Supporting NQTs

New school year, newly qualified teachers: how can we best support them? Damien Roberts reports

As well as new students, the beginning of the new academic year may also bring with it a change in staff members, including some newly qualified teachers (NQTs). Settling into a new school can be a daunting prospect for even the most seasoned teachers; for NQTs, the process is even more important, and requires a great deal of communication with line managers. But with the new term kicking in fast, how can both NQTs and the senior leadership team (SLT) ensure they’re settling in and progressing on a regular basis?

Damien Roberts, business development director at SchooliP by Derventio utilises years of knowledge and discusses how technology can be used by a school’s SLT to support NQTs in their first days at school and throughout the year.

Supporting the NQT

For NQTs, the first year of teaching is full of new responsibilities, experiences and opportunities to build on. It is a time to put into practice the knowledge they have already acquired and should be a fully supported journey to ensure standards are met, confidence is built and skills are developed. 

Throughout the induction period, regular observation and monitoring sessions will take place to ensure progress is being made, but what can NQTs do to ensure their first year (or longer if part-time) is as effective and successful as possible? As many will be aware, in its ‘Induction for newly qualified teachers’ guidance, the Department for Education (DfE) states that performance will be measured against the relevant standards to ensure a satisfactory outcome. It also highlights that the right support and tools need to be given to NQTs to meet their professional development needs, so that ultimately they become effective and successful teachers. 

Observations and evidence building

At the start of the induction period, objectives for each individual will need to be set. Strengths and weaknesses on both an individual and whole-school level need to be considered, looking at what each NQT wants to achieve throughout the year, and how they relate to the teaching standards and overall school priorities.

An NQT’s teaching should then be observed on a regular basis to gain a transparent and effective assessment of their performance

An NQT’s teaching should then be observed on a regular basis to gain a transparent and effective assessment of their performance. As part of their assessment, NQTs will need to provide evidence of their progress which can be drawn directly from their own teaching throughout the induction period. While this could be a lengthy, and sometimes tedious process, the impact of technology means that schools no longer have to manage admin and paper trails manually. Instead, investing in resources that integrate all aspects of professional development and evidence collecting, not only helps NQTs keep everything in one place, but also helps all staff take ownership of their performance management and monitor their objectives throughout the year.

Each NQT will be able to contribute to their own portfolio at the touch of a button, using photographs and videos related to their teaching, to support their objectives and showcase their performance throughout the induction period. 

Regular reviews and conversations

Regular reviews between the mentor or line manager and NQT will take place throughout the induction year, to ensure objectives are supported with evidence of the NQT’s teaching. The objectives should be checked against the standards as well as the strengths and needs of the individual. They can then be monitored and altered at points throughout the year if necessary. As well as face-to-face meetings, reinforcing these conversations online can provide a direct link between NQTs and their induction mentors. This helps to maintain an open channel of communication, so that goals and issues can be discussed as and when they arise, rather than waiting for termly progress meetings. 

With a busy academic year ahead, it’s never easy for staff, including NQTs to keep in touch with their mentors to regularly assess their progress through the year. However using software and resources that enable all parties to record and maintain a two-way stream of communication can make the process a lot simpler and transparent so that, when reviewing achievements and progress, there are no surprises regarding outcomes.

To ensure a successful first year, an effective monitoring and support programme needs to be put in place. Taking time to plan and support NQTs will ensure they flourish as outstanding teachers beyond their induction. Putting these processes in place will mean that by the end of the assessment period, schools will have enthusiastic NQTs that will positively impact the school as a whole, helping to maintain staff retention and, more importantly, maximising the outcomes of students.

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