The First Three Years: Experiences of Early Career Teachers

From Section:
Beginning Teachers
Jun. 01, 2011

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 17, No. 3, June 2011, 325–343.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This small-scale research study explores early career teachers' (ECTs) perceptions of factors shaping the quality of their early professional learning (EPL) experiences. Their perspective relating to curriculum change and its impact on EPL is considered.
A literature review provides a background to the research questions.

Research questions

The literature review identified three research questions:
● What factors have enabled ECTs’ EPL?
● What factors have constrained ECTs’ EPL?
● What are ECTs’ views relating to curriculum change and how does this impact on their EPL?

The study draws on qualitative data to investigate the perspective of 14 early career secondary geography teachers in Scotland as they reflect on their first three years of teaching. All the participants completed their Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in geography at the same Scottish university in 2005–2006.
Individual semi-structured interviews were completed during June 2008 at the end of the ECTs’ second post-induction year.


This study exemplifies the issues faced by one cohort of ECTs in their first three years and identifies important and recurrent factors which have enabled, constrained and shaped their progress.

The data gathered indicate that departmental or faculty groupings can form the basis of post-induction support and play a crucial role in enhancing or constraining ECTs’ EPL and attitudes towards curriculum change. The emotional and relational dimensions of the faculty system, concerns linked to loss of subject identity and shrinking budgets present challenges. Subject identity emerged as an important issue for many of the ECTs in relation to the structure of schools and level of support offered.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Attitudes of teachers | Barriers | Beginning teachers | Curriculum development | Educational change | Professional learning | Reflection | Teaching experience