10 SES 12 E, Research on Teacher Induction and Early Career Teachers
Relationships influence the ways in which people cope with stress, access support and advice, learn, collaborate, and find fulfilment in their work. Understanding the relational factors that make it more likely that some people will either not complete their training or leave the profession in their early career could inform earlier and effective interventions for early career teachers (Joiner and Edwards, 2008). Suffolk and Norfolk School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme, one of England’s largest, commissioned Relational Schools, in partnership with Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing and the Open University, to carry out a five-year longitudinal research and development programme. This explores the impact of a trainee teacher’s social and professional relationships on their success as a trainee and thereafter as a teacher. The research is set against the backdrop of an international crisis in teacher retention, particularly acute in their early careers (e.g. OECD, 2005; Worth and de Lazzari, 2017). The intervention combines identification of vulnerable training teachers with generating data to inform the planned deployment of financial and human capital, aimed to maximize retention.
Beginning teachers can find support from; within teacher training programmes, established teachers during school placements and their existing social networks (Fox and Wilson, 2015). However, they show different networking proactivity (Fox et al, 2011), associated with behavioural styles linked to their senses of agency and self-efficacy (Wilson, 2012). Evidence from healthcare (McManus et al, 2004; Chen et al, 2016) indicates prosocial characteristics can be measured in ways which predict workplace satisfaction, resilience and retention, in ways thought likely to transfer to similar professional contexts. One vulnerability linked to personal support networks is when young professionals move geographically to take up training/early career positions (Ashcroft et al, 2016). Professional network development relates to the work environments individuals find themselves (Fox et al, 2011).
The SCITT partnership on which this paper is based identified and trialled new relational management and training practices, using Cambridge Assessment’s Cambridge Personal Styles Questionnaire (CPSQ), a socio-map of trainees’ personal and professional networks and Relational Schools’ Relational Proximity Framework (RPF) tool. This paper reports on data from the first year of this collaborative project (2017-2021), which focused on stress testing the relational tools. This contributes to the call from European authors for “a more detailed understanding on the relationships through which collegial support may (or may not) flow …[to] provide valuable insight into levers to strengthen BTs’ support networks” (Thomas et al, 2019, p2).
The SCITT provider runs two parallel programmes as routes into teaching in both primary (for 4-11 year olds) and secondary (for 11-18 year olds) schools. Trainees spend two thirds of their training year in two different school placements and the remaining third in the SCITT centre, aiming to graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education accredited by the University of Suffolk and national Qualified Teacher Status. The project will extend both research and development from beginning teacher’s training year through to the first cohort’s fourth year of practice. The research element for the first cohort involved 96 trainees (63 primary and 33 secondary), recruited through voluntary consent, to examine how their social and emergent professional networks correlated with measures of their resilience and success. The development element involves SCITT programme leaders and tutors responding to data collected to inform their support of trainees. In the first year, development principally focused on evaluating the utility and timeliness of the three tools. Together, the project aims to inform timely and well-directed beginning teacher support, making explicit the benefits of social capital in building professional capital (Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012) and empowering early career teachers through building their relational resilience.
The study adopted a sequential explanatory mixed methods design. Analysis of quantitative data collected from three relational tools determined the analysis of qualitative data collected from interviews associated with the generation of trainee socio-maps. In an integration of the quantitative data set, measures of resilience and relationship quality were correlated with performance outcomes. This analysis, together with the subsequent analysis of qualitative data from the interviews, revealed possible risk and protective factors associated with successful completion of the training course. The quantitative data set was built from the following tools: In an initial survey, trainees at Suffolk and Norfolk SCITT who opted into the study provided demographic data together with their perception of support received from their social network. Within three weeks of starting the programme trainees were invited to complete the CPSQ. This is a computer-based assessment of personal styles or traits of significance to caring professions, covering competencies thought by teacher trainers to be relevant to this context. Respondents’ rate, and sometimes rank, to what extent a set of behavioural statements reflect how they typically act. Its’ scales measure individual behavioural dimensions that are reported against a healthcare competency framework to assist with score interpretation. After three months, associated with an interview, and repeated around nine months into the programme, participant trainees completed relational socio-maps. These record pictorially the closeness of a web of relationships around an individual. On a template resembling a dartboard, the trainees marked their significant friendships and relationships. Each trainee also marked the geographical proximity of their relationships and the overlap in support between their personal and professional connections. The maps highlighted those with particularly strong and weak networks which allowed identification of where additional support might be valuable. After completing the initial socio-map, the specific relationship between the trainee and their tutor was analysed through the use of the RPF. This 20-question survey measures the closeness of a relationship using five drivers: directness of communication, continuity of story, multiplexity of information, parity of power and commonality of purpose (Ashcroft et al, 2016). CPSQ, Sociomap and RPF data was correlated with trainee outcomes. Following analyses performed on the combined dataset to identify tentative correlations, supplementary qualitative analysis was completed using purposeful sampling of interviews associated with sociomaps for trainees a) who withdrew, including four additional exit interviews (n=11), b) who lived alone (n=6) or with friends (n=3) and c) strong performers (n=16).
