As we near the finish line of our NQT adventures this year, I had the experience of an “NQT Audit” on the Friday before half-term.
It was a visit from a representative of Hampshire Country Council (HCC) who came to review our NQT folders as well as meet and question us about our experiences. She met with us first, then reviewed our folders alone before meeting with our director of initial teacher training.
It was a useful opportunity – however, as usual, it did not arrive without the anxious build up that I often experience when being “checked” or “reviewed”.
Having spent hours over the final weeks of April and into May on my NQT folder, I felt it was adequately reflective of my hard work and endeavour of the past nine months, but still I felt anxious!
And so it was in this state that I arrived in my designated meeting room, ready to discover my NQT fortunes.
The audit itself was exactly what we had been primed for. Armed with a booklet of prompt questions she asked us all about the school provision for NQTs and the support mechanisms we have in place.
There were obvious signs that the school was making a good impression. The support network of mentor, senior staff link, buddies, as well as supportive colleagues within departments was acknowledged and was seen as a great indicator of what our school does well.
In addition, having regular, timetabled mentor meetings and careful following of the NQT planner to ensure observations are regular and effective was viewed positively too. Our internal mechanism of Half Term Reviews also reflected well as an additional layer of department support and feedback.
There were a couple of things that were identified through our discussions that would be beneficial for NQTs of the future. For example, being able to have booked NQT meetings that were additional to our Professional Learning Menu (CPD sessions) in order to meet up and share ideas, practice and emotional highs and lows – as although we frequently see one another when attending facilitated sessions, one of the most beneficial things of the whole experience last week was the opportunity to be with the other NQTs in the school without it being a guided CPD session; having the time and flexibility to share and seek support from one another.
Another area included comparing Records of Evidence, Professional Development Plans, and Professional Review Meeting Logs, which would have aided us all over recent months to ensure consistency. Our folders were all very different, varying in length, quality and evidence.
A further feedback point was for future NQT cohorts to go into other classrooms across the school and observe both exceptional teaching as well as seeing “good or difficult” pupils in your own classes in different contexts to gain strategies to manage behaviour or for differentiation. This is something we have not had the opportunity to do so far and it would be great.
There are many openings for teachers to collaborate within departments, but I guess as NQTs, not knowing if it is okay to venture outside of the department, can lead to a certain level of distance and segregation.
Also it was recommended that coordinating the opportunity to see our own subjects being taught elsewhere in the local area would help to grow networks and ideas within local catchments and communities. This does seem really exciting and our director of ITT is on the case already. I am hoping to take advantage of this before the NQT year is out.
SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England.