NQT Special: Some FAQs about NQTs

Written by: Alex Collinson | Published:
Photo: iStock

Alex Collinson looks at the FAQs that school leaders in England have about how they should be supporting their NQTs and considers relevant government guidance when it comes to NQTs

By this point in the year, NQTs are likely to have settled into their school and will be getting to grips with the challenges and rewards of their role. Anyone who has been through NQT induction will know it can be a stressful time, but it also brings challenges for headteachers and others involved in managing induction programmes.

As a researcher at The Key, I get insight into the questions and concerns uppermost in school leaders’ minds when it comes to staffing matters, not least managing and supporting NQTs.

It is an important part of the remit, especially amid worrying statistics about the number of new teachers who currently leave the profession within their first year.

We have answered a variety of questions from school leaders keen to stay compliant and offer the best experience to their NQTs, ranging from requests for examples of induction policies and checklists, to more specific queries such as “can an NQT lead a school trip unaccompanied?”.

In many cases, the responses are of as much interest to NQTs. So with this in mind, here are the answers to just some of the questions that school leaders have asked us about NQT induction.

Should NQTs be performance-managed?

Although teachers undergoing induction are not subject to the regulations covering the performance management of most teachers in maintained schools in England, each NQT must have a personalised monitoring and support programme.

This means having support, guidance and professional reviews of progress from a designated induction tutor. He or she must have qualified teacher status (QTS) and sufficient time and experience to carry out the role effectively. The personalised programme must also include observations of the NQT’s teaching (with follow-up discussions), and opportunities for the NQT to observe experienced teachers.

NQTs should also have regular formal assessments of their performance against the Teachers’ Standards. These should be carried out by the headteacher or induction tutor, and be informed by evidence drawn from the NQT’s work as a teacher and his or her induction programme. The Department for Education’s (DfE) guidance says that NQTs should be kept up-to-date on their progress and stresses that “there should be no surprises”.

How should NQTs use non-contact time?

Guidance from the DfE explains that NQTs on induction are entitled to non-contact time as well as planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time. Those in maintained schools should not teach for more than 90 per cent of the time that other teachers are expected to teach, and those in academies, free schools and independent schools should have a similarly reduced timetable.

With the “spare” 10 per cent, NQTs are expected to complete induction-related activities. The National College for Teaching and Leadership, the awarding body for Qualified Teacher Status in England, told us that training activities and meetings related to the induction period can count towards the 10 per cent NQT time.

Your local authority may have published guidance on how NQTs can use this time effectively. Suggestions include observing or shadowing other teachers or those with specific responsibilities, visiting other schools or places of interest which may support the curriculum, reading and research, or helping to plan a school trip (see further information for some examples of NQT induction and activity advice).

Brighton and Hove Council suggests a number of development activities related to each of the Teachers’ Standards – for example, undertaking learning walks with colleagues focusing on different learning environments around the school, or working with the behaviour coordinator.

Can NQTs take on extra responsibilities?

If a school has an NQT who is confident, performing well and keen to help, it may be tempting to ask him or her to take on some additional responsibilities. Legislation and the DfE’s guidance do not prohibit this, but the DfE does say that schools should not make “unreasonable demands” (including related to discipline) or expect NQTs to carry out additional non-teaching responsibilities without appropriate preparation and support.

A DfE representative explained to us that it may be appropriate in some circumstances, but only if the NQT wants to take on the responsibility and the induction tutor and everyone else involved supports this.

However, an NQT should not take on the role of SENCO – regulations stipulate that a teacher has to satisfactorily complete induction before carrying out this role.

Can NQTs change schools during induction?

The DfE’s guidance explains that the statutory NQT induction must last for the equivalent of one school year. It also says that the minimum period of continuous employment that can count towards this is one term. Therefore, a full-time NQT completing induction in one year could work in up to three schools during that period (for example, he or she might want to gain experience of working in different school phases or contexts).

However, if an NQT will be leaving a school before the next formal assessment, the headteacher should complete an interim assessment to ensure that performance and progress are tracked. The headteacher must also notify the appropriate body when the NQT has left the school.

At the NQT’s new school, the headteacher must contact the appropriate body linked to the previous school to get relevant information about the induction and copies of any assessments, including the interim assessment.

  • Alex Collinson is a researcher specialising in questions relating to school staffing at The Key, which provides leadership and management support to schools.

Further information

  • Induction for NQTs (England): Statutory guidance for appropriate bodies, headteachers, school staff and governing bodies (Department for Education, revised September 2015): http://bit.ly/1OPYqMH
  • Teachers’ Standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies (Department for Education, July 2011): http://bit.ly/1MAWT7n
  • Examples of NQT support from Lambeth’s NQT Handbook (2013/14): http://bit.ly/1O1Jc5Z
  • NQT induction and activity advice from the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London: http://bit.ly/1j77VJe
  • PDF download: Suggested CPD activities to help achieve targets within the Teachers’ Standards: http://bit.ly/1PzAQEb

NQT Special Edition - November 2015

This article was published in November 2015 as part of SecEd's bi-annual NQT Special Edition, supported by the NASUWT. You can download a free PDF of all eight pages via our Supplements page: http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/supplements/


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