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17 November 2023

How are you doing? ECF digital check-ups to manage workload and enhance wellbeing

The National Institute of Teaching has launched a new digital tool to help early career teachers manage their workload and improve their wellbeing.

The start of any new career can be an exhilarating, nerve-wracking time. This is even more true of teaching, which brings an intensity of opportunities, challenges and heightened emotions.

Even seasoned teachers, whose early years in the classroom may feel like a lifetime ago, can recall those feelings of excitement and trepidation all too easily. So how should we support new teachers as they step into their classrooms and begin establishing themselves in the school community?

At the National Institute of Teaching, we are proud to offer an Early Career Framework programme (ECF) that listens to and responds to the needs of new teachers, while drawing on the experience and expertise of their mentors and school leaders.

Two things set us apart. First, we have an in-house, dedicated research team who connect us directly with those at the front line of education so we can respond to their needs in real time. Second, we foster the closest possible relationships with our partner schools. This way, we can gain a true understanding of what new teachers really need if they are to thrive in their new careers and deliver the excellent education that every child deserves.

Teaching is a hugely demanding role

Anyone with classroom experience will testify to the fact that teaching is a hugely demanding role, most of all when you’re just starting out. So, when we set out to design our ECF programme, we listened carefully to what teachers were telling us about what worked and what didn’t. Our aim was to do things differently, putting teacher wellbeing at the centre of what we offered.

So, our in-house research team have designed an innovative digital tool to monitor and respond to teacher workload and wellbeing. It takes the form of a short pulse survey that new teachers and their mentors can access whenever they log into their online learning platform. This provides snapshots of how things are going throughout the teaching year, which allows us to get a more accurate sense of where the pinch-points arise.

Here are five ways that our digital wellbeing check-ups will support new teachers, their mentors and their schools:

1. If it's a teaching pinch-point, we'll try not to add any more pinch

Our digital wellbeing check-ups allow new teachers and their mentors to provide regular feedback on how things are going. By collecting and analysing this feedback, we gain valuable insights into wellbeing and workload. We can use this data to make informed decisions and interventions to alleviate workloads and enhance teacher wellbeing. Put simply, if it’s a teaching pinch-point, we’ll try not to add any more pinch.

2. Giving people the tools to help themselves

Our ECF teachers can see a history of their digital wellbeing check-ups. This allows them to identify their own pinch-points and collaborate with their mentors to develop workload strategies. By providing personalised support and empowering teachers to take an active role in their professional development, this digital tool gives them more control. In short, we want to help new teachers to work with their mentors to take ownership of their workload and wellbeing.

3. There's strength (and patterns) in numbers

At NIoT, we believe in the power of collaboration and collective improvement. Our digital wellbeing check-ups allow us to share anonymized data with our researchers and associates. This collective knowledge and experience means we can identify patterns across the educational sector, and create effective strategies for workload management and enhanced wellbeing. In brief, there’s strength in numbers, and we want to use that strength to benefit our community of teachers nationwide.

4. Making our programmes better

Tackling issues of workload and wellbeing is an ongoing process, and our digital wellbeing check-ups are part of our long-term development strategy. By gathering data over time, we’re able to refine our programmes and anticipate the evolving needs of ECTs and their mentors. In other words, we’re committed to continuous improvement, ensuring that workload and wellbeing remain at the heart of our programme design at every stage.

5. Respecting teachers helps them stay teachers

Our digital wellbeing check-ups are there to create an environment that respects teachers' time and prioritises their wellbeing. By actively addressing workload concerns and enhancing overall wellbeing, this is a tool that contributes to the retention of talented teachers in the profession. Ultimately, we recognise the importance of nurturing a resilient and motivated teaching workforce, which, in turn, benefits both teachers and students alike.

New teachers are precious. Our mission is to invest in them, both for their wellbeing and for the benefit of the education sector as a whole. Our digital wellbeing check-ups will help us do just that, connecting us directly to ECF teachers and allowing us to respond to their needs in real time, while also feeding into our long-term goal of working towards a healthier, happier, more effective education sector nationwide.

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