The quality of an NQTs induction can shape their entire school career, in terms of their CPD. So how can schools ensure NQTs have the best possible introduction to their school? Elizabeth Holmes investigates

It’s a make or break year for newly qualified teachers but just how effective are schools at delivering quality induction to every new entrant to the profession? As schools continue to evolve their personal and professional development practices, induction seems to be getting an overhaul, which is great news for the profession as a whole. Yet there’s still work to be done to ensure that individual NQTs receive the kind of targeted and consistently supportive induction that will see them launch into their careers with confidence and skill.

This September sees the launch of slightly tweaked induction arrangements and accompanying guidance from the DCSF (see information box overleaf). All the same, underlying principles remain: NQTs must still continue to reach the standards for Qualified Teacher Status and work towards being able to demonstrate the full range of core standards. There are some significant changes though, for example:

  • further education institutions can now offer induction for NQTs under certain specific circumstances
  • what constitutes the ‘induction period’ is now clearer and more flexible
  • the appropriate body can now shorten induction under certain specific circumstances by up to 29 days
  • the General Teaching Council for England has a day longer to communicate its decisions on appeals
  • there is no longer a requirement to complete induction within five years of starting.

Planning sound induction is the key to getting it right for NQTs. According to the Teachers Directorate at the TDA, statutory induction is the bridge between initial teacher training and teaching. It combines a personalised programme of development, support and professional dialogue with monitoring and an assessment of performance. And this is key to planning great induction. Making sure that you hit each feature, such as development and support, monitoring and assessment, will help to ensure that your NQTs are nurtured in the best possible way.

For the Teachers Directorate, an effective induction programme should enable new teachers to build on and extend the knowledge and skills developed during initial teacher training and provide the foundation for continuing professional development. The Teachers Directorate is keen to highlight that there are key steps to take when ensuring this is the case for your NQTs:

  • Induction tutors should be assigned as early as possible before the new school term in which an NQT’s induction begins. This important step should not be left until the term is under way. Encourage NQTs to make early contact with their induction tutors too.
  • Induction tutors should plan their induction programme with each NQT before they take up their first teaching post.
  • As induction progresses through the year, induction tutors and NQTs should be working closely together to ensure all induction activities are specifically targeted to the development needs of the NQT.
  • NQTs should have access to a wide range of development opportunities, including the chance to observe other teachers.
  • NQTs should be provided with a named contact outside of their school or college, normally someone within the local authority or the Independent Schools Council teacher induction panel (ISCtip), whom they can talk to regarding their induction. 
  • The NQT must be provided with a reduced timetable of no more than 90% of the usual timetable for classroom teachers in the school during their induction period. This is in addition to their planning, preparation and pupil assessment (PPA) time. An NQT’s additional non-contact time must be used for planned developmental activities and should be protected.
  • The NQTs’ induction tutor (or other appropriate staff) should observe them teaching on a planned cycle and meet with them regularly to discuss and review overall progress. 
  • Each NQT should have three formal assessments over the course of their induction period. These should usually be at the end of term for those who work full-time, and be conducted by the induction tutor or headteacher.
  • After each of the first two formal assessment meetings, the headteacher will report to the local authority or to ISCtip (where appropriate) on the progress the NQT is making towards meeting the core standards. 
  • At the end of induction, the headteacher makes a recommendation as to whether the NQT has successfully met the core standards.

The key to great and successful induction is to keep it simple. If induction is successful expect NQTs to: 

  • be able to demonstrate the full range of core standards and continue to demonstrate the standards for QTS
  • have a sense of their full potential and feel safe to show it
  • be making rapid advancements towards excellence in teaching
  • begin making a real impact on the development of your school and pupils.

Achieve that, and it will be a job well done. 

Case study: key features of NQT induction at Elm Grove First School, West Sussex

We begin induction before our NQTs start working with us, when our bursar sends them relevant information about Elm Grove and details of the kinds of issues and policies which have to be covered during induction  – for example, health and safety, teaching and learning and so on. We do this via email or during the two or three short visits we invite them to make, if possible, so that our NQTs can have time to digest the information before the start of term. Once they arrive in September, I spend time talking to them about the school’s expectations. They are also assigned a professional learning mentor in school and others who may act as ‘buddies’.

External support
We buy into the local authority package for NQTs, which means we can pick and choose the professional development training which is right for them as well as helping to ensure that NQTs get to meet others in the area. We also look at the TDA’s Career Entry and Development Profile as a tool for making sure the induction we provide is targeted and linked into needs which have been determined by the NQTs themselves rather than imposed on them.

Here at Elm Grove, we also use some software called Blue Sky, which helps NQTs to measure their perceptions of their skills sets by looking at the core standards for teachers. We find it useful to have an electronic system as a way of keeping track of everything and offering NQTs a method for reflecting on their practice and progress in a way that allows them to keep private what they want to keep private and share with me what they choose to make public. Using Blue Sky and the CEDP helps us to identify the key targets to work on throughout induction.

Regular contact
Once induction is under way we have short weekly meetings which are focused on the NQTs’ learning needs as they develop over the year. In my experience there is a dip in confidence around the October half-term and the February half-term and these weekly meetings help to avoid this. It’s important to watch out for dips in energy and self-esteem. We make sure that we enlist everybody in supporting new teachers. People can make the assumption that they will automatically pick things up but you have to be explicit and up-front about everything that you want NQTs to know about. It’s about making sure that the seemingly small and insignificant issues get covered as well as the really important things. Signpost procedures and make information accessible, then you’re giving NQTs every chance of success.

Matching support to needs
It’s important to appreciate that late entrants to the profession can have specific needs as NQTs. Some find it quite isolating and those who are conscientious can become swamped with work. That’s the time when you have to make sure they don’t take work home and that they get proper weekend breaks.

Pauline Warren, headteacher

Case study: NQT induction at Shirley High School, Croydon

We have a two-week paid induction period in the summer term before the NQTs commence work with us in the autumn. During this period they are attached to a form tutor and spend time observing staff inside and outside of their own subject area, as well as working on resources and planning. They also have sessions with the NQT coordinator – primarily about portfolios and school systems, the Senco, the head of ICT and the Hearing Resource Centre for Croydon, which is based at our school. When our NQTs start working with us, we assign them a mentor and the amount of time they spend together is slightly ad hoc but they meet at least once a week. We try to ensure that mentors are those working in the same or similar departments so that regular contact is relatively easily achieved.

Weekly meetings
Our NQTs have a programme of weekly sessions on generic topics such as voice care, behaviour management, writing reports, dealing with parents and so on. These are delivered by other teachers in the school (which is great for their performance management and general development) or we buy in expertise or share sessions with neighbouring schools as well as very occasionally dipping into the LA-provided sessions. Our school sessions aren’t just open to NQTs. Anyone in the school who thinks it may be relevant to them can attend, regardless of their role. We are all learning together; it’s a continuous process, and not one that involves only NQTs.

Action research
While NQTs are working through their induction we ask them to undertake a piece of action research. This is a great way of encouraging them to do some reflective writing and their conclusions go on to inform policy change within the school, which is extremely empowering. I think this is the most exciting part of their induction; they are contributing to real change in the school in their very first year in the profession. This part of the programme was initiated by Alan Foskett, the senior deputy head.

This year we’re also trying out a CPD wiki just for our staff. We want to give them the opportunity to publish short reflective pieces and share resources such as the dissemination of good practice and externally provided CPD. In other professions there is an expectation that practitioners will contribute to the body of knowledge but, ironically, that’s not the case in teaching .

We’re seeking to address that by saying to staff that we want and value their contributions and offering them a platform on which to share. The NQT manager, Michelle Francis, and I will work closely on these developments over the next 12 months to ensure that the process from beginning teacher or graduate trainee to NQT and on throughout the career is a seamless one. We also want to be certain that the strategic development of the school, the performance management cycle and CPD are all tied together.

Jan Moreland, deputy head and CPD coordinator

‘Must have’ induction resources

  • Statutory Guidance on Induction for Newly Qualified Teachers in England, DCSF, ref: 00364-2008, available to download from www.teachernet.gov.uk/publications.
  • The Newly Qualified Teacher’s Handbook (Routledge, ISBN 9780415445962) has been updated to incorporate all you need to know about the new arrangements.
  • The TDA provides advice and guidance for NQTs and schools through its website: www.tda.gov.uk/induction. There is also advice on early professional development and making links between induction and the subsequent years of teaching: www.tda.gov.uk/partners/cpd/epd/priorities/building_on_induction
  • General advice on early professional development can be found on the TDA website.
  • If you want the ins and outs of induction straight from the horse’s mouth, it is detailed in Statutory Instrument 2008 No 657, Education, England: The Education (Induction Arrangements for School Teachers) (England) Regulations 2008 available to download from the Office of Public Sector Information website.
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