Teachers' Standard 1

Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils

  • establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect
  • set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions
  • demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values and behaviour which are expected of pupils.

Early Career Teachers can find out more by listening to our podcasts

Our short podcasts offer advice and tips from our expert guest speaker, who looks at what ECTs should focus on to meet the different teachers’ standards, what great practice looks like for ECTs, and how they can build evidence and work with their mentor to pass their assessment.

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The Assessment, Evaluation and Adaptation Cycle: A guide for ECTs

Ryan Kendall, the Primary Curriculum Lead at Ark Teacher Training talks about The Assessment, Evaluation and Adaptation Cycle. He discusses why it is important and how ECTs can develop and evidence this area of practice for their NQT assessment

60 seconds with a recently qualified teacher

Recently qualified teacher Hannah Bridges talks about what helped her as an ECT to pass her induction.

1. What advice would you give to an ECT trying to set goals that stretch and challenge their pupils?

I would say never limit how much any student you teach can achieve. I’ve often seen this mistake made when adapting work for children who are working below the level of their peers.

As teachers, we may hold the misconception that planning ‘easier’ tasks for these pupils is supporting them through differentiation. However, planning for and providing extra scaffolding, wherever possible, ensures that our pupils won’t be restricted by an unintentional ‘glass ceiling’. Many times, my pupils have surprised me with how well they have grasped a topic. If I had limited their task, I wouldn’t have given them the opportunity to show me this!

2. How do you support your students in ensuring they are resilient enough to carry out your challenging tasks?

Building a climate where children feel safe enough to take risks in their learning and essentially ‘have a go’ without being anxious about making mistakes is something I think is absolutely essential to setting goals that stretch and challenge pupils.

In my classes, I have always aimed to use my own errors as opportunities to show that everyone makes mistakes and we should not be ashamed of making them. Thanking children when they make a mistake, as it will help their classmates learn to, has often proved incredibly effective. Finally, I have often spoken to my children about the ‘learning pit’ (Nottingham, 1999), explaining that if they struggle, but are ultimately successful, with a task, it is more likely they will remember the material (EEF, 2017).

3. How did you develop your knowledge and practice on setting goals that stretch and challenge?

I think drawing on the professional communities you are a part of is extremely important. Whether this is with your colleagues in school or further afield, discussing expectations of the age group you teach and the approaches you take to build their confidence with experienced practitioners will help ensure you are able to build an appropriate level of challenge into your practice.

However, you are the person who knows your class best. Ensuring you have an excellent understanding of every pupil’s prior understanding, as well as where they are within their learning journey, their learning preferences and interests will be fundamental in setting goals with the appropriate amount of stretch.

4. Is there anything you think is a must read to help you to develop this area of practice?

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Dweck, 2006) is well known and provides an excellent model for understanding the mental barriers pupils may face in taking risks in their learning.

5. What challenges did you face when trying to set goals that were appropriately pitched?

It can be really difficult as an ECT to know if the goals you have set are pitched appropriately. This gets easier with experience, as the curriculum requirements become more engrained in your memory. Equally, the more experience you have teaching a particular concept, the better placed you are to pre-empt misconceptions, plan to address them and therefore ensure your pupils reach the goals you have set.

As I have said previously, make sure you are well-versed in the National Curriculum Requirements for your year group/subject and draw upon the knowledge and experience of your colleagues, particularly those who have taught your cohort before. They will certainly be able to give you an insight into the needs of your students.

6. Is there anything in particular that your mentor did that you found helpful to support you to be able to set challenging but realistic goals for your students?

I remember my mentor telling me that I should pitch my lessons at the top-end of ability in my class. Those that may struggle can be accounted for and scaffolding to help them succeed can be planned, without limiting the outcome of their work. And those that need to be challenged and stretched will have that opportunity. I have always followed this advice, particularly during the times when I am slightly unsure, and it always helps me to pitch my lessons at an aspirational yet realistic level.

The implication of this, again, is having to know your children really well. Quality formative assessment is the way to achieve this as it will give you the data you need to plan next steps.

7. What evidence did you use to demonstrate this for your assessment as an ECT?

I tried to use a range of evidence to show I was meeting this standard across multiple contexts. This included:

  • Lesson Plans
  • Lesson observation feedback
  • Examples of pupil work across a range of subjects
  • Videos of my teaching
  • Pictures of classroom displays that encouraged a growth mindset
  • Pupil progress data


8. What’s your favourite biscuit?

Chocolate digestive

9. What’s the most meaningful book you have read?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Maragret Atwood- I read it for A-level and it entirely changed my outlook on the world as a young adult

Hannah Bridges

Hannah Bridges

Opening quoteBuilding a climate where children feel safe enough to take risks in their learning and essentially ‘have a go’ without being anxious about making mistakes is something I think is absolutely essential to setting goals that stretch and challenge pupils.Closing quote

Early Career Framework

The Early Career Framework outlines what early career teachers should learn about, as well as what they need to learn how to do. It is based on expert guidance and research evidence. The framework should be central to all ECTs’ development.

Click below to see the “Learn that…” and “Learn how to…” statements.