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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: L.Abbott@ulster.ac.uk
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
(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
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.
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).
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
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 teacher education: two universities provide the
one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE); two university colleges thefour-year Bachelor of Education; and the Open University offers the post-primary
PGCE. Some apply to train elsewhere, but most enrol and take up posts in NI a
relatively closed system. The Department of Education uses the Teacher Demand
Model to determine the teachers required each year, considering factors such as the
steady decline in the school-age population, but the NASUWT (2006) spoke of BTs
being let downafter the latest statistics revealed that only 22% [in 2003
04]secured jobs in their first year.
98 L. Abbott et al.
The Curran Report has already recommended a scheme similar to that in Scotland:
In our view the need for continuous employment during the initial year and theavailability of consistent mentoring during [EPD] is an essential part of establishingteaching excellence. (Department of Education 2003, Part 1, 11)
Most recommendations were implemented, but not this one, although Part 2 of the
report (Department of Education 2004, 6, para 78) also advocated a support
schemeto assist unemployed NQTs, immediately after qualification[to] be in
place by September 2005. This has not happened. BTs entering permanent
employment in 20022003 and 20032004 were far outweighed by those in
temporary positions (Education and Training Inspectorate 2005). In 20022003,
half could avail of induction (combining permanent and one-year temporary) and
half could not (the remaining three categories). The following year, those who could
not rose to almost 52%. Recent figures provided by the Department of Education
show a continuing decrease in those obtaining permanent posts, and correspondingly
fewer receiving full induction. Table 1 shows the key trends over five years in
permanent and temporary posts in all school sectors.
The Inspectorate nevertheless described current induction arrangements as
generally effective in a majority of schools [interpreted as 5074%], especially [those]
in permanent employment orone-year temporary contracts (Education and
Training Inspectorate 2005, 3). To improve the quality of induction, though, they
recommended, arrangements that ensure the professional development of beginning
teachers on short-term contracts, part-time contracts or without employment is
equitable, coherent and progressive (8). They called, too, for the identification of
ways in which CASS (Curriculum Advisory and Support Service) and the [HEIs]
can share their expertise and work together more systematically to ensureconti-
nuity and progression in the transition from [ITE] to induction (89). Likewise, the
General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland suggested that a critical
examination of the current arrangements in Scotland for a Guaranteed Induction
Year should be undertaken with a view to evaluating the potential to introduce a
similar scheme in Northern Ireland (2005, 43).
The inevitable outcome of competition for teaching posts is the vastly uneven
nature of induction for many BTs, with access highly inequitable and utterly
dependent upon the kind of post obtained. Since all four UK nations require student
teachers to meet specific standards/competences for induction, those in short-term
Table 1. Employment patterns among NI beginning teachers from 20032004 to 20062007
(nursery, primary, post-primary and special sectors combined) (%).
Employment 20022003* 20032004* 20042005** 20052006** 20062007**
Permanent 25 22 23 17 13
1-year temporary 25 26 20 18 19
37 35 38 51 44
Part-time 3 6 1 8 13
Not in post 10 11 18 6 11
Note: All figures rounded to nearest whole number.
*ETI 2005, ** Department of Education 2007 figures requested.
European Journal of Teacher Education 99
supply teaching in England, Wales and NI are prevented from doing so effectively
through a lack of sustained employment. However, McNally warns of an over-reliance on the kind of support derived from a standards-based support system,
which may only be partial and may fail to take account of new teachers important,
unvoiced needs (2006, 7980). The importance of the emotionalrelational
dimension of early teaching is underlined (McNally and Gray 2006), and the need
is acknowledged for a formal arrangement to be in place for beginning teachers
which has a natural mentoring environment in schools, described as the priceless
ethos of personal and professional support (2). At best, the haves register for
induction and are signed off within a year. At worst, the have nots begin inductionlate in their first year or not at all, which is both unfair and soul-destroying.
