COVID-19 has led to huge disruptions to the education system, not just for students and teachers, but for those training to join the profession. Trainees learning to teach in UK secondary schools in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years experienced very challenging training contexts, and there is a real risk that they will have insufficient expertise and could rapidly leave the profession as a result.
In turn, this potential lack of expertise and high attrition could seriously impact on the educational outcomes of young people who have already faced significant disadvantage through school closures and ongoing COVID-19-related disruption. For these reasons, understanding how teacher development has been impacted by COVID-19, and how early career teachers (ECTs) can be best supported in response, is a public policy priority.
This 18-month research project began in April 2021 and responds directly to the challenge of understanding how teacher development has been impacted by COVID-19, and how early career teachers (ECTs) can be best supported in response to the pandemic. Through surveys and interviews with trainees, ECTs, school leaders and initial teacher education (ITE) staff based in both schools and university over a two year period, the project has elicited a rich understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on teacher quality and retention.
This document outlines findings from the research and provides practical recommendations for policy-makers, school leaders and ITE providers across the UK. While the research is focused on those who complete the postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE), the outcomes have relevance for all teacher education routes, including undergraduate pathways.