This paper’s findings are considered relevant internationally for all those contexts in which teacher retention during training and early years is an issue. The contributions are firstly in explaining the potential of assessment tools and management practices to increase support for entrants to the teaching profession. Secondly, the paper offers guidance on using these tools as methods of researching issues affecting early career teacher retention. The first year of the reported project is informing the second year through refining the timing, nature and use of the relational tools for stronger developmental use. The following relational factors to retention during training are tentatively proposed: Risk factors Multiple CPSQ personality trait flags; low or high CPSQ scores for self-management; low CPSQ score for working with others; being male; not living with family/partner; having children of primary school age; no previous friends who have worked with to draw upon; losing touch with longstanding friends; non-engagement with social media groupings with peers; lack of support with planning. Protective factors High CPSQ scores for coping or caring and compassion; using friends and family for relaxation and, if have children, practical help; having friends and family who also help professionally; strong relationship with mentor; strong relationship with tutor(s); strong relationships with other staff in schools, in particular teaching assistants; positive experiences of using social media with peers. The above factors need to be further explored with subsequent cohorts of trainees on the SCITT programmes. Higher recruitment to contribute data has been achieved for cohort two due to changes in the information provided and transparency of data sharing. A more secure evidence-base for identifying factors derived from use of the tools will also be gained through follow-up socio-mapping and interviews with former trainees to strengthen understanding of how teachers’ relationships can support their ongoing retention.
Ashcroft, J., Childs, R., Myers, A. and Schluter, M. (2016) The Relational Lens: Understanding, managing and measuring stakeholder relationships. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chen, L. C., Perng, S. J., Chang, F. M., & Lai, H. L. (2016). Influence of work values and personality traits on intent to stay among nurses at various types of hospital in Taiwan. Journal of Nursing Management, 24(1), 30-38. Fox, A., Wilson, E. and Deaney, R. (2011) Beginning teachers’ workplace experiences: their perceptions and use of support, Vocations and Learning, 4(1):1-24. Fox, A. and Wilson, E. (2015) Networking and the development of professionals: beginning teachers building social capital, Teaching and Teacher Education, 47(1), 93-107. Joiner, S., & Edwards, J. (2008). Novice teachers: Where are they going and why don’t they stay? Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education, 1(1), 36–43. Hargreaves, A. and Fullan, M. (2012) Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, New York: Teachers College Press. McManus, I.C., Keeling, A., Paice, E., (2004). Stress, burnout and doctors’ attitudes to work are determined by personality and learning style: A twelve year longitudinal study of UK medical graduates. BMC Medicine, 2 (1), 29. OECD. (2005). Teachers matter. Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris: OECD. Thomas, L, Tuytens, M., Moolenaar, N., Devos, G., Kelchtermans, G. & Vanderlinde, R. (2019): Teachers’ first year in the profession: the power of high-quality support, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 25(2), https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2018.1562440 Wilson, E. (2012) Building social capital in teacher education through university–school partnership. In M. Evans, (Ed). Teacher Education and Pedagogy: Theory, Policy and Practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Worth, J. and De Lazzari, G. (2017) Teacher Retention and Turnover Research Research Update 1: Teacher Retention by Subject, Slough: NFER.
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