Professional Standards: Supporting teachers and trainers throughout their career

Support throughout a teaching and training career

In our conversations with teachers and trainers from across the sector, we have found that their careers appear to develop through stages. What a teacher or trainer needs at the beginning of their career is very different from someone who has worked in the sector a long time and has acquired significant expertise. Therefore, in planning our support for teachers and trainers, the knowledge, skills and attitudes that individuals 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 teaching / training career

For simplicity, the ETF recognises three different career stages:

Woman in her early FE career
Woman in her early FE career

Early career

A status representing first three years of a new career.

male science teacher explaining molecular model to two pupils
Experienced teacher teaching two FE students


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

Experienced female teacher
Woman with considerable mastery of knowledge and skills providing advanced FE teaching


A status that reflects considerable mastery of knowledge and skills.

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

In reality, teachers and trainers 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 or trainer 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 or Trainer would score themselves 0-2, Experienced Teacher or Trainer 2-3 and Advanced Teacher or Trainer 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 career: