating learning environment and to facilitate student
learning. However, Kwakman endorses the view of Bransford et al. (1999) that “much of what
constitutes the typical approaches to formal teacher professional development [is] antithetical
to what research findings indicate as promoting effective learning” (Bransford et al., 1999;
cited in Kwakman, 2003: 150). She points out that from the cognitive psychological
perspective, if teachers themselves are to learn new ways of teaching, they too need “to
construct their own knowledge and direct their own learning” (Kwakman, 2003: 150), and this
must be facilitated by creating favourable environments in which they can take charge of
their own learning.
Kwakman identifies from her review of the literature a series of principles relating to teacher
learning takes place when teachers participate in activities within the school context;
learning can be either individual (though this is not necessarily equated with self-
directed learning) or social in nature (as in collaborative learning);
collaboration with others can stimulate feedback and the exchange of new ideas; and
learning is necessary if teachers are to develop professionally: they may learn
individually through reading, experimenting, and reflecting, and jointly through
As part of the literature review reported here, Kwakman (2003) explores factors that promote
or inhibit teachers’ professional learning activity, and calls on adult learning theory and the
social psychology theory of work stress to offer additional perspectives. Adult learning theory
suggests that teacher learning will be influenced by the individual’s professional attitude, and
by the extent to which activities are viewed as feasible and meaningful. Work stress theory
assumes a mutual relationship between stress and learning, and Dutch research suggests
that emotional exhaustion and what is sometimes described as loss of personal
accomplishment may both play a part in determining teachers’ learning outcomes. The social
psychology theory of work stress (the job demand control model) suggests that both stress
and learning result from the interaction between the demands of a task and the discretion
allowed to the worker in meeting them (the degree of job control). While high job demands
are presumed to be a prerequisite for work-based learning, some degree of control is a
crucial factor if resulting work stress is to be avoided. Kwakman cites findings from her own
earlier work
suggesting that factors related to job demands and job control do have a
bearing on teachers’ participation in professional learning activities. Job demands may take
different forms, and are influenced by the pressure of work, its emotional demands and its
diversity; control will depend partly on the extent to which the individual has both autonomy,
and opportunities to influence the working environment and engage in decision-making.
Stress can be minimised by a supportive work environment, and according to Kwakman the
literature emphasises the importance in this respect of both social support (from
management and colleagues) and cultural support (through an environment that appreciates
and promotes participation in professional learning). The particular relevance to beginning
teachers of a social element within EPD is underlined in Day et al.’s (2006) report on their
‘Variations in Teachers’ Work, Lives and Effectiveness’ (VITAE) project, where although the
authors comment that “CPD was shown to be a consistently positive influence on teachers”
(p.121), they also note that “teachers who were at the beginning of their professional lives
were the most positive about the time and opportunity they had for self-reflection and a
sharing of practice with their colleagues” (p.127). Similar appreciation of opportunities to
share and extend their practice was expressed by participants in the University of Cambridge
EPD programme for science teachers (Mitchell et al., 2007).
Kwakman’s application of adult learning theory to the school as a workplace is echoed in its
use as the framework for a study by Sandholtz (2002) of teachers’ professional development
opportunities in the U.S.A. Although she does not identify the length of service of
participating teachers, some of her comments resonate with ideas already discussed above
in the context of teacher preparation and induction, notably her conclusion that:
“A primary focus of professional development activities should be teachers teaching
teachers. Teachers hold fellow teachers’ expertise in high regard - more so than
outside experts whom they often see removed from the day-to-day realities of
classroom teaching. Veteran teachers are the key in preparing new teachers and
helping with classroom discipline and management. Simply having time to collaborate
with colleagues in one’s school is an important form of professional growth” (p.827).
In common with Kwakman, Sandholtz also emphasises how much teachers value the
opportunity to select professional development activities that fit their current needs and
teaching circumstances, and to change these when their situations change.
