EPD Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first thing a teacher should do before commencing EPD?

The teacher must register online with the Education Authority for EPD Year 1 and again for EPD Year 2 at Early Career Teachers Induction and Early Professional DevelopmentThis enables the EA’s Induction and EPD team to track EPD teachers, especially as they may move between schools, and to keep in touch with them about EPD information seminars and any other support needs relating to their successful completion of the EPD stage of their CLPD.

What is the aim of EPD?

EPD is the third stage of the continuous integrated process of teacher education. Its aim is to embed career-long professional learning as an essential part of the definition and behaviour of being a teacher. EPD sees the focus of reflection shift from thinking about teaching to thinking about learning, and is designed to ensure that teachers continue to receive the support from within the teaching profession which is characteristic of the best practice of professional development. It should provide a continuing basis of professional learning leading to the annual PRSD process, the next stage in the CLPD pathway.

Who takes part in EPD?

All teachers who have successfully completed the Induction stage of their CLPD are required to take part in EPD. This includes teachers who return immediately to Northern Ireland having completed the equivalent of Induction in Great Britain.

Can the two year EPD programme be condensed into one year?

The two year EPD programme cannot normally be shortened to one year.  It is

designed to support teachers to build upon and show evidence in a portfolio of their progressive development as competent practitioners over a 2 year period within their individual school contexts. Core to this, is the completion of two discrete professional development activities (PDAs), one in EPD Year 1 and one in EPD Year 2.

When is a teacher from Great Britain exempt from EPD?

If a teacher has completed the equivalent of Induction in England, Scotland or Wales and has verifiable evidence of having taught for at least two further years, he/she should not normally be required to take part in EPD1 upon coming to teach in Northern Ireland. However, the school may require the teacher to engage in its own short ‘induction programme’ to familiarise him/her with school procedures and the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

What should an EPD teacher do who is in short-term and part-time employment?

All Early Career Teachers who have successfully completed Induction and who are not in regular employment can register for and engage in EPD. The Education Authority’s ECT team will be able to provide further specific advice and support to teachers who do not have full-time/long-term employment on how best to engage with the EPD process.

What support is available to EPD teachers during EPD Year 1 and EPD Year 2?

Support is available to EPD teachers from colleagues within schools, particularly the Teacher Tutor whose role it is to support Early Career Teachers. Support is also available from the Education Authority’s ECT team on the requirements of the EPD stage. This support is supplemented by online information and resources from the Education Authority’s website. The EPD Teacher and the school take the lead at the EPD stage.

What will be the workload for the EPD teacher and the school?

The EPD teacher compiles a portfolio of evidence of his/her reflective practice including two Professional Development Activities (PDAs) over two years of full-time teaching. The PDAs will enable the EPD Teacher to engage in the ‘plan, teach, review and reflect cycle’. It is essential that EPD supports the teacher and remains manageable. EPD should focus specifically on the professional development needs of the individual teacher within the context of his/her school.

How is the standard of work completed by teachers in EPD evaluated and quality assured?

The school is responsible for quality assuring the EPD process, including the two Professional Development Activities (PDAs) contained within the EPD Portfolio of Evidence. Observations (a minimum of 2 per PDA) and discussions with the EPD teacher take place throughout the two year process and are linked to the PDAs. The Principal and Teacher Tutor complete a ‘Quality Assurance’ profile at the end of each PDA as well as a ‘Confirmation of Completion of PDA’ form which provides a continuing basis of professional learning throughout the annual PRSD process.

Who tells whom that EPD has been successfully completed?

The Board of Governors confirms, on the recommendation of the Principal, that the teacher has successfully completed EPD. The letter of completion is only issued at the end of EPD Year 2 and sent to the GTCNI, 3rd Floor, Albany House, Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7AF. A copy is given to the EPD teacher for his/her own records and a copy is retained by the school.

How does EPD relate to Performance Review and Staff Development (PRSD)?

The EPD Portfolio (Year 1 and Year 2) should act as a bridge to PRSD. Areas for development highlighted in the EPD quality assurance process may be used to develop personal targets for PRSD on a continuing basis.

How does a teacher in N Ireland apply to teach in the Republic of Ireland?

If a teacher in N Ireland wishes to teach in the Republic of Ireland they register with the TCI (Teaching Council Ireland)

What is the context for the Early Career Teacher Programme?

The current Early Career Teacher programme has been in place since 1996 when it was outlined in the paper, ‘Arrangements for Initial Teacher Education in Northern Ireland from 1 September 1996.’ The paper set out 5 areas of competence which underpinned the 3 stages of teacher education from the start of the 1996/97 academic year. The Induction stage was introduced at the start of the 1997/98 academic year and the arrangements for Early Professional Development (EPD) commenced at the start of the 1998/99 academic year.