So what path ahead for teacher induction in NI? Places on teacher training
courses remain heavily oversubscribed, at 12 applicants for every primary place in
the present study (20042005). The situation was described as reaching crisis point
(Northern Ireland Assembly 2007), with a renewed call by the NI Assembly for
emulation of the Scottish policy which has received much praise (Draper, OBrien,
and Christie 2004). The rhetorical question: What happened to the Curran
Committee of Inquiry and all its recommendations? (Department of Education2003, 2004) was met with the response that they were still in the wilderness, as direct
rule Ministers were not prepared to seek the resources to implement them (Northern
Ireland Assembly 2007). The Minister has yet to respond.
Research design and methodology
A three-year study on teacher education was conducted at the University of Ulster,
funded by the Economic and Social Research Councils Teaching and Learning
Research Programme (ESRC-TLRP), to seek the opinions of trainee teachers on a
range of issues, tracking them through ITE, induction and their first year of EPD.
Their induction experiences are explored here.
From the 40 PGCE student teachers selected by proportionate stratified random
sampling from the 20042005 cohort, 30 were contactable after qualifying in 2005
2006 (15 primary (P) and 15 post-primary (PP); 511 and 1218 years, respectively).Both groups were predominantly female (P: 3 males (m), 12 females (f); PP: 4 males,
11 females). Structured one-to-one interviews conducted in participants schools
were tape-recorded and transcribed. Following ethical good practice, information
was provided on the nature and purpose of the interviews, stressing it was not related
to assessment. Voluntary informed consent was sought at the outset and on a
dynamic and continuous basis (Israel and Hay 2006, 64) prior to each set of
interviews over the three years. BTs were advised that they could withdraw at any
time without giving a reason, the data would be treated with the utmostconfidentiality and their anonymity assured in any publications. The findings are
organised under sub-headings derived directly from the interview questions, with
themes and sub-themes identified during analysis.
Employment patterns shown in Table 1 are clearly mirrored in the sample group in
the same year (20052006) (part-time and not-in-post categories are not applicable
100 L. Abbott et al.
here). Figures from the Education and Training Inspectorate (2005) and Department
of Education (2007) show that over the five years between 2002 and 2007, most BTs
continued to occupy temporary posts (short- or longer-term), with progressively
fewer in permanent positions and those in temporary capacity at their highest in
20052006. Official figures do not record data on supply teachers, although they
appear in the sample group which showed that most BTs were in temporary (t) posts
(54%) (one-year or longer combined), and 26% had supply or short-term(s)
employment or both. Just 20% had permanent jobs (see Table 2). Findings must be
interpreted tentatively because of small numbers.
Experiences of first year of teaching
Both positive and negative experiences emerged. One supply teacher compared his
highly sporadic experience in various schools with the benefits of a few months in the
I started off feeling like a travelling salesmanhad to sell myself to so manyschoolsfrom September to Christmas, no long stintcomplete lack of routine. Butfrom December until recentlyin the same schooldifferent and much better. Got toknow the other teachers, got to know the kids, and got to know my own teaching style.(P, m)
Two female colleagues spent periods of varying duration across sectors, resulting in
patchy experience, uncertainty and no financial security:
[Until] Decemberall key stages from nurserya large urban school with over 600children [and] a small rural school with eight pupils in Key Stage 1. From December toafter Eastersubbing inbiggersmallerand middle-sized schools. (P, f)
I got a Saturday job between from September to Christmas, because I was never surehow much money Id be getting. I had a car to pay off. Towards Christmason average15 days a month.From Easter to June a Primary 1 class every daya wee bit ofresponsibility. (P, f)
By contrast, two permanent teachers (one in NI, one in Scotland) said:
Im through inductionbeen to five coursesfor the first action plan I worked onbehaviour management really, really usefulhow do I control these children? (P, f)
Table 2. Employment profile of beginning teachers interviewed during induction year (2005
2006) (n530) (%).
Permanent 2 4 20
1-year temporary 6 5 37
Long-term temporary 3 2 17
Short-term temporary 1 2 10
Supply teaching 2 2 13
Supply + short-term teaching 1 0 315 15 100
Note: Percentages rounded to nearest whole number.
