NQT Special: Making a difference for new teachers

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

In her introduction to SecEd's June 2016 NQT Special Edition, Chris Keates looks at the entitlements and support that all NQTs should be receiving from their schools

Whether you are coming to the end of your first year in the profession or anticipating the start of your induction year you will have the satisfaction of knowing that teaching is one of the best, most satisfying and worthwhile of the professions. You will also be aware that it is highly demanding and challenging.

For those coming to the end of their first year as a teacher, hopefully you will have had a positive experience, providing you with an excellent grounding for the next stage in your career.

High-quality mentoring, the provision of all your statutory induction entitlements and on-going support and encouragement from your colleagues and managers makes a real and positive difference to induction.

At a time when teacher supply is in crisis, decision-makers should take note that many new teachers would be pleased to stay on in teaching providing they were managed by those who understand the day-to-day realities of classroom teaching, and if they were encouraged to stay in the profession by being giving security of employment, fair access to pay progression and professional respect.

The experience of new teachers in that first year is critical for the future of the profession. New teachers are the lifeblood of our education system, but too many are choosing to walk away from the profession they have chosen because they have not been supported and valued.

Workload is a particular concern. It is not only the top concern for teachers generally, but also a particular concern for new teachers. Bureaucratic marking and assessment policies, data-driven target-setting and administrative burdens are defeating even the most experienced teachers, stripping them of their professional agency as well as crippling them with workload.

I am proud that the NASUWT has moved to address this through our short of strike action campaign which aims to empower teachers to resist these unprofessional impositions which do nothing to enhance teaching and learning. I am also pleased that as a result of the NASUWT presenting ministers with our detailed research on workload, combined with our action and lobbying, we secured Ofsted clarification guidance which dispels the myth peddled in too many schools that Ofsted requires a specific type of lesson-planning and marking system.

The action was also instrumental in securing government working parties to look at lesson-planning, marking and data collection and the reports from these working parties contain many useful recommendations that can be used to challenge unacceptable workload-intensive practices in schools.

For those of you who are starting out on your induction year in September, the NASUWT will support you in preparing for your first teaching post and in ensuring that you receive your statutory entitlements to:

  • A reduction in timetabled teaching, in addition to a contractual entitlement to 10 per cent guaranteed planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time.
  • Teaching only the age range or subject for which you 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.

The induction period is intended to lay firm and positive foundations and provide a positive start to professional development and a career in teaching.

While some NQTs have a positive and supportive experience, unfortunately, others do not receive not only their induction entitlements but are also denied fundamental and important contractual provisions such as guaranteed PPA time, which, when taken together with their induction time, should result in a reduction in timetabled teaching time of 20 per cent.

NQTs generally welcome developmental and supportive classroom observation, in which they meet with the observer prior to the lesson to discuss the focus of the observation and have verbal and written feedback afterwards which highlights all the positives observed and constructively details the areas for development. It is the quality, not quantity, of classroom observation which is important and it is disappointing that there are still too many NQTs who report being observed, sometimes excessively so, with no feedback or constructive comment.

NQTs are entitled as part of their induction to have timetabled classes with whom they can work on a regular basis to allow them to gain experience and build a rapport with the pupils. It is not acceptable for a NQT to be allocated classes of pupils who are known to exhibit extremely challenging behaviour even with the most experienced of teachers.

We believe that provisions should be in place to ensure that in whatever school an NQT begins their career, they have a consistent, high-quality experience which instils confidence and nurtures the passion new teachers need to continue in the profession.

The induction entitlements are in place for a reason. They are designed to ensure your induction year provides a structured and high-quality introduction into the profession and helps you to develop the skills and expertise you need to become a great teacher. Do not think these rights don’t matter or be afraid to stand up to secure them.

Successfully completing your induction year is a key milestone in acquiring the practical and pedagogical skills needed to teach to the highest standards. For those of you who have completed induction and are about to enter your second year, on the horizon will be the new challenge of performance management and appraisal.

This is an important process and practice varies between schools. The NASUWT seminars, online tutorial and handbook on taking control of your performance management provide vital information to enable you to ensure that the process is professional and positive and that it enables you to challenge unfair and inappropriate practices.

New and recently qualified teachers are the future of the education service. They are a precious resource not to be squandered. Whatever stage you reach in your career, the NASUWT will be there to advise and support.

  • Chris Keates is general secretary of the NASUWT.

NQT Special Edition

This article was published as part of SecEd's NQT Special Edition on June 30, 2016. Published with support from the NASUWT, the Special Edition features eight pages of best practice and advisory articles aimed at NQTs as they come to the end of their first year of teaching, and trainee teachers as they prepare for NQT life in September. Download a free pdf of the Special Edition, via our Supplements page at www.sec-ed.co.uk/supplements or directly via http://bit.ly/290nqhD


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