NQT Special: Your rights and entitlements as an NQT

Written by: Chris Keates | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

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...

As the end of term edges closer, NQTs are approaching this first key milestone in their induction year.

So far there will no doubt have been the rewarding highs of being instrumental in children and young people making progress, demonstrating why teaching is one of the best and most satisfying of the professions. There will also have been the growing realisation of the intense demands and challenges of 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 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 positive experiences. Some schools fail to provide the statutory entitlements.

Too many NQTs face excessive classroom observation with no feedback or constructive comment, and others are allocated classes of pupils who are known to exhibit extremely challenging behaviour, even with the most experienced of teachers.

It is important that these concerns are raised and addressed at the earliest possible stage. For example, supportive and developmental observation, which includes meeting with the observer prior to the lesson to discuss the focus of the observation and receiving verbal and written feedback afterwards which highlights all the positives observed and constructively details the areas for development, can make an enormous difference to a successful outcome to induction. But it is the quality, not quantity, of classroom observation which is important.

The NASUWT has a wealth of experience in successfully supporting NQTs in addressing a range of concerns, but by far the most overwhelming issue raised by our members is excessive workload. Bureaucratic marking and assessment policies, data-driven target setting and administrative burdens are the challenge for even the most experienced teachers.

I am proud that the NASUWT has moved to address this through our campaign 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 NASUWT was also instrumental in forcing the government to recognise the problem of excessive workload by establishing working groups to look at lesson planning, marking and data collection. The three reports from the government’s working groups contain many useful recommendations that can be used to challenge unacceptable workload-intensive practices in schools and should be on every teacher’s reading list.

Newly qualified, and indeed, experienced teachers should be aware that triple marking is not required and there is no evidence that it aids pupil progress or raises standards. There are no requirements for marking of a particular type or volume. 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. There is no requirement for lesson observations to be graded. If Ofsted no longer grades lessons, no school should either.

Evidence makes clear that assessment burdens are one of the biggest causes of excessive workload, particularly as schools have sought to address the removal of national curriculum levels. Every teacher knows that good assessment is essential for effective teaching and learning. However, this should not lead to bureaucratic and wasteful tracking and record-keeping requirements that distract teachers from concentrating on teaching.

This is why the working groups were clear that formative assessments are for the teacher to support the pupil, not to provide reporting for schools. Formative assessment data should not be collected. On summative data, the working group was clear that such data should not be collected more than three times per-pupil, per-year.

Requirements to produce mountains of lesson plans, deep mark every piece of work, constantly collect, analyse and input data should therefore be challenged.

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.

The NASUWT will 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.

The union has a network of support for new teachers and provides comprehensive advice and guidance. Our NQT induction planner, free to members, guides NQTs through the induction year giving useful prompts, tips and advice. This is complemented by a programme of professional seminars for NQT members.

At a time when there is a crisis in teacher supply, employers and governments cannot afford to fail to nurture new talent in the profession. It is a precious resource. Schools should recognise how valuable NQTs are and ensure their professional needs are met.

  • Chris Keates is general secretary of the NASUWT.

Further information

The reports of the Workload Challenge working groups (DfE, March 2016) can be found at:

NQT Special Edition

This article has been published as part of SecEd’s autumn 2017 NQT Special Edition – eight pages of guidance, advice and practical tips for new teachers. Topics range from wellbeing, workload an work/life balance, to classroom advice, feedback tips, behaviour management and advice about your own rights and entitlements. You can download the entire eight-page section as a free pdf via http://bit.ly/2Bv5dIc


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