European Journal of Teacher Education 101
No jobs for teachers newly qualified in NIso when West Lothian Council came to UUand talked to the PGCE primary I was interviewed in Juneand started in August. (P,f)
Post-primary employment varied substantially, too, also in sector and subjects
taught. One BT had two main blocks of substitute cover in the same school with
other individual days; a second had supply teaching amounting to 29 hours teaching
time [weekly] from January to June (PP, m); a third, qualified in art and design, was
in eight schools (two primary), the longest time for one week:
[It] could be English, Science, Maths which I have no idea aboutjust there to cover aclass. (PP, f)
A technology and design graduate in a permanent post was teaching art,
citizenshipPE anda couple of junior IT classes (PP, f). An English teacher
had a one-year contract to teach RE, but felt fortunate to have a job.
Registration for induction
Most BTs registered for induction with their local education authority (ELB) (24:
14P, 10PP) all six permanent (2P, 4PP), 11 temporary (6P, 5PP) and five supply
teachers (5P), but a full one-fifth did not begin induction at all. Those who did so
clearly understood its structure and had completed or would shortly do so.
I registered the moment I started my permanent post. (P, f, t)
My induction year is completed now[the teacher tutor] said to me: Organise with theteachers for observations throughout the year, do your lesson plans, have all yourpreparation done, show us what youve prepared. (PP, f, p)
You register with the GTC ScotlandIm nearly finishedweekly meetings with amentorten classroom observations and feedback. (P, f, p)
One supply teacher managed to continue induction although spanning two schools.
Another registered but withdrew, believing time spent in the classroom was more
valuable, thereafter regretting his decision:
Thought I preferred the experience of being in the classroom to having an inductionyear. With hindsightit would have been great, something to have almost completed inmy first year. Ive put it on hold. (P, m)
A post-primary colleague, however, had a better experience thanks to an
She said although I was subbing, the courses are for supply teachers tooso I wentalong. You got to meet other people exactly the same as yourself. (PP, f)
School circumstances, though, could militate against supply teachers. When this
same BT moved schools after Easter and was told she could not complete induction
because of staff shortages:
I [did] the lessons and observations, butthey [couldnt] free up teachers to observe me.I still have the second half to do. (PP, f)
The picture differed strikingly for the six BTs who had not registered for induction
(6: 2P, 4PP). Not all knew they could attend ELB courses and avail of support a
perception prevailed that they had to be in a school for six weeks before they could
register, and any observation of their teaching would be limited. Most were
102 L. Abbott et al.
convinced that induction simply was not for supply teachers, with one voicing
concerns about adverse career implications:
I missed out oncourses so though Im half way through my induction year, Im goingto have to go back and [complete] themwhy dont you just do induction witheverybody else and that way if youre applying for jobs you can at least say that youvestarted? (P, m)
I dont think its relevant for me at the moment because Im just going into schools on aday-to-day basis. (PP, f)
I sort of feel there is no point until you get a permanent job. I got one person [observing]me [who] gave me feedback, but only one. (PP, m)
Career Entry Profile
Just over half the BTs were asked for their CEP (16: 7P, 9PP), all either permanent or
temporary definitely prominent (P, f, t), but an almost equal number were not,
mostly temporary or supply teachers (14: 8P, 6PP) nobody asked for it (P, f, s);
one VP sort of scanned over it, but didnt comment (P, m, s). One supply teacher in
seven different primary schools was asked for her CEP only once she obtained a
permanent position: they were concerned that I still had it so I could do my
inductionno other school mentioned it (P, f, s). Another believed the short
duration of his employment in different schools precluded sustained work on his
CEP, but tried to focus on a limited area himself:
The CEP was left to me and what I thought I had to improve onbut I did take onboard what I wanted to achievetook a smaller section [as] it would have beenimpossible to take a big topic and work on that in just a few months. (P, m, s)
Post-primary counterparts also had vastly differing experiences dependent on
employment status, with permanent BTs proclaiming:
Complete [and] two action plans done. (PP, m, p)
Excellent. It made total sense and I knew exactly what to do. It wasnt just a paperexercise, but an integrated part of professional development. (PP, f, p)
The areas, well call them weaknesses, that I really wanted to improve upon, I thought,OK, lets go for that for induction year things that all beginning teachers worryabout, classroom management, owning the space in your room and really motivatingthe kidsall part of my induction. (PP, f, t)
By contrast, two in a supply capacity one in three schools and the other in eight
when asked if their CEP had been requested said, respectively: No, never (PP, m, s)
and (emphatically) No! (PP, f, s). Another, teaching in two schools, perceived it as
a complete waste of time. Complete waste of time (PP, m, s).
