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Fostering growth through video feedback and self-assessment: A project-based approach to the second-year ECT induction

Written by: Purvi Gandhi and Jo Day
6 min read


This article outlines a pilot case study of an innovative project-based induction model for second-year early career teachers (ECTs). The model, based on principles of effective continuous professional development (CPD), integrates essential mechanisms like goal-setting, feedback and action planning, as recommended by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF, 2021).

The early career framework (DfE, 2019) outlines essential knowledge and skills for ECTs, providing a two-year professional development entitlement to enhance teaching practice, expand knowledge and refine professional habits. Being in its infancy, there’s a need to trial new approaches for effective and sustainable delivery.

This pilot aimed to develop a sustainable CPD programme for second-year ECTs, considering their reduced timetable allocation from 10 per cent to five per cent. Recognising the importance of effective CPD for fostering self-efficacy and teacher retention (Sorensen, 2023), the challenge was to design a programme supporting ECTs in their second year while adhering to CPD principles, in order to cultivate essential knowledge, skills and behaviours for long-term teaching success. In particular, it needed to focus on the importance of engaging with research literature and taking part in action research. In 2023, an East Midlands independent school piloted an initiative to address training needs for second-year ECTs. The ECF induction team, including the induction lead, subject mentors and the ECF coordinator (coach), implemented this initiative. The ECF coordinator addressed ongoing training needs for mentors and ECTs. Overseen by the induction lead, the ECF coordinator conducted coaching on pedagogy or school-wide issues. ECTs also had subject mentors for subject-specific training. The pilot initiative, which is described below, was assessed using an online questionnaire and project documentation.

Program design and process

Inspired by Stenhouse’s (2014) ‘teacher as researcher’ concept, the programme encouraged teachers, particularly ECTs, to actively engage in studying their classroom practices. ECTs chose a specific area of focus for investigation, fostering ownership of their professional development journey. ECTs were supported by their coach and the online platform Iris Connect’s UnityPD to instil habits of self-assessment extending beyond the induction period. UnityPD is an online platform that provides a variety of structured pathways that teachers can follow to explore a particular area of practice. The platform works alongside Iris Connect ( – a tool that allows recording of lessons for feedback and deeper assessment of classroom practice (Davies et al., 2017). Both provide tools to deconstruct and analyse the video with colleagues to obtain feedback.

In the summer of 2023, the ECTs were introduced to the evidence-informed practice project for their second year – a CPD approach valuable beyond induction. An interactive workshop prepared ECTs, who delivered concise presentations on the theory behind diverse questioning strategies. WalkThrus resources (Sherrington, 2022) served as stimulus and background reading, chosen for their accessibility to novice teachers. ECTs used Iris Connect equipment to record these presentations, acquainting them with the technology crucial for their projects.

In the subsequent weeks, ECTs researched educational literature and cultivated ideas for their professional development. Draft project outlines were created and refined through initial coaching meetings. Once the focus area was chosen, a ‘skills coaching’ pathway was established on UnityPD. Among various pathways, this one was chosen for teachers developing a new skill for the first time. The coach provided a video for deconstruction of the identified skill and guided the ECT through three cycles of deliberate practice, feedback and self-assessment. Within the pathway, ECTs utilised resources from our teaching and learning library and UnityPD’s ‘instructional pallet’ – a curated repository of literature and videos on a specific theme, encouraging deeper reflection through tasks and discussion forums.

The coach helped ECTs to operationalise (make it measurable) the skill of interest, like effective questioning, using exemplar videos to illustrate how it might look in the classroom. This led to a series of lesson recordings and reflections by the ECT. Recordings provided feedback for self-assessment before coaching conversations. The coach used each recording and reflection as the agenda for a face-to-face meeting. After further feedback, ECTs recorded their next steps on the UnityPD platform. This cycle repeated twice more, concluding with ECTs reflecting on project success and delivering presentations to the induction team and staff.


Analysis of the participants’ (three ECTs and coach) programme evaluation, coupled with a review of project documents, offered insights into the experiences of second years and suggested improvement strategies. Specifically, the data revealed the following results:

Enhanced confidence in technology for feedback in teaching pedagogy

All participants (ECTs and the coach) expressed increased confidence in using Iris Connect and UnityPD. The integration of these tools facilitated detailed self-assessment and enriched coaching conversations. Regular utilisation of these resources contributed to ECTs’ growing confidence and competence in incorporating them into their teaching practices.

Individualised goals and self-directed learning

The ECTs all pursued diverse improvement goals, reflecting the personalised nature of their projects. Goals included improving questioning, assessment for learning and scaffolding instructions. This highlights the adaptability of the approach to cater to each teacher’s unique priorities.

Engagement with self-assessment and reflection

Regular self-assessment and reflection enabled all three ECTs to review their progress and pinpoint areas for improvement. They used various criteria, such as student engagement (measured by the number of questions attempted in assignments), individual progress (measured by test scores) and improvements in specific skills, to gauge success. For example, ECT3 shared in the survey: ‘After each recorded lesson, I spent 15 minutes considering my improvement in scaffolding GCSE lessons.’ In addition, the coach indicated developmental progression and recognised the growing autonomy of ECTs.

The valuable role of coaching

The collaborative relationship with their coach emerged as a key factor influencing the success and progress of ECTs in their second year of teaching. For instance, ECT3 emphasised: ‘My coach has been great at providing insight and mentoring when reviewing videos.’ Additionally, the coach commented that the nature of the project had helped ECTs to recognise the interconnectedness of pedagogical elements, fostering a more holistic understanding of effective teaching practices.

Transition from first to second ECT year 

The coach emphasised the benefits of an in-house project-based approach, stressing its targeted development potential within the school context. ECTs also encountered a shift in training approaches between their first and second years. Although the second year provided more independence, some missed the collaborative aspects, like group discussions, from the first year. This underscores the importance of balancing individual projects with a supportive, collaborative learning environment for ECTs.


The use of videos was instrumental in facilitating precise self-assessment and reflection among ECTs, enabling them to evaluate their teaching from various angles. Coaching conversations effectively integrated perspectives from teachers, observers and coaches, guiding self-assessment and informing steps for improvement. However, participants have encountered challenges with the online platform, such as difficulty in sharing reflections and navigating platforms that segregate videos from reflection notes. To address these issues, the school is collaborating with UnityPD to develop a customised pathway. Although specialised tools like UnityPD may not be universally accessible, there is potential in utilising electronic devices like tablets for video recording, provided GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance considerations are addressed.

Furthermore, ECTs have expressed a desire for regular peer connections, reminiscent of their experiences in the first year. This suggests incorporating peer meetings at crucial project junctures in the future. To meet this need, the induction lead aims to cultivate a more expansive professional community within the school.


Results of this investigation suggest that the project-based model for second-year ECTs is effective for fostering teacher development through self-assessment and feedback. One possible implication of this is the integration of similar programmes more broadly into school CPD frameworks. However, potential limitations must be considered. The small sample size (only three ECTs) limits generalisability to other ECTs. The unique staffing structure, with an ECF coordinator (coach) and subject mentors, plus access to new technology distinguish this school from many others, potentially limiting applicability. The study focused on short-term outcomes, using end-of-project evaluations and documentation as qualitative measures of success. Follow-up over a longer period is recommended to assess lasting impacts on ECTs’ teaching careers. While promising, this small pilot study warrants further research for a comprehensive evaluation of the project-based CPD approach for ECTs during their second year of teaching and beyond.

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