NQT Special Edition: Stand up for your rights

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

As part of SecEd's June NQT Special Edition, Chris Keates looks at the entitlements and support that all new teachers should be receiving...

This is the time of year when new teachers will be considering the opportunities and challenges the next academic year will bring – whether you are an NQT coming to the end of your first year in the classroom or you are just completing your initial teacher training and are preparing for your first teaching post.

At the NASUWT, 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.

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

If you are about to start your induction year in September you should receive your 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 a firm and positive foundation for the start of your career and it is your right to receive them.

If you find you are not being given the time, support and guidance you need during your induction year it is essential to seek help and advice from your union.
The NASUWT provides confidential advice, support and representation to assist new teachers in securing their rights and entitlements.

Throughout their first year, we provide new teachers with access to professional development opportunities, forums in which to network with other new teachers, one-to-one advice on professional issues, and information and guidance on the wide range of issues that are critical to teachers’ working lives.

This support is on-going throughout your teaching career and for teachers moving into their second year we continue to offer a wide range of professional seminars and training opportunities, as well as advice and representation on workplace issues.

We also work with governments and administrations, inspectorates and other decision-making bodies to lobby for the interests of new and recently qualified teachers.
The NASUWT is continuing to press for action to address the increasingly uncompetitive rates of pay for new and recently qualified teachers.

Since 2010 teachers’ starting salaries have fallen well below 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 new and 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 and why we continue to support teachers in every workplace to secure the pay and pay progression to which they are entitled.

Workload remains the top concern of teachers. NASUWT research shows that 90 per cent of NQTs cite workload as their number one concern while 78 per cent of new teachers say the main driver of their workload is assessment and marking, with lesson planning and administrative tasks also cited as significant contributors.

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 and teachers should not be subject to Ofsted-style gradings for their lesson plans.

Thanks to this pressure, governments and administrations have finally woken up to the need to tackle excessive teacher workload. However, the actions put in place have so far made little tangible difference to teachers’ working lives and so the NASUWT is continuing the fight against excessive workload.

We believe that 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. This is why we are continuing to challenge at national and school level policies and practices which generate excessive workload burdens for teachers and which distract them from focusing on the needs of their pupils.

Pupil indiscipline is also an issue of concern raised by new and recently qualified teachers, with half of new teachers in recent NASUWT research saying they had experienced verbal abuse by a pupil in the last year. Physical assault is thankfully much rarer, but any incident of violence against a teacher is unacceptable and must be challenged.

Online abuse and harassment of teachers by pupils and parents has become an emerging concern in recent years and the NASUWT offers guidance and support to members to deal with this issue and works with partner organisations to call for action to stamp this out.

The NASUWT has a strong record in helping teachers individually and collectively to resolve issues of pupil behaviour. Our belief is that teachers are entitled to teach and pupils are entitled to learn in an environment free from violence and disruption.

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.

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.

You have right to be treated with dignity and to have your voice heard. We understand that it can be daunting for teachers who are new to the profession to stand up for your rights. That is why with the NASUWT you have the collective strength of the union behind you to support and protect you.

It is important that all teachers 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 and for children’s right to a high-quality education.

You have made the best career choice, teachers change lives and help build nations, but to do that vital work you need working conditions which support you as a highly skilled professional. That is why the NASUWT will be by your side throughout your career to help 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 28, 2018, 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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