Personal Action Plans
Most BTs pursued a Personal Action Plan linked to their own (and classroom/
school) needs, usually drawn up in consultation with the teacher tutor (23: 13P,
10PP). However, the nature and extent of interest taken in it varied markedly, as did
the links between this and the school development plan.
European Journal of Teacher Education 103
The first one, it kind of fitted in with the school development as wellintegratinginvestigative maths lessons into the six-week plannerthen I found that the literacyhour tended to slump, soI went to the induction training day for literacyit gave medifferent ideas for developing comprehension skills. (P, f, t)
The first [one] I did on positive discipline and introduced strategies into theclassroomthe second was on pastoral care [as] our school was reviewing the pastoralcare policy, so I became part of the core action group to bring it up to date. (P, f, t)
From the seven less fortunate individuals who were not pursuing an action plan (3P,
4PP) (5s, 2 t), one said despondently: Maybe next year (P, m).
Sources and nature of support during induction
The main source of support during induction was other beginning teachers
another P7 teacherwe work very closely together (P, m), followed by other
teachers any I turned to [were] willing (P, f), then teacher tutors observed and
gave me good feedback (P, f); [f]antastic[said] That isnt really a criticism, just
something you can improve on (PP, f). Head teachers and ELB induction officers
were each cited by about half the respondents (the former less so at post-primary
level). Few, however, mentioned support from former PGCE colleagues, vice-
principals or heads of department, and a small number in each case referred to
friends (especially those who were teachers) and relatives, and PGCE tutors (see
Table 3). No beginning teacher received support from the General Teaching Council,
typically commenting: I only hear from them when theyre taking money out of my
bank account! Clearly, support was not quite as expected from the lead partner
arrangements, which, during induction, was the responsibility of the ELBs, since the
support that was most valued (apart from support from peers) came from the
schools rather than induction personnel.
Most who identified the nature of support received said it concerned professional
development (14: 8P, 6PP) and the provision of resources (14: 6P, 8PP). Twelve
referred to advice and encouragement (6P, 6PP), six to help with action plans (4P,
2PP) and three to guidance on discipline (2P, 1PP). Seven primary BTs received help
with teaching strategies and four got information about their ELB. Data on these
Table 3. Sources of support for beginning teachers during induction (n530) (raw figures).
Source of support No. of beginning teachers Primary Post-primary
Other beginning teachers 24 15 9
Other teachers 20 11 9
Teacher tutors 18 10 8
Head teachers 16 12 4
ELB induction officers 15 10 5
Former PGCE colleagues 7 5 2
Vice-principals 5 5
Heads of department 3 3
Friends 2 2
Relatives 2 2
PGCE tutors 2 1 1
Teacher friends 2 2
104 L. Abbott et al.
two questions came from 15 temporary, six permanent and three supply teachers. Six
supply teachers could offer no responses to either source or nature of support.
Overall view of induction experience
From those who saw induction as favourable (23), all but two were in permanent or
temporary posts eight saying excellent; couldnt have asked for more (3P, 5PP),
five very good (3P, 2PP) and four good (3P, 1PP). Three in each case said OK(1P, 2PP) or not much good (3P). In sharp contrast, again, the remaining seven
BTs, all in a supply capacity, had no induction experience and could not respond.
