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The DfE's Golden Thread

Extract taken from the DfE's Delivering world-class teacher development Policy paper March 2022.

The DfE's teacher development reforms have created a ‘golden thread’ of high-quality evidence underpinning the support, training and development available through the entirety of a teacher’s career. Below, we have broken down how the reforms apply to every career phase.

Initial Teacher Training

Teachers are made, not born. Great teachers continuously improve over time, benefitting from the mentoring of expert colleagues and a structured introduction to the core body of knowledge, skills and behaviours that define great teaching. All new entrants to the profession will benefit from initial teacher training (ITT) courses that incorporate the content of the ITT Core Content Framework (CCF), published in September 2020, which sets out what ITT providers and their partnerships must draw upon when designing and delivering their programmes. In response to a review of the ITT market, the DfE is introducing a new set of quality requirements for ITT providers from September 2024 to ensure every trainee benefits from a world-class introduction to the theory and practice of great teaching.

Early Career Framework reforms

Teachers deserve high-quality support throughout their careers, particularly in those first years after ITT when the learning curve is steepest.

The Early Career Framework (ECF) reforms entitle all early career teachers to a funded, two-year package of structured training and support linked to the best available research evidence. The simplest option, and the option most schools have taken, is to use a DfE funded training provider who will deliver a comprehensive programme of face-to-face and online training. Lead providers will be inspected by Ofsted so schools can be assured that this training will remain high-quality, and the support is fully funded so there are no costs for schools.

A small number of schools may also choose to develop their own induction programmes based on high-quality materials accredited by the DfE or design a programme themselves based on the ECF.

Appropriate Bodies have a role in checking that early career teachers are receiving a programme of support and training based on the ECF. This will be alongside their current role ensuring that new teachers receive their statutory entitlements and are fairly and consistently assessed.

Coupled with the ITT Core Content Framework, the ECF has established an entitlement to a three-year structured and evidence-informed package of support for all new teachers at the start of their careers. Together, these reforms will become the cornerstone of a successful career in teaching.


Beyond the first few years of teaching, the DfE's priority is to help all teachers and school leaders to continuously develop their expertise throughout their careers so every child in every classroom in every school gets the best start in life.

National professional qualifications (NPQs) are a national, voluntary suite of qualifications, designed to support the professional development of teachers and leaders. The Middle Leadership NPQ has been replaced with three new specialist NPQs to best address the broad range of responsibilities of current and aspiring middle leaders. These qualifications are:

  1. NPQ in Leading Teacher Development: developing teachers who are responsible for the training and development of others, including early career teachers;
  2. NPQ in Leading Teaching: developing teachers who are subject leads or responsible for improving teaching practice in a subject or phase; and
  3. NPQ in Leading Behaviour and Culture: developing teachers who have responsibilities for leading behaviour and culture. We will add a fourth specialist NPQ from September 2022:
  4. NPQ in Leading Literacy: developing teachers who have responsibilities for leading literacy across a school, year group, key stage or phase.

From Spring 2024, there will also be a new NPQ in Maths Mastery introduced.


The three existing NPQs in Senior Leadership, Headship and Executive Leadership have also been refreshed with th inclusion of a new leadership programme, NPQ in Early Years Leadership. These refreshed qualifications acknowledge the complexity of school leadership and address that many senior leaders deliver through leadership teams in addition to having specific whole school responsibilities of their own.

The Specialist and Leadership NPQs will provide training and support for teachers and school leaders at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high quality teaching practice, such as behaviour management, to those leading multiple schools across trusts.

As part of the government’s education recovery plan, we are investing £184 million in training scholarships for teachers and leaders employed in state-funded schools, as well as those employed in state-funded organisations that offer 16 to 19 places in England. NPQs complete the golden thread, running from ITT through to school leadership, rooting teacher and school leader development in the best available evidence and collective wisdom of the profession.