Professional Standards: Supporting teachers throughout their career

Support throughout a teaching career

In our conversations with teachers from across the sector, we have found that a teacher’s career appears to develop through stages. What a teacher needs at the beginning of their career is very different from the teacher who has worked in the sector along time and has acquired significant expertise. Therefore, in planning our support for teachers, the knowledge, skills and attitudes that teachers might be expected to attain will be dependent on where they are in their career.

Early career teacher purple person
Experienced teacher purple network
Advanced teacher purple arrow

Three stages of a teacher’s career

For simplicity, the ETF recognises three different career stages for teachers:

Early career

A status representing first three years of a new career in teaching.

male science teacher explaining molecular model to two pupils


A status covering the next few years in a career, when expertise is developing.

Experienced female teacher


A status that reflects a teacher’s considerable mastery of knowledge and skills.

The updated Professional Standards have been developed to enable teachers to progress from one career stage to the next. Each stage represents the next step in a teacher’s development, and together, they represent a journey towards excellence in teaching and learning.

In reality, teachers are likely to progress more quickly on some standards than others because of the opportunities and limitations provided by their work context. When reflecting against the Standards, each teacher is therefore likely to have a spikey profile of strengths and development needs that reach across the three stages.

The Professional Standards Self-Assessment tool encourages individuals to own their professional development and to set targets to improve their practice that fits with their specific circumstances and needs.

The Professional Standards Self-Assessment tool allows four considered responses: 1 – Don’t do  2 – Sometimes do 3 – Mostly do  4 – Always do. Typically, an Early Career Teacher would score themselves 0-2, Experienced Teacher 2-3 and Advanced Teacher 3-4.

Professional Standards: Career stages resources

Below are a number of resources, developed to help you apply the updated Professional Standards at each stage of a teaching career: