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25 March 2021

Supporting newly qualified and trainee teachers to overcome pandemic challenges

A new research project led by the School of Education, Communication & Society aims to develop recommendations to support new secondary school teachers as they start out in their chosen profession.

School pupil taking part in online lesson with teacher

A new research project has been launched to support newly qualified and trainee secondary school teachers to remain in the profession and ensure that teachers early in their career can achieve their potential, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Since March 2020, many new ways of working have arisen for trainee and newly qualified teachers (NQTs), including parts of their school placements going online, dealing with different COVID-secure measures in schools and experiencing changes to their pattern of training caused by periods of self-isolation.

A new project by the School of Education, Communication & Society at King’s, being launched this April will look at the impacts of these challenges, and make recommendations for policymakers, school leaders and the teacher training sector, to help support affected secondary school teachers during their training and NQT years.

The aim is to ensure that new teachers can adapt to life in the classroom, will want to remain in their chosen profession and so help to deliver high quality education for their pupils whose learning has been disrupted over the past 12 months.

The project is being funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19 with a grant of £224,000. Dr Elizabeth Rushton and Dr Simon Gibbons, of ECS, will lead a team of academics from the School, and the research will include surveys and interviews with trainees, NQTs, school leaders, and staff across the King’s Initial Teacher Education Partnership.


We know from our initial research over the last six months that the pandemic has created many challenges and new ways of working for trainee and newly qualified teachers.

Dr Elizabeth Rushton

She said the new research project will look at the effect of these experiences on newly qualified and trainee secondary school teachers, as well as gather information on the additional skills and opportunities they may have gained during this time. These will take place over 18 months, so that participants’ experiences are captured during both the training year and the first year of practice as an NQT.

This learning will ensure that new entrants to the profession are valued and receive ongoing support, so they can thrive and will want to remain in their new careers to help deliver excellent outcomes for the 3.4 million secondary school pupils whose education has been so disrupted since March last year.

Dr Elizabeth Rushton

The team, in collaboration with the King’s Policy Institute, will use the findings to articulate the range of challenges and opportunities faced by trainee teachers, NQTs and the sector more widely, and then, will develop feasible and scalable policy recommendations to support the continued development and retention of secondary school teachers across the UK.

Retaining teachers in the profession is a long-standing challenge that impacts schools across the country, especially in the secondary sector. We believe that this research will provide school leaders and those involved in teacher education and professional development with practical and specific guidance to improve the retention of teachers in the first few years of their careers, when they are most likely to leave.

Dr Simon Gibbons

In this story

Elizabeth Rushton

Former Lecturer in Geography Education

Simon Gibbons

Reader in English Education Director of Teacher Education