Diary of an NQT: Keeping up with the workload

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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With exams approaching, SecEd's NQT diarist has more on his plate than ever, but is still finding the time to attend important CPD opportunities...

These last few weeks I have had more to do than ever before. Another parents’ evening, more data drops, communicating with parents and responding to what felt like a million emails.

At times it has felt like an impossibility to keep up with the workload. Keeping track of the tasks I have to do each day can be exceedingly difficult, especially when the tasks in question cannot be completed immediately. It is so easy to get distracted by another job that needs doing and completely forget about something else.

In order to combat this problem, I have started taking a sticky notepad around with me wherever I go. Whenever I get a task that needs doing, I write it on the notepad, prioritise what needs doing first and then at the end of the teaching day I work my way through the remaining tasks before heading home. Who would have thought that sticky notes would have become such a life-saver?


Last month I set myself a target of using a resource bank of past paper questions I had recently accumulated as part of year 11 exam preparation. A few weeks ago, I led an after-school revision session for a group of approximately 35 year 11 pupils.

At first, I was really nervous about this as, while I had done revision sessions before, they had only been with a dozen or so pupils. However, I found the session to be both enlightening and rewarding. It was so uplifting to see so many pupils working extremely hard to not only achieve their own goals, but also encourage their peers to do the same.

Organising and categorising past paper questions by topic may have been time-consuming, but it was certainly worthwhile. Not only has it helped me to prepare my year 11 pupils for their exams, but it has even helped with the rest of my classes. I have been setting GCSE past paper questions as stretch and challenge activities for my key stage 3 groups and planning lessons based around accessing and breaking down six-mark past paper questions to help improve my pupils’ scientific writing.


A couple of weeks ago I attended an annual NQT conference where I got to meet fellow NQTs from the local area and participate in several workshops. Overall, I found it to be a valuable experience and one that I would certainly recommend to fellow NQTs.

Other training is also just as valuable. On several occasions this year I have received CPD training from the Institute of Physics. Not only has this helped me feel more secure in my own subject knowledge, but it has also been invaluable in improving my pedagogy.

While it is common knowledge that all pupils are different and alternative methods work best for different individuals, how to successfully apply those strategies is one of the fundamental aspects that defines good teaching practice. This is something I have been striving to improve throughout the year and my lessons are slowly evolving as a result of this.

My target for next month is to make my lessons far less “PowerPoint focused” and get out of my comfort zone more. I intend to do this by doing more work on the whiteboard and using more demonstrations with real-life links – thus making my lessons more engaging for my pupils.

By increasing class engagement in lessons, I am hoping that pupils will find the lessons more memorable, productivity will increase and therefore pupils will find it easier to recall information in their tests.

  • Our NQT diarist is a science teacher at a comprehensive school in the West of England.


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