NQT Special: We must protect our NQTs


As part of SecEd's NQT special edition, editor Pete Henshaw issues three messages – two for policy-makers and one for NQTs – which if heeded will help to safeguard the future of our profession.

The value of the thousands of young and passionate teachers entering our profession cannot be understated and it is vital that we support and nurture the teaching talent of the future.

This week sees SecEd publish our bi-annual NQT special edition. Supported by our friends at the NASUWT, we have created eight pages of best practice advice and guidance dedicated to our nation’s new and young teachers (download the full eight-page PDF free of charge here).

And the number of crucial topics that we have covered in this edition is a testament to the many and varied challenges that new teachers, and indeed teachers at any stage, face day-in, day-out. Having edited and prepared the articles for this week’s edition, I was left with three thoughts regarding NQTs and their journey to qualified teacher status (QTS).

The statutory entitlements are vitally important

The vast majority of schools support and nurture their young staff brilliantly. That said, the way that a minority continue to treat their NQTs is disturbing – denying them statutory entitlements to crucial support.

If they are to be successful and thrive as teachers, NQTs must have their statutory entitlements, not least to protected PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) and induction time  – meaning 80 per cent contact time.

Given the huge challenges that new teachers face, schools which pressure them into giving up their statutory entitlements are only shooting themselves in the foot as they risk burning-out their star teachers of the future before they even have a chance to shine (NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates expands on this in her article as part of our NQT special edition).

The importance of QTS

It is interesting to read through the best practice pieces we have prepared in the context of the debate that has been raging this year over the place of QTS. As we know, the government has controversially granted free schools and academies the power to hire non-qualified people as teaching staff.

However, as you read our special edition and see the range of issues that we tackle, it is clear why QTS – being fully trained and prepared, having a clear understanding of how and why children learn and behave – is vital to becoming a successful educator.

From behaviour management and lesson observations to SEN or ongoing CPD, becoming a confident and skilled classroom practitioner requires dedication, skill, in-depth training and lifelong professional development.

While it is certainly true that most heads would never dream of hiring non-QTS teachers in great numbers, in an era of huge financial pressure, we cannot guarantee that school leaders of the future won’t take the easy and cheaper route. So we must win this debate and to do this we must take every opportunity to demonstrate just why QTS is so vital to successful educational outcomes.

Taking stock

One thing is clear, life as an NQT is tough. But NQTs must be wary – it can be incredibly easy to focus only on the negatives, the inevitable crises you have faced, or the odd disastrous lesson or incident.

However, remember this – things will have gone wrong this term, but things will have gone right as well and you will have achieved an incredible amount, even if you do not see it. It can be so easy to focus on the negative. Don’t. As long as you are learning from any mistakes then you are doing everything you should be.

This is the toughest term within what will probably be one of the toughest years of your career, so as you celebrate with friends or family this Christmas, hold on to what you have achieved and feel proud. You are a member of that most noble of professions – you are a teacher and you can hold your head high.

NQT Special Edition Download
On November 28, 2013, SecEd published in partnership with the NASUWT, eight pages of best practice and advisory articles aimed at supporting NQTs and young teachers. Ranging from behaviour and CPD to SEN and pedagogy, the articles offer valuable, practical advice and are freely available. You can read them in the best practice and blog sections of this website. Or you can download the free eight-page PDF at http://bit.ly/1aYJWUo


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