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Implementation of ECF in Schools

You need to allow plenty time to implement a complex intervention like the ECF. The process of implementation can begin right away, but it will not finish at the start of the new school year when the programme begins, or even when your first ECTs have completed the programme after two years.
© UCL Institute of Education

In order to get the maximum chance of success for an intervention, careful attention needs to be paid to implementation. In this article Becky Taylor introduces some key implementation issues for consideration, based on guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

Intervention Fails Without Proper Implementation

Research suggests that many interventions fail to achieve the desired outcomes because of poor implementation. Perhaps the programme enacted in school is not similar enough to the intervention that was designed. Perhaps not all staff are committed to the intervention, or enthusiasm tails off over time. Perhaps there are difficulties with accessing or using resources, or other work becomes a priority. You can help avoid this being the fate of the ECF in your school by planning thoroughly for implementation and preparing and following an implementation plan.

Foundations For Good Implementation

The following recommendations are based on six foundations for good implementation from the EEF. You can read more about their implementation guidance in the materials linked at the bottom of the page.

Implementation of the ECF is a Process

You need to allow plenty time to implement a complex intervention like the ECF. The process of implementation can begin right away, but it will not finish at the start of the new school year when the programme begins, or even when your first ECTs have completed the programme after two years. You should see implementation as an ongoing process, which involves not just setting up the ECF in your school, but also delivering and sustaining the programme – and monitoring it as you go along.

If you are going to be introducing the ECF in your school this year, you may want to reflect on what are your school’s other development priorities. Trying to do too many things at once can mean that implementation is less successful as people and resources are stretched. You may need to stop some other activities in order to release capacity for the ECF. The ECF programmes have been designed as complete interventions, so there might be NQT induction activities that you have used in your school in the past that you can now stop doing.

Gather Your Implementation Team

School leaders can manage the implementation of the ECF, but they are also responsible for creating a climate in the school that supports the introduction of the ECF. The pilot ECF programmes were most successful in schools where they had strong support from senior leadership. You will need to prepare your school for the ECF, which might include creating a vision and identifying key colleagues who can help make it happen and overcome any blocks.

You should think carefully about who is going to lead implementation. It is a good idea to bring together an implementation team. Who you include will depend on the size of your school, but it is essential to include a member of the senior leadership team who is able to make school-level decisions. You might also want to consider including the induction lead, at least one mentor, the person who creates the school timetable, and someone who can support with IT.

Choosing Your ECF Programme

All ECTs starting in schools in September 2021 have an entitlement to support through the ECF. This means that you need to decide how to implement the ECF in your school.

The DfE has commissioned six suppliers for the ECF. You can choose one of these programmes to implement – either as a full induction programme which provides a full package of support including training and resources, or as a core induction programme in which your school designs its own programme based around the resources from one of the suppliers. Alternatively you can create your own programme.

We recommend that you implement a full induction programme, unless you are very confident about your school’s capacity to create an ECF programme. The programmes are designed as complete interventions and address all areas of the ECF, as well as providing support and training for mentors.

You should explore the available programmes carefully and choose one that fits in well with your school’s ethos and approach to professional development. You can use the link at the bottom of this page to read more about your options and the six suppliers (sometimes called providers).

Preparing for Implemention

This stage is where most of your time will be focused before the programme starts. The EEF recommend that you approach it as three sets of activities: – developing your implementation plan – assessing your school’s readiness for implementation – making practical preparations.

In order to complete these, you will need a really good understanding of the programme you have decided to implement. It is well worth spending time familiarising yourself will all aspects of the programme in order to be able to write your implementation plan and get your school ready for the programme.

Applying the ECF For the First Time

Delivering an intervention for the first time can be a difficult time, as colleagues get used to the new programme and new ways of working. The ECF is different to previous models of NQT induction, with a new entitlement for ECT learning in specific areas, and to support from a mentor over two years. ECF programmes may require colleagues to work in ways that differ from their accustomed practices and which may not come easily at first.

You will need to monitor implementation and identify and respond to barriers and enablers as the programme proceeds. This might include: – keeping mentors and ECTs motivated – identifying and finding solutions to problems – supporting mentors in particular as they develop their mentoring skills – keeping mentors and ECTs focused on the research-informed programme.

Monitoring and Improving the ECF in Your School

The sustain phase begins once an intervention is embedded in your school, for example when the second group of ECTs starts on the programme. We will not focus on the sustain phase here, other than to note that to keep the ECF working successfully in your school you will need to continue to monitor the programme in subsequent years.

© UCL Institute of Education
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