Case study 1

Induction information for NQTs

Jonathan A. Cooper, History Teacher

How I have benefited from the support and guidance in school in general and during induction in particular.

I was enjoying my last few weeks of my PGCE, having finally got to grips with my assigned classes and the intricacies of the lesson planning process, so I was no longer spending four times as long planning a lesson as actually teaching it. Then I received an email from my new Head of Department – inviting me to visit the school for a couple of days in the summer term in order to prepare for September and a sudden realisation dawned on me. No more 50% timetables, no more “days off” back at the University. This was it, the real thing. My own tutor group, exam classes, piles of essays to mark and my first teacher’s planner. To add to this, I had to move to a completely new city.

The day of the visit duly arrived. It felt like I was going for another interview. Excited but nervous I waited in reception for the Head of Department to greet me. Instant relief. He was smiling and delighted to see me, dispelling my “interview nerves” immediately. We had a friendly chat as we crossed the quad to the departmental office. It was from this point that I received an exceptional level of support from across the school. This has been above and beyond what I expected and what I understood had been received from fellow NQTs employed elsewhere. Yes, I had some days where I only get one free period out of the 8. Yes, I was timetabled to teach GCSE and A-level groups, and yes I was handed my shiny new teachers’ planner. But this was the reason that I had applied for this job. I had the opportunity to work with some great teachers and pupils and gain opportunities, responsibility and guidance. My Head of Department even helped to arrange possible accommodation for me for September.

The chance to come into the school and meet colleagues and pupils before the start of the academic year was very beneficial. I gained a real insight into what was expected from me, the topics I would be teaching, how I could best deliver them and the extra-curricular and pastoral opportunities open to me. When September came, I felt prepared, ready and raring to go, confident in the knowledge that I had strong support and guidance in place for me.

Working with my colleagues in the History Department has been particularly beneficial in my NQT year. Friendly, professional and approachable, all have been excellent role models and have gone out their way to help and support me when requested. My curriculum mentor (the Head of Department) has provided useful weekly meetings to discuss issues relevant to my development and teachers other departments have willingly allowed me into their lessons to observe best practice and helped to develop my own skills. Of particular benefit has been my mentor’s unending willingness to offer advice, check over and share lesson ideas, moderate the marking of my essays and to answers the simplest of questions about the school. And, of course, to be always on hand when the going gets tough. Hand in hand with this has been the role of my Induction Tutor (IT) and other colleagues. Weekly meetings with the IT and my fellow NQTs have provided a good platform from which to seek guidance and a great chance to let off steam with the others in a similar position as myself. A real interest in the development of my career was obvious right from the start and meetings with the Headmaster and Second Master about various issues, some planned and others on my request, displayed that support was evident from the very top of the management structure. Chats over lunch or a drink in the evening with staff from across the school have been equally important and reassuring. This is of a massive benefit because it gives me the confidence that as I go about my day to day work, I do not feel watched over but I am aware that I always have someone to whom I can turn to for advice.

I was keen to gain a tutor group and the school arranged for me to have a Year 8 group with an excellent Head of House and Head of Year to support me, who again proffered praise and advice in order to boost my confidence. The school also provided me with opportunities to enhance my professional development out of the classroom, such as the chance to take part in extra-curricular activities including a Ski trip to the USA, and to help in the establishment of a Model UN at the school. I was keen to participate fully in the wider aspects of school life but I was unsure whether I would have the opportunity and time to do so during my NQT year. However, the support that I have received induction has allowed me to do so. These, together with other departmental trips, including ones overseas, have provided some of my most rewarding moments during the year and I feel the school’s encouragement and support in these matters have been pivotal in my development as a newly qualified teacher.