The TES reports that we are now at that point in the year when schools will be trying to finalise their staffing structures for September. Teachers will soon be finding out which year group they will be in, which classes they will be allocated and some will be anticipating stepping up to take on a leadership position for the first time.
Along with the internal manoeuvring, a whole swathe of new NQTs will have just been appointed and will be enjoying that final longest of summers before stepping into their own classroom for the first time. Most of us will recall that sense of optimism and anticipation that comes with being an NQT, waiting to start your first teaching job. It’s that sense of knowing you’re about to embark on a career that really matters.
Every qualified teacher has been an NQT. They know the joy that having your own class brings – and, equally, they know the scale of the challenge that accompanies your first full year of teaching. As a profession, we have a duty to nurture and develop those entering the classroom for the first time. That’s why the recent research by education datalab showing the high turnover rate of NQTs in some schools should be a real cause for concern.
Personally, I would be in favour of a move to a longer NQT/induction period as long as it is about a longer period of support and guidance, and not an excuse to pay our newest recruits less. Nor should it make them easier to “get rid” – this would clearly be the exact opposite of what I’m arguing for. We should also guard against any increase in the unnecessary hoop-jumping and paperwork that many NQTs find such a distraction.
Instead, this should be about an entitlement to high-quality, specialised CPD, a longer period of mentoring from experienced colleagues and an acknowledgement that it may take more than three terms to reach the sort of levels that are now expected of teachers. Approached in this way, such a change has the potential to be a real force for good.
From the profession’s perspective, we shouldn’t lower our expectations, but we should keep in mind how much those expectations have grown over time and focus on providing the best possible level of support. The unwritten contract between experienced and new professionals is an essential one.
And to those who have just landed their first teaching role, while there will be plenty of highs and lows in the year ahead, you really have chosen the best job in the world – congratulations.
It’s not just the NQTs that need support. What about those returning after a career break or maternity leave? What do you suggest? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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