Kwakman’s emphasis on the importance of some degree of autonomy for successful
participation in professional development activities also finds an interesting echo in the report
by Moor et al. (2005) on their evaluation of a pilot scheme for a proposed EPD initiative in
England. The authors identify a range of specific features as pivotal to the beneficial impact
of the scheme, foremost among which was teacher autonomy: the greater the level of
teachers’ involvement in selecting their EPD opportunities, the greater the outcomes they
derived. Moreover, where EPD that had taken place was reported to have had little impact,
the most common reason given was its failure to meet teachers’ own personal needs for
professional development. The influence of autonomy was particularly strong in terms of
enhancing subject knowledge, pupils’ learning and actual teaching practice; it was not found
to be detrimental to schools, since the teachers involved tended to be mindful of school
needs and focus on activities equally beneficial to the school.
The original work referred to here is accessible only in Dutch.
The evaluation reported by Moor et al. (2005) was originally designed as a three-year
longitudinal survey of schools in twelve local authorities (including 36 case study schools),
which was able to draw on the experiences of 620 second-, and later third-year teachers and
with their mentors. When it was decided not to proceed with the proposed initiative beyond
the pilot, the purpose of the third year’s research was altered, resulting in a change in case
study criteria and the replacement of more than two-thirds of the case-study schools.
Although the result was some loss of continuity, these adjustments did result in a stronger
focus on identifying lessons from the EPD experience which would be valid in a wider
In the original pilot scheme, funding was made available to participating LAs to support the
professional development of second- and third-year teachers in order to foster a firm base for
career-long professional development. While there was some variation in the range of
implementation models adopted, overall these were characterised by two elements: the
involvement of individual teachers (supported by their schools) in decisions on how the
funding should be used to address their needs, and a commitment to mentoring. The wide
range of activities undertaken as a result of the emphasis on individual choice included
attendance on courses (either specifically targeted at EPD needs or open to all teachers),
professional networking, and in-school activities such as lesson observation and team
teaching. In addition, some participants used the available funding to enable them to engage
in research or study for a qualification, to visit other schools, or to purchase resources. More
generally, funding was also valued for its ability to free up additional non-contact time
through the provision of supply cover.
In each year of the pilot the responses of the primary teachers involved were slightly more
positive than those of their secondary peers, and they also reported having greater autonomy
in selecting their EPD. In terms of participants’ routes into teaching, however, there appeared
to be no significant variation in impact between the major groups represented: those (around
two-thirds) who had entered teaching via a PGCE course, those holding BA / BSc with QTS
(around 20%), and the smaller group (around 10%) with a BEd. Over the three years of the
pilot the levels of reported effectiveness increased and its benefits became more widespread
throughout the teacher sample: while 61 per cent of participant responses in year 1
suggested a considerable impact, this rose to 74 per cent in year 2 and 77 per cent in year 3.
Some, especially in the first year, saw the provision of EPD itself as an ‘impact’, but their
emphasis often moved over time to outcomes related to their thinking, practices and careers.
Mentor support appeared to be particularly influential for second year teachers, especially in
terms of improving practice (notably behaviour management) and career development.
Although the relationship appeared less important overall for teachers in their third year,
teachers involved in the EPD pilot reported that mentors still influenced their commitment,
morale and desire for professional development. Teachers were found to benefit most if they
were involved in selecting their mentor, perhaps another indication of the importance of a
degree of teacher autonomy for the successful functioning of EPD.
A different approach to the provision of EPD was introduced in Northern Ireland in 1998, since
when all graduates completing the initial phase of ITE have had to develop a Career Entry
Profile (CEP) which should inform the planning of both their induction year and two years of
EPD. During the EPD phase they must undertake a focused Professional Development
Activity (PDA) from each of three categories: classroom / school management, curriculum and
ICT (two if ICT is integrated in one of the others). A framework of competences provides the
basis for planning learning and evaluating progress at all three phases of teacher preparation.
Findings from the limited sample of recently qualified teachers involved in research by Kearns
(2001) in Northern Ireland suggested that many were behind schedule in completing their
PDAs as expected, chiefly because of their teaching workload. Half of the participating
teachers indicated that the main reason for choosing a PDA topic was school priority, whilst
other choices were driven by what the teachers themselves had identified as the needs of
their class. The teachers’ own personal interests accounted for considerably less than a third
of the total; not one of their choices was attributed to either the Career Entry Profile (CEP), or
their own competence needs. Kearns suggests that teacher attitudes towards this form of
EPD might have influenced their choice of PDA: some seemed to consider the activities as an
obstacle to be overcome by drawing upon their strengths and interests (rather than needs),
while others apparently felt obliged to select activities they perceived as challenging.
