Each year, the programme was put together by Head teachers. Their choice of content for the 6-7 sessions was based upon conversations they had had with teachers from their schools who had left the profession in recent years. Half of the sessions were delivered in the first term, and the rest were delivered across the rest of the year. We originally thought that we would only have funding for one year. However, the success of the programme led to a one-year extension, and then a further one-year extension. In each of our first two programmes, about 20 teachers participated. In our third year, the programme involved 45 teachers.
Within a backdrop of the local context, sessions (in 2018-19 and 2019-20) focussed on topics such as ‘managing adults in your classroom’, ‘managing difficult conversations with parents/carers and other adults’, understanding the reasons behind behaviours that you see (e.g. Attachment, Anxiety), ECT wellbeing, and career pathways. Heads recognised the value in their teachers making links with peers working in other local schools, and so opportunities for participants to talk and get to know each other were built into each programme. All sessions were held in a central location meaning that teacher travel time was no more than 30 minutes.
Our third ECD programme (2020-21) was slightly different due to the pandemic. Heads recognised that their N/RQTs (Newly/Recently Qualified Teachers) had experienced significant disruption to their training or NQT years. Those who were trainees or NQTs in 2019-20 had missed out on teaching practice and experience, especially of planning and teaching for a whole class alongside a supportive mentor. Heads decided to use approximately half of the funding to provide additional mentoring time for each participant teacher in whichever area it was felt they needed. Some used it to observe their more experienced mentor colleague, others team-taught, others used the time for discussions – for example, around planning, giving feedback to children, or working with parents and carers. Not only did this additional mentoring provide very bespoke support, the in-school nature of it meant that it could go ahead despite Covid restrictions preventing larger groups from different schools being able to get together in person.
There were also online sessions – to meet peers and have input around Attachment, Anxiety and wellbeing – across the first two terms. Towards the end of the year when inter-school visits were possible, teachers were given the opportunity to have a half day visit to another school. They chose which area they would like to see (e.g. maths, DT, writing, music etc.) and then they went to local schools known to have a particular strength in that area to observe and discuss excellent teaching in their chosen subject. For example, one group went to a local school where they observed the teaching of writing in different year groups, and had the opportunity to discuss progression, assessment and all they had seen with the English Lead.
Across all three ECD programmes, feedback from participants was collected after sessions. Results were extremely positive [word limit reached – see example feedback written later on form]
At the end of each programme, we collected views of Heads, and in the third year we also gained feedback from mentors. Heads reported that the programme had been of benefit to their school. Through teacher observations, they had been able to see staff using their learning from the sessions. For example, in the way teachers worked with children with insecure Attachment, or with the adults in their classroom. While Heads recognised that there are many factors that affect retention, they all felt that the programme had supported retention of staff in their school.