Diary of an NQT: Catching up after ‘the beast’

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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A three-day school closure due to the weather has left our NQT diarist having to revisit both his assessment and lesson schedules...

As mentioned in my last diary entry, my students are currently undergoing assessments in all curriculum areas.

Everything was going according to plan until the country ground to a halt due to the so-called “beast from the east” snow-storm. Our senior leaders took the decision to close the school on Wednesday and we remained closed on the Thursday and Friday. It was the right decision – I live five minutes away from school and yet couldn’t get my car out of my road due to the conditions.

Although the extra days at home were refreshing and allowed me to mark the assessments that have already been completed, the time off caused great disruption to my carefully planned assessment schedule.

For instance, the year 7 class that I see only once a fortnight missed the lesson set aside for their assessment, meaning that it will have to be delayed until the end of next week. Fortunately, the deadline for year 7 and 8 data has been pushed back a week, meaning that the assessments will be completed in time, but with a very short turnaround to get them marked and put on the school system.

My year 11 students sat their mock exam on the Tuesday prior to the snows days, which means that I was able to start marking them while stranded at home. Their exams will be the most complicated and time-consuming to mark, so it was fortuitous that they were completed prior to the disruption.

My year 9 history class had also completed their assessments prior to the snow days, while my English classes completed their assessments on the first two days of this week. This has not been easy for the students, as they have lost valuable preparation time, but they have tackled their assessments with great determination and seem to have done well.

My year 10 classes will sit their assessments next week, by which time I will have hopefully marked all of the assessments that have already been completed by other year groups.

Another problem caused by the weather has been the loss of curriculum time, particularly for key stage 4 pupils. Due to the mock exams and the snow, I have lost five hours of lesson time with my year 11 students, which is a significant amount at such a crucial stage in their education.

We have recently started our final GCSE topic and the introduction to this area of study has been more fragmented than I would have hoped for.
This means that I will have to focus closely on consolidating my students’ knowledge of what has already been studied before carrying on with the scheme of work.

The disruption caused by the weather has added even more pressure to an already difficult time in school. I have written before about the importance of remaining calm during stressful times – in teaching, the best laid plans are often thrown off course and it is vital for practitioners to react to such changes in a proactive but measured fashion.

However, the support of colleagues has made these unforeseen circumstances much easier to navigate. Everyone has pulled together to ensure that the assessments will be completed, marked and returned to the students as quickly as possible. For instance, a colleague with whom I share a class has kindly offered to deliver a revision lesson to the students prior to them sitting their assessment.

This highlights the importance of teamwork when it comes to education. When things go wrong, it is only through whole-school collaboration that our plans can be put back on track.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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