New Early Career CPD research report

News release

Wednesday 7 November 2018

A new research report published by the Department for Education (DfE), which commissioned NFER to explore the support required for early career teachers (ECTs) and good practice in continuous professional development (CPD), has been published.

The Early Career Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Exploratory Research report highlights good practice already going on in schools around structured CPD, high-quality mentoring and supporting progression.

In this report, examples of effective practice in high-performing jurisdictions are set alongside in-depth data gathered from teachers working in 20 schools in England that have been identified as having higher than average rates of retention of early career teachers. Our hypothesis was that the provision of high-quality training and support for teachers in their first three years may have contributed to case-study schools’ high levels of retention, although other factors may have also contributed. Together, this data provides understanding of how CPD can support, develop and retain teachers in the early stages of their careers.

The project included:

  • a rapid review of UK and international evidence
  • analysis of data from the School Workforce Census to support sampling of schools
  • in-depth school case studies involving interviews with 41 ECTs, 37 mid-career teachers (MCTs), and 22 CPD leads across ten primary schools and ten secondary schools.

The report found that in a teachers’ induction year, their main development priorities included: behaviour management, assessment, pedagogy and supporting pupils with particular needs such as pupils with special educational needs and disability (SEND). Many teachers in their second or third year reported that they wanted training and support that would help them to progress into subject, year group/key stage, or other middle leadership roles, while some wanted to take on specialist roles or responsibilities.

Having a range of support options available, including informal support from a variety of colleagues was a positive factor for early career and mid-career teachers. The provision of more personalised, light-touch training and support was a positive factor for recently qualified teachers.

Commenting on the report, NFER research manager Matt Walker said: “Our findings highlight the importance of collegial support in helping new teachers to acclimatise to the reality of work in schools. They also suggest that a supportive school culture is critical to the success of early career teachers' professional development. While most of the newly qualified teachers we spoke to reported positive experiences of induction, this was not always the case, and formal support for recently qualified teachers was much more limited.

There was some evidence to suggest that where they were being used effectively, multi academy trusts (MAT) structures were helping to enhance the benefits of induction and professional development by creating more opportunities for early career teachers to observe expert teachers in other schools.”

A summary of the full key findings and a link to the DfE report can be found here.

For more on NFER’s work in the School Workforce area, visit