Academic contribution of the research: To inform debates about enhancing the long-term professional development of early career teachers (ECTs), from induction to career year five.
Overarching aim: To examine policy conceptions of learning for professional judgement and compare these with conceptions amongst pre-service and early career teachers whilst considering the implications for stakeholders.
Rationale for the study: High rates of attrition during the first years of teaching have led to a significant shortage of teachers in Wales; as a result, strategies to strengthen the professional learning of ECTs are a key feature of Wales’ new national workforce plan. Early career support will be consistent with the drivers of the National Approach to Professional Learning, a new professional development model, that aims to ensure the teaching workforce have the required knowledge and skills to build the implementation of the new curriculum.
The literature indicates that top-down pressure to reform will not yield the outcomes desired, and that professional judgement is required to help cope with increasing change, which is of particular importance to ECTs when professional identity is less stable. Scrutinising policy documents will provide a unique opportunity to understand, at this juncture, what might limit or help ECTs to exercise their own judgements.
The qualitative study will compare the participants’ conceptions of learning that supports their own professional judgement with the model of professional learning in policy structures and discourse. This study will also include pre-service teachers which could provide fresh insights into, if and why, ECTs experience a start to the profession that is too abrupt.