Northern Ireland beginning teachers' experiences of induction: the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’

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  • This article was downloaded by: [UQ Library]On: 03 October 2013, At: 12:28Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    European Journal of Teacher EducationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:

    Northern Ireland beginning teachers'experiences of induction: the havesand the have notsLesley Abbott a , Anne Moran a & Linda Clarke aa School of Education, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UKPublished online: 28 Mar 2009.

    To cite this article: Lesley Abbott , Anne Moran & Linda Clarke (2009) Northern Ireland beginningteachers' experiences of induction: the haves and the have nots, European Journal of TeacherEducation, 32:2, 95-110, DOI: 10.1080/02619760802613313

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  • Northern Ireland beginning teachers experiences of induction: thehaves and the have nots

    Lesley Abbott*, Anne Moran and Linda Clarke

    School of Education, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK

    The induction of beginning teachers continues to occupy a significant position oneducational policy agendas as a crucial dimension in the formation of a teacherand one upon which an emergent career is built. Whilst there is growing impetusto establish an induction model that constitutes a relevant, fulfilling experience,current arrangements continue to vary throughout the UK. This paper describesinduction as it affected a sample of beginning teachers in Northern Ireland, wherethere is a dearth of permanent positions for those newly qualified. Highlycontrasting experiences of the induction year emerged between graduates inpermanent and one-year temporary positions, and those who were short-termtemporary and supply teachers. The former completed a meaningful inductionwhereas the latter, because of sporadic, fragmented employment, did not. Aflexible model of induction is proposed, with collaborative involvement of thehigher education institutions, the schools and the local education authorities.

    Keywords: induction; supply teaching; teacher education


    A teacher is never trained but always in training. (Osler 2005, 4)

    The induction of beginning teachers1 (BTs) remains high on educational policy

    agendas after decades of marginalisation (McNally and Oberski 2003, 59).

    Induction has a long history and, since 1925, attempts have been made to imbue

    the first year of teaching with characteristics of both assessment and systematic

    professional development (Heilbronn et al. 2002, 372). It is a critical dimension in

    the formation of a teacher the transition to teacherhood (McNally 2002, 65), with

    implications for teacher effectiveness, job satisfaction and career length

    (McCormack and Thomas 2003, 125). Yet the first year as a newly qualified teacher(NQT) is described worldwide in quite graphic terms: in Belgium as praxis shock

    (Kelchtermans and Ballet 2002); in Australia as thrown in to the life of a school with

    a sink or swim philosophy (Rolley 2001, 40); and in the UK as a dramatic and

    traumatic change (Capel 1998, 393) or, less drastically, as teaching fledglings to fly

    (Moyles, Suschitzky, and Chapman 1998). In the US, Darling-Hammond et al.

    (1999, 216) noted that whereas in other professions novices continue to hone their

    knowledge and skills under the watchful eyes of more knowledgeable and

    experienced practitioners [t]he normative conditions of teaching are far fromthis utopian model.

    Even where support is provided for BTs, when they first meet the survival stage

    most are overwhelmed and under-prepared for the workload, often struggling

    without adequate professional support, effective induction or mentoring

    *Corresponding author. Email:

    European Journal of Teacher Education

    Vol. 32, No. 2, May 2009, 95110

    ISSN 0261-9768 print/ISSN 1469-5928 online

    # 2009 Association for Teacher Education in EuropeDOI: 10.1080/02619760802613313




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  • (McCormack and Thomas 2003). They may also be asked to teach subjects in which

    they are not trained (Veenman 1984), all of which can weaken their commitment to

    remain in the profession; yet induction may positively influence retention (American

    Federation of Teachers 2001; Ingersoll and Smith 2004; Kelley 2004).

    This paper reports empirical research on the induction experiences of Northern

    Ireland (NI) BTs and considers improvements in current arrangements. Northern

    Ireland was the first part of the UK to formalise induction arrangements in 1997,

    then England in 1999, Scotland in 2002 and Wales in 2003 (Parkinson and Pritchard

    2005). Whilst the NI Department of Education has specified these, the actuality

    is different. There is great disparity between a system that is based on providing

    induction for new teachers and a situation in which most fail to find continuous

    employment upon entering the profession. Despite this, there is a paucity of

    research on BTs engaged on a short-term or supply basis (Tromans et al. 2001),

    defined as any teacher not contracted to a school (Department for Education and

    Skills 2002).

    What does induction comprise?

    At the prelude to a teaching career, the provision of support is vital and complex

    (Draper, OBrien, and Christie 2004). The purpose of induction includes protected

    time for review meetings, structured discussion with colleagues and systematic

    collection of evidence for a crucial summative assessment (Harrison 2002, 256). A

    mentor (or teacher tutor) should be assigned, observation of (and by) experienced

    colleagues arranged, and the capacity for critical self-reflection developed. This

    process of enculturation must also include helping new teachers to create safe

    classroom environments and to work effectively with parents (Feiman-Nemser


    What, then, are the arrangements for induction de nos jours? An Organisation for

    Economic Co-operation and Development (2005) study of 25 countries found that

    many lacked systematic induction programmes for beginning teachers, and

    throughout the UK opinion appears divided as to what actually constitutes a

    relevant, fulfilling experience. Induction is by no means unproblematic and, as Bubb

    asserts, at the bridge between training and the rest of a teachers career there will be

    turbulence (2003, 19). This is greatly exacerbated when new teachers cannot gain

    permanent employment, as Sharp, writing in Australia, states. She refers, indeed, to

    the negative repercussions for all stakeholders (2006, 12), although the most

    damaging consequences apply to the most vulnerable teachers those beginning in

    the profession (Tromans et al. 2001, 27) who can feel insecure, deskilled and

    excluded (Menter et al. 2004). In Canada too, where the annual new teacher

    surplusat the beginning of the decade grew more than 400 per cent (Ontario

    College of Teachers 2007, 3), the undesirable impact was that most teachers did not

    progress beyond occasional teaching in their first year, and the New Teacher

    Induction Programme (NTIP) in 20062007 centred mainly on those with regular

    contracts (9). Totterdell et al. (2004, 4) have called for the translation of political

    commitment into financial resources, insisting that good practice will require a

    transfusion of induction-supporting attitudes and dispositions into the bloodstream

    of the teaching profession via a revitalised notion of the psychological contract

    required with its aspiring members.