Kearns argues that the results of his study raise interesting questions about the competence
base of the EPD programme. Many of the PDAs undertaken by teachers appeared to focus
not on acquiring teaching competences identified as targets in their career entry profiles, but
on demonstrating curriculum developments that responded to Department of Education for
Northern Ireland (DENI) strategic priorities (e.g. teaching using ICT) or the needs of the
school or class. He expresses concern at the apparent effects of compulsion upon a
potentially creative process (over half of respondents thought the activities ‘of limited value’),
and strongly advocates the development of in-service teacher networks. On the basis of the
literature Kearns argues that these should be characterised by a commitment to innovation,
information sharing and psychological support; they should be provided with an effective
facilitator, and participation should be voluntary. The activities of such networks should be
directed by teachers themselves, promoting greater control, a sense of ownership and
commitment to the profession.
A wider perspective on such issues is offered by Kennedy (2005) in her suggested typology
of the differing modes of continuing professional development (CPD). Her proposed
framework, founded on the available literature, “explores the extent to which CPD is
perceived and promoted either as an individual endeavour related to accountability, or as a
collaborative endeavour that supports transformative practice” Kennedy 2005: 235). The nine
models proposed range from the ‘training model’, “generally ‘delivered’ to the teacher by an
‘expert’, with the agenda determined by the deliverer, and the participant placed in a passive
role” (p.237), to what Kennedy terms the ‘transformative model’, which combines a range of
practices and conditions to support collective development towards a transformative agenda.
At almost a central point on this continuum lies the ‘coaching or mentoring model’, which:
“depending on the matching of those involved in the… relationship… can support
either a transmission view of professional development, where teachers are initiated
into the status quo by their more experienced colleagues or a transformative view
where the relationship provides a supportive, but challenging forum for both
intellectual and affective interrogation of practice” (p.243).
In either case, Kennedy (2005) argues that “regardless of the fundamental purpose of the
coaching / mentoring model… the quality of interpersonal relationships is crucial” (p.243).
Moor et al. (2005) comment that teachers in the schools that scored highest in their
evaluation of the EPD pilot “described an environment in which they were expected to take
responsibility for their professional learning and felt supported and encouraged to do so”
(p.94), an approach that suggests at least an element of Kennedy’s ‘transformative’ view of
mentoring. Indeed, school support proved to be one of the strongest predictors of positive
outcomes derived from the EPD pilot, and the findings of Moor et al. (2005) show the
benefits to be far from one-way, since they also found evidence to suggest that the early
professional development of teachers had enabled them to participate more effectively in
their school communities. Not only did three-quarters of the teachers responding to the final
year survey report that EPD had considerably affected their ability to contribute to their
colleagues and the school, but this was confirmed by the mentors, of whom 78 per cent
registered a belief that EPD considerably affected their mentees’ contribution to school life. In
a study of EPD activities undertaken by second- and third-year teachers not involved in the
EPD pilot, Ofsted (2003) too concluded that effective professional development for individual
teachers appeared to bring with it a contribution to the development of colleagues and, to a
lesser extent, the whole school.
A study conducted by Draper et al. (1997) throws an interesting sidelight on issues of early
professional development in Scotland through the analysis of the questionnaire responses of
a cohort of novice teachers who had just completed their two-year probationary period. When
the authors examined those data in the light of respondents’ employment patterns over the
first two years of teaching, they found marked differences in satisfaction levels. Recently
qualified teachers whose employment had been interrupted rather than continuous reported
lower levels of satisfaction with their induction than those in continuous employment, and
appeared more uncertain about the criteria and methods used in assessment. However,
when invited to rate how developed they now felt as teachers, about 66 per cent of those in
continuous employment believed that they were well developed while 34 per cent felt there
was scope for further development; in contrast, 80 per cent of those with broken employment
patterns believed they had developed as teachers against only 20 per cent who saw room for
further development. Reflecting on this result, the authors argue that many beginning
teachers in broken employment may see themselves as well developed because they have
become “very skilled at surviving, at managing a new class and ‘getting the show on the
road’ ” (p.292); by contrast, those in continuous employment may feel less well developed
because they have been more deeply involved in their work, and hence are more aware of
areas in which they need to develop further.
