What is an NQT/ECT Teacher?

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Teaching is a very well-known occupation in the social sector, but it can be difficult to know where to start if you want to research further. It isn’t as simple as just being a primary school or secondary school teacher – there are a lot of different terms and qualifications, and these can be difficult to navigate! Two such terms are ‘NQT’ and ‘ECT’ – what do they mean, and what does the role encompass?

NQT and ECT refer to the status of a teacher, meaning Newly Qualified Teacher and Early Career Teacher respectively. ‘ECT’ has actually replaced ‘NQT’ because they have relatively similar meanings: both refer to teachers that have achieved QTS, completed their ITT, and are now allowed to teach in school settings. ECT teachers have to complete an induction for 2 years, after which they will no longer be known as an ECT specifically.

Don’t worry if these terms are still confusing, there’s a lot to unpack! This article will tell you what you need to know about the roles of NQT and ECT teachers, and the qualifications you need to become one!

What is QTS?

QTS stands for Qualified Teacher Status and is a legal requirement for teachers in a large number of schools in England. Only academy and free schools (in the state school sector), and private and independent schools (in the non-state sector) are allowed to employ teachers without QTS.

You can find all of this information and more in this article from Think Student.

QTS is awarded by the Teaching Regulation Agency – the TRA – and the agency can also award QTS outside of England. If you’d like to know more about the TRA and what they do, check out this page of the government website.

Teachers in England who successfully achieve QTS will have it put on their teacher record and receive a certificate to prove their status.

How do you achieve QTS?

There are 3 ways that a teacher may be able to achieve QTS.

Firstly, you can get QTS through initial teacher training (ITT), which is something I’ll discuss later in the article. You can complete teacher training as an undergraduate or postgraduate.

Secondly, QTS is offered through assessment-only programmes. These are suitable for people who have already completed training and may have already worked as an unqualified teacher, in multiple schools.

Thirdly, if you’ve already qualified as a teacher outside of England, you can still get QTS recognised by English schools. If you qualified in Wales, your QTS is automatically recognised in England. If you qualified in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or a country outside of the UK, you could apply for QTS.

You can read more about these options through Get into Teaching, linked here.

What is ITT?

ITT stands for Initial Teacher Training. It is a necessary part of attaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Most of teacher training will be practical, meaning you will complete observed and unobserved teaching, workshops, and seminars. Teachers are provided with a mentor to help support them in placements and learning, and to provide feedback and guidance.

Classroom experience should cover 120 days throughout your teacher training course. Teachers must undertake classroom experience no matter if they’ve received school-led or university-led training. There is also ‘theoretical’ training, which involves assignments and involvement with academic or professional research.

All this information, and more details about ITT and what it encompasses, can be found on this page of the Get into Teaching website.

What is an NQT teacher?

Defined by Indeed on their website, an NQT teacher is “a teacher who has recently completed their teaching education”. “NQT” stands for Newly Qualified Teacher.

An NQT teacher will have completed their initial teacher training and will have gained qualified teacher status, but they won’t have completed the necessary induction period of 2 years.

An NQT teacher will have to complete an induction to be able to teach in schools. They can complete their induction in maintained schools, independent schools, and even independent schools overseas.

What is the difference between PGCE and NQT qualification?

The difference between a PGCE and an NQT qualification is that a PGCE is an optional qualification alongside an NQT qualification.

As seen on the Prospects website linked for you here, if you want to become an NQT teacher, you do not need a PGCE, you just need QTS. However, a PGCE can help if you want to teach in countries outside of England and Wales.

A PGCE stands for Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, which is a Masters-level qualification. You can achieve Qualified Teacher Status without a PGCE!

If you’re planning on becoming a qualified teacher in England and Wales, then you can achieve NQT status without ever needing a PGCE. However, if you are training to become a teacher in England with the aim of teaching abroad, for example in the USA, then a PGCE is definitely recommended.

How much do NQT teachers get paid?

An NQT is the lowest point of the pay scale for classroom teachers, since NQTs don’t have as much experience as teachers who have been teaching for several years.

According to Get Into Teaching, if you have Qualified Teacher Status (which NQT teachers must have), then the starting salary for an NQT teacher in a primary or secondary school is at least £30,000. You can read more about this statistic on the Get Into Teaching website linked here.

However, as an NQT, your salary will be reviewed yearly, and will probably increase. Additionally, NQT teachers in London earn up to £6,000 more as a starting salary than teachers outside of London.

Can you be a supply teacher without being an NQT teacher?

The answer to this question is no, and there are even restrictions on supply work for NQT teachers. In England, NQTs are able to complete less than one term’s worth of supply teaching without completing an induction for up to 5 years after they achieved QTS.

However, supply teachers are required to have the same qualifications as a permanent teacher to be able to teach, therefore you cannot be a supply teacher without being an NQT teacher.

What is an ECT teacher?

ECT teachers are teachers in the early stages of their career, who have been teaching for less than 2 years. After a teacher gains ECT status by achieving QTS and completing their ITT training, they are legally required to complete an induction lasting 2 years that will allow them to teach in schools across England and Wales.

‘ECT’ simply refers to the stage of their career at which the teacher is, so once they complete their induction, the ‘ECT’ is dropped from their title because they are no longer considered ‘early career’.

What is an ECT induction?

An ECT induction is similar in many ways to initial teacher training. ECTs will have to teach and observe lessons in order to show that they meet teachers’ standards and will have an induction tutor to give feedback and assess you as you do so.

However, there are also 2 formal assessments halfway through and at the end of the induction. To read all about an ECT induction and more, check out this page of Get Into Teaching.

Is ECT the same as an NQT teacher?

An ECT teacher means ‘early career teacher’ and is essentially the same as an NQT teacher – the term ‘ECT’ has replaced ‘NQT’ due to the similarity of their roles.

Therefore, if you see somebody referred to as an ECT and not an NQT, they mean the same thing, so the term ‘NQT’ is being used less.

Do you need QTS to be an ECT teacher?

Yes, you must have achieved Qualified Teacher Status in order to become an early career teacher. It is not possible to progress to an ECT without first achieving QTS and then completing your initial teacher training, so you cannot be an ECT without them.

This is to make sure that schools maintain a high standard of teaching across England.

Can you fail your ECT induction?

Yes, it is technically possible to fail your ECT induction.

The ECT induction is assessed based on the ECF (early career framework). According to the government website, “ECF-based training is not an assessment tool, and you cannot fail any part of it.” You can read more about this on this page of the government website.

Even so, it is still possible to fail your induction. I’ll explain how later in the article, so keep reading to find out more.

What happens if you fail your ECT induction?

According to the National Teacher Accreditation, linked here, “if your Head or Appropriate Body do not think that you have successfully met the Teachers’ Standards, you will fail your induction and will not be allowed to teach in a maintained school.”

Failing your induction means that you will be deregistered as a teacher, and would only be allowed to teach in an independent school or as a private tutor. However, the NTA does specify that your QTS will not be revoked, and you will be allowed to appeal to the Teaching Regulation Agency within 20 working days of receiving your decision.

Are ECT teachers inspected by Ofsted?

Although ECT teachers may be observing or teaching a class while there is an Ofsted inspection, and Ofsted inspectors may observe this class, generally, ECT teachers will not be directly inspected by Ofsted.

According to this article by Ofsted on the government website, “Ofsted inspectors will not grade individual lessons taught by ECTs or NPQ participants, or sessions led by trainers or mentors.” This means that even if Ofsted are inspecting the school, they will be made aware of who the ECT teachers are and will not inspect them.

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