In 2007, the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) revised the teacher competences and published them in ‘Teaching: the Reflective Profession’. These competences now underpin the Early Career Teacher Programme and the Continuing Teacher Education Programme in Northern Ireland.

Learning Leaders: A strategy for teacher professional learning was published by the Department of education in N Ireland in 2016 setting out a strategy where every teacher is a learning leader from beginning teacher throughout their career.

What are the three stages of Teacher Education?

The 3 main stages of Teacher Education are:

  • Initial Teacher Education
  • Induction - the first year of teaching
  • Early Professional Development
    • EPD Year 1 (normally the second year of teaching)
    • EPD Year 2 (normally the third year of teaching)

Why are the three stages of Teacher Education integrated?

The integrated approach to Teacher Education aims to provide Early Career Teachers with a more holistic experience in order that they may continue to develop as critical reflective practitioners, improve their teaching and the quality of pupil learning, and may see their ongoing professional development as part of a lifelong learning process. The integrated approach also enhances the collaborative partnership between the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), the Education Authority and the schools. The GTCNI competences which underpin all three stages are framed to encourage teachers to focus appropriately on aspects of their practice through the key stages of their career.

What does the ‘Partnership Approach’ mean?

A professional partnership exists between the schools, the Induction and EPD team of the Education Authority, the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and, where appropriate, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), the Controlled

Schools Support Council (CSSC), the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (CnaG). All partners contribute in a flexible and collaborative way to the provision of an integrated programme of teacher education with the aim of providing professional support to Beginning Teachers. While all partners are involved at each of the 3 stages

  • the HEIs are the lead body at the Initial Teacher Education stage
  • the Induction and EPD team of the Education Authority is the lead body at the Induction stage
  • the schools are the lead body at the EPD stage

What is the ‘Teacher Competence Model’?

The teacher competence model, described in the GTCNI’s publication, ‘Teaching: The Reflective Profession’, underpins all 3 stages of teacher education and career-long professional development (CLPD). This document sets out the competences, which student teachers and qualified teachers develop throughout their careers, under 5 areas of professional practice:

  1. Professional Values & Practices
  2. Professional Knowledge and Understanding
  3. Professional Skills and Application in Planning & Leading
  4. Professional Skills and Application in Teaching & Learning
  5. Professional Skills and Application in Assessment

What is a Career-Entry Profile and who has access to it?

A Career Entry Profile (CEP), or GB equivalent, is a professional document profiling the strengths and developmental needs of the graduating teacher and involves:

  • identifying needs
  • selecting goals
  • setting targets which will help to meet goals
  • agreeing action
  • reviewing action
  • recording progress and achievement.

The CEP, or equivalent, serves to encourage Early Career Teachers to develop a reflective approach to their professional development as well as act as a bridging document from Initial Teacher Training to Induction. The process of reflective professional learning is the beginning of Career Long Professional Development (CLPD). The Principal, and/or the Teacher Tutor, will require access to the CEP in order to guide the Early Career Teacher. The CEP does not form part of the appointment process.

What support is available to Teacher Tutors?

Professional development is also available to new Teacher Tutors. Online resources are available from the Education Authority’s website. Teacher Tutors should register on the EA website each academic year when they are supporting Early Career Teachers.

What is the responsibility of the Teacher Tutor?

The role of the Teacher Tutor is to guide and support the Early Career Teacher through successful completion of the Induction and EPD stages and to coordinate the Early Career Teacher programme within school. The Teacher Tutor role is set out in the Teacher Education Partnership Handbook on the Department of Education’s website and also further explained, with supporting resources, in the Education Authority’s ‘Teacher Tutor Resource Book’ which is available from the Education Authority’s website.

Teacher Tutors should register on the EA website each academic year when they are supporting Early Career Teachers.

Are there circumstances in which a teacher may not successfully complete the Induction and EPD stages?

If the school deems that sufficient progress is not being made, the areas of concern will be highlighted in the ongoing Principal and Teacher Tutor reports. The school will recommend a further period of Induction with support. If no improvement is evident, the Early Career Teacher (as for any teacher) should be advised in writing by the Principal that the procedure for ‘Promoting Effective Teaching’ (DE TNC Circular 2013-14) is being initiated by the school governors.

Glossary of Terms
Abbreviation Name


Education Authority in Northern Ireland


Early Career Teacher, a teacher who has completed initial teacher education and has not completed induction or EPD


Early professional development. A 2 year programme after induction which is part of the continuous integrated process of teacher education in Northern Ireland


General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland, registrar for teachers


one year programme of professional development after initial teacher education (in NI) [in Great Britain called NQT]


Northern Ireland Substitute Teachers Register


Performance review and staff development - the professional development and performance of teachers employed in their schools reviewed annually


Teaching and professional learning

Last updated: 29/04/2022