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New framework to support trainee and early career teachers

Thursday 15 February 2024

The Department for Education (DfE) have published a new framework to support trainee and early career teachers. The Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework (ITTECF) combines the initial teacher training (ITT) core content framework (CCF) and the early career framework (ECF). This new framework covers the training and induction periods at the start of a teacher’s career and sets a minimum entitlement to three years of training for most trainee and early career teachers (ECT) from September 2025.

The publication of this new framework follows a Call for Evidence in Spring 2023 as one of the commitments made by the Government in the SEND and alternative provision improvement plan, with the aim of ensuring that teachers are better prepared to support children with SEND.

The BDA responded to the Department for Education (DfE) call for evidence (22 March – 21 April) which aimed to gather evidence from research, experts, and professionals to inform the amendments to these frameworks.

BDA Recommendations

The BDA submitted the following recommendations for additions to the published standards in teacher training. Our recommendations are based upon recent, relevant, and high-quality research and aim to promote excellent teaching practice:

Standard 2 – How Pupils Learn

Teachers should learn that…

  • A typical classroom will include learners with dyslexia and/or other specific learning difficulties.
  • These learners will need more explicit teaching.
  • They will benefit from learning methods which reduce the burden on their working memory.
  • All learners will benefit from the reduction of stress.

Standard 3- Subject and Curriculum

  • Learning to read requires the contextualised teaching of reading: ‘balanced instruction’.
  • Learners with dyslexia have a specific difficulty learning to decode using systematic synthetic phonics (SSP)

Standard 5 – Adaptive Teaching

  • Early identification of learning difficulties is critical.
  • Poor language is an indicator that a learner may be at risk of dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties.
  • Targeted intervention can support learning and prevent secondary issues from arising.
  • Learners with dyslexia have a specific difficulty learning to read and spell.
  • Learners with a specific learning difficulty are at higher risk of stress which must be reduced to enable learning.
  • Access to appropriate assistive technology improves educational outcomes.

You can read our full submission here: BDA response to ITT Call for Evidence

Analysis of the new ITTECF

We welcome the new single framework and acknowledge that some of the language has been updated to be more inclusive of children with SEND, and there is a specific section referencing SEND within the introduction. Although the framework has taken some statements on adapting teaching from the new NPQ SENCo qualification, we are concerned that the new framework does not go far enough to achieve one of its stated intentions “… to equip all trainees and ECT with a shared knowledge and skills…”[1]


There is a strong focus on mentors and other colleagues supporting ECT to adapt their teaching for SEND. Yet we know that many existing teachers have little training on identifying and supporting learners with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties (SpLD) If they are likely to require support to adapt their own teaching – how then can they guide new teachers?

The ITTECF sets out two types of content: ‘Learn that…’ and ‘Learn how to…’ statements and explains that 'Learn that' statements are based on the best educational research, whereas 'Learn how to' statements are from a wider evidence base that includes guidance from expert practitioners.

It is notable that there is no mention that teachers should “learn that” a typical classroom will include learners with SEND – even though we know dyslexic learners alone represent 10% of all learners in the classroom. In fact there is no direct mention of dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties anywhere in the framework. Our view is that every trainee and ECT should be given explicit teaching on dyslexia and specific learning difficulties.

The addition of a specific “learn that” related to working memory and learners with SEND is a positive step. But the “learn how to” does not adequately show teachers how to adapt their teaching to reduce the burden on working memory, and importantly fails to acknowledge the impact of stress on working memory.

The evidence we submitted to the DfE in the Spring 2023 clearly evidenced that a single focus on teaching reading and spelling by decoding via Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) is not supported by research evidence, and that since teaching methods in the UK have followed a SSP first and only approach, improvements in reading by the end of KS1 have not been seen.[2] It is concerning therefore to see within standard 3 – subject and curriculum, that SSP is still promoted as the most effective way to decode. We believe that ITT must include other more explicit ways to teach reading alongside SSP, so that teachers have a toolkit to support learners who cannot learn to read when SSP is used as the sole method.

There are some welcome additions to the combined framework, but given the significant and robust evidence submitted to the DfE as part of their call for evidence, the final framework is disappointing. It still puts the onus on individual ITT and ECF providers to design their own training curriculum and this leads to wide variation in what trainees are taught.

[1] Initial Teacher Training and Early Career Framework p4 published by DfE January 2024

[2] National Statistics. (2019). Phonics screening check and key stage 1 assessments: England 2019. .

Bowers, J. S. (2020). ‘Reconsidering the Evidence That Systematic Phonics Is More Effective Than Alternative Methods of Reading. Educational Psychology Review. 32:681–705