The Golden thread of teacher development in computing: ITT, ECF, NPQs and the NCCE

15 February 2022

This September saw a pivotal shift in teacher development with a complete overhaul from the Department for Education (DfE) to implement a “golden thread’ of teacher development.

It included the launch of the Early Career Framework (ECF), which underpins a two-year programme of support for Early Career Teachers (previously NQTs) where a mentor provides support as they follow a fully-funded programme of professional development based on the framework.

Teaching schools and NPQs

NPQs (National Professional Qualifications), the DfE-accredited qualifications designed to support the development of teachers and leaders, have recently been completely reformed, offering a growing suite of qualifications delivered to NPQ frameworks. All NPQs are fully-funded for state schools and will strengthen leadership capacity at all levels across the school system. Recently published, too, are the results of the ITT market review, signalling imminent changes to the delivery of Initial Teacher Training.

To deliver this new programme, the DfE has created the teaching school hub programme that sees 87 hubs established across the country to replace the previous 750 teaching schools. These hubs will deliver this golden thread of teacher development and act as an Appropriate Body for early career teachers. They will also integrate the work of curriculum hubs in their area, through joint planning and partnership.

At Sandringham Computing Hub, the Hub leads Christian Turton and Dan Smith have also become Deputy Directors of the Alban Teaching School Hub to support its strategic development. In doing so we’ve had a unique opportunity to consider how the evidence-informed NCCE CPD can support the golden thread of teacher development.

The Golden Thread for primary teachers

At Alban Teaching School Hub, we’ve been working with the Alban Federation ITT provision through our remit as a Computing Hub by delivering the Introduction to Primary Computing course for their primary trainees, which offers a fantastic introduction to the curriculum. ITT teachers also explore the Teach Computing Curriculum to help them develop knowledge of evidence-informed curriculum design.

In our first year delivering the ECF, we have been very aware of the demands on schools and ECTs and are actively signposting support from all curriculum hubs. We’ve also offered a programme of subject enhancement sessions to signpost key resources and discuss challenges for those starting out teaching computing.

As teachers become more confident teaching computing, Primary Programming and Algorithmswill develop an understanding of pedagogy and progression and gives first-hand experience of what this looks like in practice.  To support time out of school for teachers to attend CPD, the NCCE offers bursaries for all state-funded schools.

For those who work in special schools or have a role in leading on SEND provision, the excellent online course Creating an inclusive classroom is available to support them to implement strategies that make a difference to all learners. Additionally, Outstanding primary computing for all can help encourage all learners to engage with, and be inspired by, computing.

For computing subject leaders, Leading primary computing can help them develop an outstanding curriculum, supporting others through coaching techniques, assessment, enrichment and planning change. To take their learning further, they can work towards the NCCE’s primary certificate or study the NPQ in Leading Teaching.

The Golden Thread for secondary teachers

Secondary computing trainees have never had such a unique opportunity to be supported to develop their practice, with the NCCE’s Computer Science Accelerator offering a fantastic grounding in the knowledge required to teach the subject up to GCSE.

To engage in the Computer Science Accelerator, you don’t have to be a computer science teacher; the programme offers those entering the profession the opportunity to develop knowledge in a second subject when applying for their first post. Like the ECF and NPQs, the Computer Science Accelerator is fully-funded, supporting teachers to participate in CPD and rewarding computing faculties with ring-fenced funding for a teachers’ commitment to train.

The NCCE has produced a guide to support early career teachers to understand the opportunities available to them. Isaac Computer Science has created A level and GCSE computer science resources to aid the teaching and assessment of students taking these courses, saving hundreds of hours of planning for new teachers coming into the profession.

If you have non-specialists timetabled to teach computer science, you can engage with some of the core offerings from the NCCE to upskill those teachers. This short course is a great place to start.

With girls often choosing not to take computer science at GCSE through to university, the NCCE offers training and support to help teachers and leaders encourage more girls to opt for computer science at this vital point in their studies.

Furthermore, for those who have completed the Computer Science Accelerator, the NCCE’s secondary certificate can help them further their development or the NPQ in Leading Teaching.


To support schools with the new requirements resulting from the new golden thread of teacher development, the NCCE is here to help with evidence-informed professional development, community support and workload-saving evidence-informed resources.

About the author

Christian Turton, Deputy Director: Computing and EdTech, Alban Teaching School Hub