Monday 9 July 2012

A Warning to New NQTs

Many new NQTs will have already started their new jobs, just like I did last July. Because of this, I thought now might be an appropriate time to warn the newbies about the potential dangers ahead. Please note that, for once, I'm not joking.

I have been very lucky. My time as an NQT, whilst a million kilometres from easy, was completely straight forward and untroubled. This is because I was fortunate enough to choose (and be chosen by) an amazing academy with incredibly supportive professional and subject mentors. Some of my friends weren't so lucky.

There is a fairly scary rule that you might not be aware of: if you fail your induction year (your NQT year), you will never be allowed to be a teacher in a normal school. Ever. You are never allowed to retake the year, so you will remain unqualified forever (although you will still technically have QTS - Qualified Teacher Status).

So, yeah, the stakes are pretty high. You do not want to fail this year.

I remember thinking this time last year that there was absolutely no risk of me failing. I thought you would only fail your NQT if you were seriously bad. I mean, we've all seen really bad teachers, and they've managed to pass. But it turns out, failing is easier than I thought.

Even if you got an "outstanding" or "good" rating for your PGCE, you are still at risk of failing. I know this from experience. You won't fail due to poor teaching, but you may well fail due to poor support from your school.

Here are my tips for avoiding failing:

  • You are entitled to meetings with your induction tutor. Make sure you ask for these! If possible, request these meetings via email, so that you have proof that you have asked for them. That way if they do not give you these meetings (because your tutor is too busy) then at least you can say you asked. The importance of this will become more obvious later.
  • When it is time to fill in an assessment period form (at the end of each term), make sure the school fills it in, in consultation with you, and sends it off. Ask them outright whether you are at risk of failing. If they say yes, ask for the support plan that you are entitled to. If they say no, make sure that is clearly expressed on the paperwork.
  • If the school does decide to fail you (because, perhaps, it's cheaper to get you fired and hire a new NQT, or because it's cheaper to fail you than make you redundant), then you have two options:
  1. Accept it, and ask if you can resign early (before mid-June). That way, it won't count as you failing, it will count as your year being incomplete. You can then get a job elsewhere and finish your induction period.
  2. Dispute it. This is where the documentation comes in: if you have evidence that the school has refused to give you regular induction tutor meetings, or if they refused to make a support plan for you after identifying that you were failing, or if they wrote on your previous paperwork that you were not at risk of failing, then you have a good case against your school. If you are a member of a union then they can help you.

Know what you're entitled to:
 (taken from the TES website)
Under induction NQTs should have the following:
1.       A job description that does not make unreasonable demands.
2.       An induction tutor.
3.       Meetings with the induction tutor.
4.       The Career Entry and Development Profile discussed by the NQT and induction tutor.
5.       Objectives, informed by the strengths and areas for development identified in the CEDP, to help NQTs improve so that they meet the standards for the induction period.
6.       A ten per cent reduction in timetable - this will be in addition to PPA time.
7.       A planned programme of how to spend that time, such as observations of other teachers.
8.       At least one observation each half term with oral and written feedback, meaning a minimum of at least six a year.
9.       An assessment meeting and report towards the end of each term.
10.    Procedures for NQTs to air grievances about their induction provision at school and a named person to contact at the Appropriate Body, which is the local authority or the independent schools’ council teacher induction panel (ISCTIP).
Your induction tutor will probably be really busy and may forget to do these things, or try to avoid doing these things. Ask for them! They are not allowed to say no!

I don't mean to be all pessimistic and scaremongery but I'm pretty sure my friends who have narrowly avoided losing their ability to teach forever never thought this time last year that this would happen to them. Unfortunately some schools are just not supportive of NQTs. If you do have a bad experience, make sure you let your ITT provider (the university you got your teaching qualification from) know so that they can dissuade future NQTs from starting there.

I wish all new NQTs the best of luck in their new jobs!

Emma x x x
(still an NQT for two more weeks!)


  1. What a crazy and stupid NQT rule! This can only happen in England! Even surgeons are allowed to fail their exams and retake them many times. This is utter nonsense and ought to be revised. When did this obscene rule come into force?

  2. If you follow proto you should not fail.