Why subject knowledge must be at the heart of teachers' early career framework


Dear Sir,

We were collectively pleased to note the emphasis that has been given to good subject knowledge within the Government's Recruitment and Retention strategy and in the accompanying Early Career Framework. We wholeheartedly agree that developing teachers’ subject knowledge early in their career is essential for developing their expertise as quickly as possible, ensuring their self-efficacy and increasing the importance and value they attach to their professional development. These improvements would drive forward better retention rates, enhanced professional practice and improved outcomes for students.

There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that early career teachers are given an opportunity to gain the subject-specific expertise and pedagogic knowledge that could influence the rest of their professional lives.

Conversely, a generic scheme would have little impact, and two consequences would follow from this lack of subject-specific support: the first is that early career secondary teachers would not develop as quickly or effectively as subject teachers as they might have done; the second is that they would be more likely to leave the profession in their early years

We urge the DfE to consider the importance of subject-specific mentoring and professional development in the implementation of the Early Career Framework. Our recommendation is that at least 50% of mentoring and development time, especially for a subject specialist secondary teacher, should be dedicated to subject-specific aspects of professional learning.

Yours truly,


Alan Kinder, Geographical Association

Charles Tracy, Institute of Physics

Charlie Stripp, Mathematics in Education and Industry

Lauren McLeod, Royal Society of Biology

Marianne Cutler, Association for Science Education

Nicole Morgan, Royal Society of Chemistry

Rebecca Sullivan, Historical Association

Steve Brace, Royal Geographical Society

Tony Ryan, Design and Technology Association