Draper et al. (1997) argue that recently qualified teachers who experience discontinuity in
their employment miss out on learning to manage the job in the long-term, and as a result,
fail to experience an important dimension of teaching as a professional task; as a result, they
may be evaluating their needs for development against a restricted view of the job.
Respondents to this study had been teaching for two years (albeit, under the Scottish
system, as probationers): there seems a real risk that both their low opinion of EPD and their
sense of their own needs could be difficult to modify later in their teaching careers.
6.4 Moving beyond the early years of teaching: issues and challenges
Moor et al. (2005) cite the findings of Ofsted (2003) that in around half of the non-pilot
scheme schools studied the EPD activities provided had directly strengthened commitment
to a career in teaching; but in addition they draw attention to a contrast in findings on
retention issues between those involved in the EPD pilot programme and those recently
qualified teachers in their own comparative sample (p.63). One of the largest increases in the
pilot’s reported impact over time was in participants’ commitment to the teaching profession,
which rose by 16 percentage points between the first and final (third) year. In addition, when
asked ‘How likely is it that you will be working in teaching in five years’ time?’, 70 per cent of
participating teachers registered ‘a strong likelihood’ compared with 59 per cent of the
comparative sample. Moreover, the expected probability of remaining in the profession was
consistently higher for the EPD participants irrespective of phase, year of teaching, or type of
LA. Moor et al. (2005) suggest that “the positive effect of EPD extends to a greatly enhanced
perception of the teaching profession and less dissatisfaction on the part of teachers… in
comparison with others at a similar stage in their careers” (p.63).
One of the long-term aims of the Cambridge EPD programme for science teachers “has been
to influence retention amongst teachers at the start of their career” (Mitchell et al., 2007: 14).
As well as the benefits in terms of improved classroom practice that resulted from training
days, the evaluation of this programme identified other gains such as increased confidence,
a reduction in stress, and an enhanced awareness of career possibilities (Mitchell et al.,
2007). Such conclusions, together with those of Moor et al. (2005) discussed above,
reinforce other findings (e.g. from the U.S.) that underline the potential of personally tailored
and well-supported EPD as a powerful component in the drive to reduce new teacher
attrition, especially as part of a continuum of provision:
“The effects of strong initial preparation are likely to be enhanced by equally strong
induction and mentoring in the early teaching years. These young teachers not only
stay in the profession at higher rates, but they also become competent more quickly
than those who learn by trial and error” (Sykes and Darling-Hammond, 2003: 25).
Other research suggests that developments in new teachers’ attitudes during their early
years may carry within them the seeds of later resignation from the profession.
Looking back on the three years of their longitudinal study which tracked a small cohort of
teachers of ICT from their initial training into their third year of teaching, Hammond and
Cartwright (2003) note changes in participants’ sources of dissatisfaction from students’
behaviour and attitudes in the first year to dealing with coursework in the second. Also in the
second year, however, factors beyond the classroom began to feature as causes of
discontent, notably insensitivity and lack of trust on the part of senior colleagues. The authors
comment that over time the negative factors have apparently extended gradually beyond the
classroom. Since only three of the nine interviewees were embarking on their first career, it
would be dangerous to take their reactions as typical; but the issues raised here could have
important messages for the long-term retention of new teachers in the profession. While
those managers described as effective were perceived as supportive, approachable and
appreciative, teachers experiencing difficulties with senior management reported “a system
that did not support, and, in many instances, worked against their personal and professional
needs” (p.218).
Powney et al. (2003) offer an example of such a system when they report informants’
comments that organising INSET after school hours could disadvantage part-timers (mostly
women) and teachers with children. Areas of particular discontent cited by Hammond and
Cartwright (2003) included appraisal, promotion and pressure to put in additional hours.
While the head teacher’s role was pivotal, heads of department could also have a strongly
positive or negative impact on a teacher’s working life. Two interviewees with previous
experience of industry made particularly scathing comments on the poor quality of ‘man-
management’ in teaching (p.219). It would be interesting to know whether studies of industry
or business reveal the same growing discontent with management as new recruits become
established and assimilated into an organisation, or whether this phenomenon is specific to
teaching; but in any case, the increasing number of mature entrants to the profession is likely
to bring with it a more conscious (and potentially vocal) appraisal of working conditions and
leadership and management practices, once the initial induction period is over.
