NQT Special: And so, the end is nigh...


As you count down the days until the end of term, Margaret Adams offers advice on how you should approach the end of your NQT year.

Are you counting down the days to the end of term? Have you worked out how many more Mondays there are before the holidays? Do you know how many more times you will meet that class – you know the one I mean – before the summer?

You know the end of the year is coming. You know only too well that your NQT year is almost over. How are you preparing for the time when you will no longer be an NQT? Here are some tasks you would be wise to complete before the end of term.

Write those reports 

The end of the school year always means a flurry of report writing and, as you know, reports must be written, and approved, before the end of term. You may find yourself with hundreds to write, if you teach a large number of classes. As a newcomer to teaching, try to define your report writing strategy this year. It will stand you in good stead for as long as you are in teaching, so make a point of getting it right now. 

Think carefully about the writing style you will use when you want to endorse and encourage a student. Develop a slightly different style and use different vocabulary when you plan to criticise and encourage in your report comments. You will need yet another style and approach, when you want to criticise, warn and encourage. 

Help yourself to produce good reports. Do some planning before you start writing. The task will be less of a headache if you apply a well-defined strategy to each set of reports that you write.

Finish off the paperwork

There is always a lot to finish off at the end of the school year. You probably have reports, surveys, assessments and departmental documents sitting on your desk awaiting completion.

Before you decide to spend every spare minute writing, ask yourself just how much your colleagues will be expecting of you at this point in the year. They are as busy as you are. They, too, are trying to get everything done before the end of term. They may appreciate summaries and succinct accounts of events rather than those detailed analyses you had planned to write. Simple documents with clear conclusions and recommendations could be more valuable to your colleagues than the discursive papers you have been mapping out in your head.

Be practical. Get things done quickly and simply. If people in school want more detail, wait for them to ask for it. 

Check the syllabus

As the end of the school year approaches you will inevitably start to look ahead to September and think about next year’s teaching. Now is the time to check which examination syllabuses you will be teaching. Make sure you know which options within the syllabus you will be dealing with. If you teach a subject like English, confirm which set texts you will be teaching, 

Do not make a mistake here. Check and check again what the syllabus demands. Confirm with your head of department that you have got things right. Then check your understanding again just to be sure. 

You do not want to spend time during the summer planning how you will teach a topic, or a set text, only to discover, in September, that you have been preparing the wrong material. Get things right or risk wasting precious days during your summer break.

Review your timetable

In most schools the timetable for September will be available before the end of the summer term. Get hold of yours.

Find out which classes you will be teaching but also check where you will be teaching. If your school is spread across a large campus, or if it is located on more than one site, you may need to ask for some storage space for your marking and other resources at more than one location. 

Ask now, rather than in September, if you want to increase your chances of being allocated that extra space. In some cases, where moving books and materials around school is just not practicable, you may also need to ask for some resources to be duplicated. 

Ask, too, which additional responsibilities you will be expected to take on. You probably had a lighter timetable this year because you are an NQT. 

Find out about the pastoral responsibilities you will have in September. Find out if you will be expected to lead assemblies and if you will be in charge of a project or something similar. The sooner you know what will be expected of you, the sooner you can start to plan how you will deal with your responsibilities.

Order your resources 

When you arrived in school at the beginning of the year, most of the resources had already been purchased. You taught what you were asked to teach using the resources allocated.

The second half of the summer term is when most of the stock ordering for the coming year takes place. This year work out which resources you will need to teach the syllabuses you know you will be delivering. Then do your research. Decide which resources you think would be most helpful and, where necessary, get your purchase request in as soon as possible.

If you are asked to make suggestions about new stock for your department, do not miss the deadline for responses. Make your preferences known. From now on in your teaching career you will be able to shape your teaching experience by specifying at least some of the materials you use in the classroom. 

The end is nigh 

With so much still to do, you may have forgotten that the end is nigh. You really are coming to the end of your NQT year. However you feel about the year just ending, the summer beckons. Once you complete those end-of-term tasks you can put them and your NQT status behind you. Life will definitely be different in September.

  • Former teacher, Margaret Adams, is the author of Marketing for School Leaders and Work-Life Balance: A Practical Guide For Teachers.


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