NQT Special Edition: Remember your rights

Written by: Chris Keates | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Chris Keates looks at the entitlements and support that all NQTs should receive from their schools...

This is the time of year when new teachers will be considering the opportunities and challenges the next academic year will bring.

Whatever opportunities and challenges present themselves, never forget that you have wisely chosen one of the best, most worthwhile and most rewarding professional careers. Teachers change lives and build nations, which is why education is one of our most vital public services.

Your experience in the first year of teaching is critical for you and for the future of the profession. It’s essential that you are valued and supported and given the best possible start to your career.

New teachers starting their induction year should receive their statutory entitlements to:

  • A reduction in timetabled teaching, in addition to the entitlement all teachers have to a guaranteed minimum of 10 per cent of the timetabled time for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA).
  • Teach only the age range or subject for which you have been trained.
  • An induction tutor or mentor to help advise and support you.
  • Not to routinely teach classes or children with especially challenging discipline problems.
  • Teach the same class(es) on a regular basis to establish a routine and a rapport with pupils.
  • Receive regular feedback and support on progress.
  • Be given early warning of any perceived problems or difficulties with progress.
  • Professional and timely communication about judgements on performance.

These provisions are intended to lay firm and positive foundation for the start of your career.

Many new teachers have a very positive start to their career but there are still too many whose experience is poor and who are not given the time, support and guidance that they need. In those cases it is essential to seek help and advice.

The NASUWT provides confidential advice, support and representation to assist new teachers in securing their rights and entitlements to enable them to pursue successfully their chosen career.

The union provides for all new teachers throughout their first year access to professional development opportunities, forums in which to network with other new teachers, one-to-one advice on professional issues and high-quality information and guidance on the wide range of issues which are critical to teachers’ working lives.

Our aim is for every new teacher to enjoy a consistent, high-quality experience which instils confidence and nurtures the enthusiasm and passion new teachers bring to teaching.

The NASUWT recognises that there are significant challenges facing all new teachers.

Teachers’ starting salaries are at a scandalous 15 per cent below other comparable graduate professions. While all teachers are under financial pressure because of the continuing public sector pay cap and the excessive freedoms and flexibilities schools have been given over pay, we know that for young teachers the pressures are even more intense.

That is why the NASUWT continues to campaign for a significant above inflation pay rise for teachers, the only teachers’ union to do so, and why we continue to support teachers in every workplace to secure the pay and pay progression to which they are entitled.

Talk to any teacher wherever they work and ask them what their top concern is about their job and they will say workload. Ninety per cent of NQTs cite this as their number one concern.

Three quarters of new teachers say the main driver of their workload is assessment and marking. Workload reduction is a key priority for the NASUWT. We have maintained a national dispute with the government over this issue and secured the publication of national recommendations by government which made clear that there is no requirement to deep mark every piece of work, without any regard to the subject you teach or the number of pupils in your class.

There is no need for detailed bureaucratic lesson plans. It’s planned lessons which are needed not lesson plans and there is no need for lessons to be graded. All these recommendations are endorsed by Ofsted.

The NASUWT has supported thousands of teachers across the country to secure these recommendations in their schools. Excessive workload must be challenged. Tired and exhausted teachers cannot give their best to the children and young people they teach. Your health and wellbeing is important to the high-quality education provision for all pupils.

Pupil indiscipline is also an issue of concern raised by new teachers. Teachers are entitled to teach and pupils are entitled to learn in an environment free from violence and disruption.

Teachers are entitled to be recognised and rewarded as highly skilled professionals and have working conditions which enable you to focus on teaching. Without this, talented and committed teachers will not be recruited or retained and the teacher supply crisis will deepen.

New teachers are a precious resource for schools. Teachers have distinct conditions of service, distinct professional standards and entry qualifications and distinct professional roles and responsibilities.

As a new teacher always remember to assert your professionalism, you have right to be treated with dignity and to have your voice heard.
Recognise that what happens to you affects the quality of the education for the children and young people you teach. When you stand up for your rights you stand up for standards.

This will put you on the path to a very successful career. The NASUWT will be with you every step of the way.

  • Chris Keates is general secretary of the NASUWT.

NQT Special Edition

This article was published as part of SecEd’s NQT Special Edition. The publication offered eight pages of specialist best practice advice for NQTs and trainee teachers across the UK. Supported by the NASUWT the special edition published on June 29, 2017, and the eight pages are available to download as a free pdf from SecEd’s Supplements page: www.sec-ed.co.uk/supplements


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