6.5 Conclusions
Early professional development can be seen as part of a continuum that begins with the work
of the school-based mentor during ITP, supports newly qualified teachers through the
induction process, and extends beyond the first few years of teaching in the form of
continuing professional development. The literature suggests that in each case it will be most
effective where it combines professional development activities with attention to the culture
and ethos of the school: this both benefits individual teachers and promotes the formation of
a learning community. Research tells us that learning is necessary if teachers are to continue
to develop professionally, and that where EPD offers an element of individual choice, novices
are more likely to feel empowered to pursue their own needs and develop further their
individual teacher identities.
There is also some evidence to suggest that support for career development allied to a
collegiate ethos and a positive relationship with management, will often result in an additional
dividend for schools in the form of long-term retention. Conversely, a lack of attention to
some of these factors may well have a negative impact on the decisions of NQTs to remain
in the profession beyond the first few years. Before discussing beginning teacher retention,
however, we first consider what research has to tell us on issues affecting the retention of
student teachers.
Chapter 7: Issues relating to the retention of trainee teachers
7.1 Introduction
“In England, about 40 per cent of those who embark on a training course never become
teachers, and of those who become teachers, about 40 per cent are no longer teaching five
years later” (Kyriacou et al., 2003: 256). This chapter will look at the profiles of those who
leave ITP, and attempt to explore the issue of trainees who finish their course but fail to
proceed into employment as a teacher. The following chapter will then go on to examine the
research evidence on teacher retention during the early years of service.
7.2 Attrition from ITP
Though recruitment into ITP is improving, withdrawal rates are high: 13-14 per cent of
trainees leave training before completion. When Chambers and Roper (2002) conducted
research into why student teachers withdrew from the University of Leeds secondary PGCE
course, they found that the key factors were workload, stress, low morale and ‘general
unhappiness’. The authors conclude that while some trainees withdrew from their course
because of personal difficulties (including finance), most reasons given related to ‘the job of
teaching’, its challenges, and the possible mismatch between expectations and reality. Such
findings raise issues concerning trainees’ commitment to ITP, their prior expectations and
recruitment procedures.
Although Reid and Cauldwell (1997: 47) found that the “vast majority of PGCE students had
positive and professionally sound rather than negative and questionable reasons for wanting
to teach”, Chambers and Roper (2002) argue that of those leaving teacher training only a
quarter had identified teaching as a prior goal. Among course completers, however, there
was an even split between those who had entered ITP with a clear commitment to teacher
training and those who felt it was something to try or an alternative to unemployment. Lewis
(2002) found a similar split among men who completed a primary PGCE course, with half
knowing previously that they wanted to teach and the others deciding while at university.
In terms of retention on ITP programmes, one study of trainees who withdrew very early on
in their PGCE course found that the main reasons given were that they had decided teaching
would not suit them, they had received an offer of alternative employment, or they were
leaving for financial reasons (Baumfield and Taverner, 1997; cited in Edmonds et al., 2002:
42). In addition to asking ITP students why they withdrew from their course, Chambers and
Roper (2000) sent questionnaires to school co-ordinators and the teacher-tutors of withdrawn
students. Reasons for withdrawal given by the schools included an inability or disinclination
to cope with aspects of the teacher’s role such as imposing discipline or preparing lessons,
lack of confidence in front of a class, and a lack of commitment. The obvious disparity
between these two banks of ‘reasons’ is troubling, but perhaps understandable if we consider
the potential for latent bias in self-reporting: neither group of respondents is likely to report
inadequacy, either of performance (in the case of the trainees) or of support.
Student teachers are also most likely to withdraw from ITP during or immediately after ‘block
teaching’ placements (Sands, 1993; Chambers and Roper, 2002; Basit et al., 2006). It is
during this period that trainees often appear to realise that they are not suited to teaching; as
in the induction period for NQTs, there can be an element of ‘reality shock’. The experience
of the reality of teaching can also be compounded by the individual school experience.
Kyriacou et al. (2003) suggest that the decisions of student teachers to stay in or leave the
profession are strongly influenced by the schools they train in. A bad placement-school
experience increases the likelihood of withdrawal from ITP. This has implications for school-
centred and employment-based training routes, where trainees spend the vast majority of