    96 L. Abbott et al.




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  • Current UK induction arrangements


    In England, all NQTs must complete a statutory induction during which they must

    meet the standards necessary for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) (Department for

    Education and Employment 1999a, 1999b) as well as induction standards the

    mandatory gateway into the profession (Hextall and Mahony 2000, 323). Induction

    is intended to last for three school terms and be completed within five years of

    achieving QTS (Kyriacou and OConnor 2003). Although it need not be started

    straight away, a long delay might adversely influence employment prospects.

    Concerning supply teachers, they can start induction once in a post lasting one term

    or more. The head teacher must retain documentation relating to the support,

    monitoring and assessment received, and these records must be obtained by head

    teachers in subsequent schools to ensure a consistent and coherent induction

    (National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers 2007a). The

    Career Entry Development Profile (CEDP) is to help the NQT identify professional

    development needs and goals.


    Provision for induction in Wales (once QTS is attained) similarly requires reduced

    teaching time, individualised programmes based on the CEDP and regular reviews of

    progress (National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers

    2007b, 11). Supply teachers, as in England, must be employed for one school term

    and have a transfer form completed by the induction tutor for the next school. From

    2007, NQTs in Wales were given a guaranteed three years mentoring, in-service

    training and learning opportunities, with the incentive of funding to meet individual

    needs. Short-term supply teaching is allowed for five years, after which a one-year

    extension is required if induction is not completed (7).

    Northern Ireland

    As elsewhere, induction in NI is compulsory, but differs from England and Wales as

    it has retained a competence (rather than a standards) approach to embrace Initial

    Teacher Education (ITE), induction and early professional development (EPD)

    (Moran, Dallat, and Abbott 1999). The dominant theme of partnership signifies a

    lead partner at each stage: the higher education institutions (HEIs) at ITE; the local

    education authorities during induction (Education and Library Boards (ELBs)); and

    the schools during EPD (Northern Ireland Teacher Education Committee and the

    Committee for Early Professional Development 1998). The partnerships were

    predicated upon an integrated model recognising the development of competence

    over time and identifying the most appropriate aspects of learning to teach (21).

    Because of the shortage of teaching posts in NI, there is no fixed time to complete

    induction, although normal duration is one year.

    The guidance document articulates the aims of induction and the effective use of

    the Career Entry Profile (CEP), as it is termed here, stressing the importance of the

    link with ITE. For short-term temporary teachers, a school should modify its

    induction programme and, if they are in post for a period of 810 weeks or more

    initiate them into this, albeit a condensed version (Northern Ireland Teacher

    European Journal of Teacher Education 97




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  • Education Committee and the Committee for Early Professional Development 1998,

    49). Schools employing BTs even on a day-to-day basis should support them as far

    as possible. They should register for induction, compile their teaching experiences

    and keep a log reflecting professional development (Northern Ireland Teacher

    Education Committee and the Committee for Early Professional Development1998). But it is difficult to see how the haphazard experience of graduates in multiple

    posts as short-term temporary or supply teachers can meaningfully lend itself to this

    arrangement. Moreover, the dearth of teaching jobs in NI means that many do not

    teach the subjects, nor belong to the school sector, for which they were trained. A

    range of factors therefore impacts on the kind of support they receive as the curtain

    is raised on their teaching career, chief of which is their employment status.


    Scotland, however, has a very different model. The McCrone Report (Scottish

    Executive Education Department 2000) ensured that [e]arly engagement in, and thedevelopment of, positive attitudes and habits in relation to professional development

    are now regarded as paramount for Scottish teachers (OBrien 2004, 5). Thus, from

    20022003 there has been a one-year guaranteed training post for all NQTs (Draper,

    OBrien, and Christie, 2004) and remuneration which compares well with that of

    other professions (National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women

    Teachers 2002, 4), their goal being the standard for full registration (SfR) (General

    Teaching Council Scotland 2002, in Draper and OBrien 2006). This was in response

    to the hitherto fragmented teaching experiences of new teachers on short-termcontracts the scandal of teacher induction through short-term supply (McNally

    2002, 149). McNally blames the complex history of neglect for NQTs being used

    increasingly for supply teaching and subjected to a discontinuity of teaching

    experience [undermining] any notion of a stable, supportive induction period (150).

    Either that or they were turning to other forms of employment, thus becoming lost

    to teaching (150). This is reflective of a worrying trend in NI exacerbated by

    demographic downturn and resulting in falling enrolment figures and subsequent

    school closures. Added to this is the tendency of schools to re-employ retiredteachers for supply purposes in preference to NQTs.

    There are key similarities, therefore, between the four jurisdictions, but striking

    contrasts, too, and the implications for short-term temporary teachers in England,

    Wales and NI may mean an unrewarding start to their career and an uneven

    pathway from ITE to the successive stages of professional life.

    Teacher education in NI supply and demand

    A vignette explains the five routes to t...


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