I have no idea how to answer that one. I just didnt get [it] done. I didnt feel isolated,but I didnt feel like I got lots of support. (PP, m)
Another completed only the first half of induction, starting with a temporary period
of employment that was eventually extended in piecemeal fashion:
I never got that second part of the induction portfolio completed, or even started. Ididnt think, and the teacher tutor didnt think, that it would be worthwhile, which wasunfortunate because, in reality, I would have had enough time to complete it. (P, m)
This was regrettable as he believed that the pupils, the school and he himselfbenefited from his first action plan:
I took on the topic of thinking skills within the classan excuse to researchsomethingbenefits in the classroom and for the school. [Not] old-fashioned, but a lotof chalk, talk, work sheets and no chance for the kids to really think, why are we doingthis? and how are we doing it? and what are we learning from it?it really helped thekids, but it helped me as well because I was able to assess their work a lot better, and seeif they didnt understand something. (P, m)
Three supply teachers, whilst describing induction as Not good, nonetheless found
solace in peer support (3P):
If youre getting support from other teachers in the same situationits greatWe oftenswap resourcesplanning things together, getting ideasits good in that respect. (P, f)
The plight of the have nots
Compared with the satisfying induction experiences of the haves, the plight of the
have nots showed that whilst a very small number had some positive experiences,
most endured a post-qualification year characterised by random employment
obtained by selling themselves, even teaching subjects or working in a sector forwhich they were not trained. They did not register for induction, were unclear about
local authority provision, had no lesson observation or feedback, no mentoring and,
hence, no growth-producing experiences (Feiman-Nemser 2001, 35).
The scattered pattern of time in schools meant little or no interest was shown in
the Career Entry Profile, and all were disconsolate at not completing a PersonalAction Plan to focus on their own strengths and weakness within whole-school
development. Most could not identify sources of support, nor could they offer an
overall impression of induction simply because they did not have one, much less one
that embraced the ideal of coordinated, structured support, emotional relationality
(McNally and Gray 2006) and a process of enculturation (Feiman-Nemser 2003)
leading to the many ways to stimulate, guide and support the development of
professionals (Stokking et al. 2003, 333).
European Journal of Teacher Education 105
The key message is that the lived, professional reality of many beginning teachers
stands in unremittingly stark contrast to the induction policy put in place a decade
ago (Northern Ireland Teacher Education Committee and the Committee for Early
Professional Development 1998), developed for an era that no longer exists for most
new to teaching. Induction worked well for those in permanent or temporary posts,
but not for the rest, and any engagement with the process was disjointed and
disappointing. Clearly, there was no guarantee of the minimum entitlement, as
experiences were varied and entirely dependent on the school(s) in which supply
teachers found themselves. Without a contract, they could not develop their
professional identity and self-esteem (Kelchtermans and Ballet 2002), yet Sharp
(2006, 21) stressed that [a] comprehensive and adequate induction needs to be
provided to all beginning teachers, regardless of locality, teaching role and teaching
status contract or permanent. Further, what does induction mean for those
teaching outside their own subject specialism(s) (Veenman 1984) or school sector?
Moreover, given the lack of interest by some schools in CEPs (Bubb 2003), their
relevance for short-term and supply teachers must be questioned as not working as
intended (Totterdell et al. 2002, vii).
One option is the Scottish model, although a flexible approach is deemed
necessary as a one size fits all approach to determining the content of an ITEor
induction programmefor the early years of teaching will no longer work (General
Teaching Council for Northern Ireland 2005, 21). Pearson and Robson (2005, 18)
reported that the Teacher Induction Scheme was working well and [was] providing a
very positive experience for many probationer teachers, although inter alia the need
for careful selection of the supporter/mentor and more effective communication
between local authorities and schools were emphasised. There is strong support,
however, among NI stakeholders such as the General Teaching Council for Northern
Ireland, the Assembly and the teacher unions, for the benefits of a guaranteed induction
year for all BTs, although a ministerial response is still awaited. It may only be a
temporary solution and a more sustainable model is obviously needed, but the BT is at
least inducted into the profession at the right time. A number of key mechanisms are
suggested by which such a model might be achieved.
