NQT Special: Your rights and entitlements

Written by: Chris Keates | Published:
Chris Keates, general secretary, NASUWT

Welcome to SecEd’s NQT special edition. The next eight pages offer a range of advice for NQTs as they approach the end of their first term. To begin, Chris Keates looks at the entitlements and support that all NQTs should be receiving

The end of the first term of the school year is rapidly approaching and with it the first key milestone of the induction year for NQTs.

It is to be hoped that new teachers will have experienced more highs than lows so far and will have gained the confidence and satisfaction that comes from seeing pupils learning and progressing as a result of their teaching.

The experience NQTs have in this first and crucial induction year is extremely important and it is for this reason that successive governments have recognised the need to put statutory provisions in place which are specifically designed to ensure that the induction year provides a structured and supported introduction into the profession. These provisions include:

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

These induction entitlements are designed to continue the process of developing the skills and expertise needed to become a great teacher.

The experience in this first and important year should be one where good schools will harness, use effectively and celebrate the enthusiasm, energy, commitment, new ideas and talent that NQTs bring to the role.

The best schools recognise the importance of growing and supporting new teachers and, most importantly, recognise that they need support, encouragement and working conditions which enable them to gain appropriate experience in their first school placement.

Many NQTs are positive about the support they receive during their induction year, but unfortunately not all have good experiences.

Some schools fail to provide the statutory entitlements, with too many NQTs facing excessive classroom observation with no feedback or constructive comment. Others are allocated classes of pupils who are known to exhibit extremely challenging behaviour, even with the most experienced of teachers.

Unfortunately, the NASUWT has a wealth of experience in supporting NQTs in addressing all these issues of concern.
Too often NQTs can feel reluctant to ask for help or support for fear that they may be seen as not coping or not up to the job.

However, it is important to remember that seeking advice, whether from colleagues, managers or from your union, is something that all teachers, no matter how experienced, will need to do at times. No-one begins teaching knowing all the answers and a good school will understand that it is part of their job to nurture you.

The induction year is arguably one of the most challenging phases of a teacher’s career and it is easy to become overwhelmed with the demands of the job. It is vital that new teachers make time for themselves and set realistic boundaries and expectations about what is achievable in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

The NASUWT is campaigning to bring downward pressure on teacher workload in order to address the high burn-out rate among recently qualified teachers.

Through our detailed research on workload, combined with our action and lobbying, we have helped to secured guidance from Ofsted dispelling the myth peddled in too many schools that Ofsted requires a specific type of lesson planning and marking system.

The government has also recognised the problem of excessive workload by establishing working parties to look at lesson planning, marking and data collection. This has led to guidance stating that triple marking is not required and there is no evidence that it aids pupil progress or raises standards. Furthermore, there are no requirements for marking of a particular type or volume (SecEd, May 2017).

There is no need to plan within an inch of your life. It is planned lessons, not lesson plans, that are required. Weekly or daily plans should not be a routine expectation. Longer term planning should start from schemes of work provided by schools, not from blank sheets of paper.

Schools should not be imposing bureaucratic and wasteful tracking and record keeping requirements that distract teachers from concentrating on teaching. The recently published report of the Teacher Workload Review Group set out further important recommendations on the use of pupil data and drew attention to the inappropriate ways in which too many schools use this data to set performance management objectives for teachers (Making Data Work, November 2018).

Requirements to produce mountains of lesson plans, deep mark every piece of work, constantly collect, analyse and input data should be challenged and the NASUWT is ready to support teachers in doing so.

While it is understandably daunting for new teachers to stand up for their rights and challenge poor practices in schools, it should be remembered that without these rights and entitlements it is much more difficult for teachers to provide children and young people with their entitlement to the highest quality of education.

It is vital that we support NQTs and continue to campaign for them and all other teachers to be recognised and rewarded as the highly skilled professionals they are and for them to have working conditions which enable them to focus on teaching and learning. Whether it is NQTs facing the abuse of temporary contracts, unacceptable barriers to meeting the requirements to complete induction, lack of access to training, expectations to teach outside specialisms or age ranges, pupil indiscipline or flouting of pay and conditions entitlements, the NASUWT is here.

Our advice and guidance for NQTs is complemented by a programme of free professional seminars throughout the induction year.

This year can be a steep learning curve and we must be committed to standing alongside NQTs to support them through whatever this year brings and into the future. The NASUWT recognises that NQTs are a precious resource and we must campaign for the professional conditions that will enable all new teachers to flourish and enjoy a long and rewarding career in teaching.

  • Chris Keates is general secretary of the NASUWT.

Further information

NQT Special Edition: Free download

This article was published as part of SecEd’s NQT Special Edition – eight pages of best practice advice aimed at NQTs and trainee teachers as they come to the end of their first term. All eight pages, published in November 2018, can be downloaded as a free pdf via http://bit.ly/2FGrF77


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