Thursday, 24 March 2016: At a meeting on 21 March 2016, the Teaching Council agreed to commission research into the experience of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) during the early years of their professional career.
In reaching this decision, the Council is mindful of how the landscape of professional learning for student and newly qualified teachers has been transformed in the last few years.
The programmes of initial teacher education have been extended to four years at undergraduate level, and two years at post-graduate level. These new programmes include more time for school placement, reflective practice and research. This year has seen the approval of Droichead, a new integrated framework of induction, as well as the first national framework for teachers’ learning, Cosán.
These changes have been designed to enhance the support and guidance that NQTs receive as they embark on their career as teachers.
Notwithstanding these positive developments, the Council is also aware of the challenges that face newly qualified teachers as they seek continuous employment that would enable them to make the most of the new supports that are available to them.
The Council believes that any sustainable solution to this problem will need to be further informed by the voice and perspective of newly qualified teachers, and by sound, comprehensive research. This decision to commission research into their experience over a significant period of time addresses both aspects.
It is intended that the research will examine a number of areas, including:
- NQTs’ transition from initial teacher education to the Droichead process, and further on to Cosán (the new national framework for teachers’ learning);
- Their experience of induction through Droichead, the integrated framework for induction;
- Their early years’ experience of teaching and of extended professional learning, both in Droichead and Cosán.
Through this research, the Council is demonstrating how the national conversation on teaching and learning needs to place a greater emphasis on newly qualified teachers , and, in particular, their need for the best possible start to their teaching career, including induction, support and guidance.
Through Droichead and Cosán, the Council has demonstrated its commitment to evidence-informed policy development, led by teachers in partnership with others. This commissioning of research on the experience of NQTs builds on this foundation.
It is intended that the research study will be longitudinal in nature, covering a period of up to ten years. This would include regular interim updates through which findings would be published. As these findings are published, the Council hopes that all stakeholders will find them helpful. We expect that they will be of particular benefit in helping the partners in education to continue enhancing the quality of all the supports that are available to newly qualified teachers, especially their induction and early professional learning.
This decision of the Council reflects its belief that teaching must continue to be an attractive profession in Ireland. It comes on foot of the recent submission of the Council’s advice on entry criteria and teacher supply to the Department of Education and Skills. The work on teacher supply, which included a national consultative forum of all stakeholders, is a good model of how we can all collaborate in working towards solutions for issues that are very complex in terms of their causes, but all too real in terms of their impact on the daily reality of teachers.
The commissioning of research also reflects the Council’s strong desire to see a system of guaranteed placement established for NQTs as a matter of urgency. It has called three times for such a system, in the Policy on the Continuum of Teacher Education, in the policy for the Droichead pilot in 2013 and most recently at the launch of Droichead on 2 March 2016.
The Council looks forward to commissioning the research on the experience of newly qualified teachers, so as to further inform debate and policy decisions that affect their early career progress, their learning and that of their students.
Updates on the research will be available on www.teachingcouncil.ie and on twitter @TeachingCouncil.