First, head teachers and induction staff should aim to give as much stability and
sustained support as possible to each supply or short-term temporary teacher, by
discussing, identifying and responding to their ongoing professional needs. Schools
would thus assume a key role in supporting all phases on the teacher education
continuum. The local education authorities should consider how this might best be
achieved and link it with relevant courses for induction tutors to help manage such
individuals support for the supporters (OBrien 2004), as Manyhave had
insufficient support and guidance themselves (Martin and Rippon 2005, 542). The
latter currently has the lead partner role in induction, yet BTs here found peers offered
most help, highlighting the need to focus on the emotionalrelational dimension
(McNally and Gray 2006). Again, the lead status is not as effective as envisaged.
Second, a different means of supporting induction may be through the
government-funded pilot project already underway involving all NI teacher training
institutions, whereby BTs moving between schools record their work using the
medium of e-portfolios (Osler 2005). They record planning, practice and reflection,
build confidence and capture enthusiasm, which may lead to the parallel
106 L. Abbott et al.
development of academic and professional qualifications. All new teachers should be
enabled to embed their practice through a coherent programme starting with
induction and embracing the whole career spectrum, and be able to explore the key
question: In what ways am I showing, or not showing, the qualities of a good
teacher? (McNally and Oberski 2003, 68). Seven of the 30 beginning teachers in this
study did not have an induction. They may be few, but they are there, they are
important and they reflect the wider picture.
Third, Osler (2005), in the recent policy review of teacher education in NI,
proposed extending and strengthening the role of HEIs across induction, early and
continuing professional development. This would be conditional upon having a
commitment to teaching duties in schools in parallel with their role as teacher
trainers and that the initial training which they will provide will be taught in part by
high quality serving teachers seconded by the employing authority for this
purposeThis would be a contractual commitment (14). Additionally, he suggested
that HEI staff involved in teacher education should teach in a school for a period of
not less than four weeks every year, and have a sabbatical on full-time attachment to
a school, staff filling a post every fifth year (22). He advocated much greater use of
high-quality teachers as part-time contributors to the ITE Theory in College,
adding that mentoring by such teachers should be part of professional development
for ITE staff. The language and tone of this document is unambiguous. It specifically
advocates integrating induction more seamlessly with ITE but with responsibility
moving from the HEI to the school, with support from a teacher education mentor.
This would result in continuity of style in training and a maximising of the influence
of known mentors in the early weeks of teaching. A more sustainable model could
therefore be created, characterised by interconnectedness, variety, co-ordination,
responsiveness and dynamism (Britton et al. 2003, 5), in which new teachers are
likely both to develop and thrive (Darling-Hammond 2006).
As the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland re-writes the Teacher
education partnership handbook, this paper gives a voice to BTs whose professional
future depends on its deliberations. Their voices should also be heard in the
consultations which must take place to ensure that the revised arrangements are
more appropriate than the existing ones. BTs deserve a more flexible, more
pragmatic and more professional induction, providing a model for other countries
who share with NI the rare luxury of having talented young people clamouring to
enter the profession. Professor Christopher Day, addressing the General Teaching
Council for Northern Ireland, urged that teacher commitment, resilience and
effectiveness a passion for teaching cannot be taken for granted. Rather, it needs
to be nurtured and sustained (Day 2007, 4). This is a compelling vision within the
collective endeavour of induction, the cornerstone of the teacher education
continuum and, as Britton et al. assert:
Comprehensive induction systems go far beyond support or assistance, using a varietyof co-ordinated means tailored to perceptions of the novices and the general educationsystems requirements. (Britton et al. 2003, 5)
1. This Northern Ireland (NI) term is used interchangeably with newly qualified teacher
European Journal of Teacher Education 107
Notes on contributors
Lesley Abbott is a lecturer in education (research methods) at the University of Ulster. Her
research interests lie in the professional needs of newly qualified teachers, learning support
staff, inclusive practices and integrated education.
Anne Moran is professor of education and dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the
University of Ulster. Before taking up the post of dean in 2002, she was head of the School of
Education. Her research interests are in the areas of teacher education and inclusive schooling.
Linda Clarke is a lecturer in education (geography) at the University of Ulster. Her research
interests lie in teacher education, critical reflective practice, the use of virtual learning
environments (VLEs) to support teacher education in online communities of practice,
geography education and local and global citizenship.
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