This CPD Week explores ways of viewing induction of NQTs more as a foundation for future professional and personal development than a hoop to be clearedpdf-3495135

CPD Week Info Sheet – NQTs recognising learning opportunities.pdf

Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
E E Cummings

The induction of newly qualified teachers remains one of the most important tasks a school can undertake regarding the professional learning of its staff.

Positive induction
Whether you’re a bustling high school with a dozen NQTs or a streamlined village primary with just a single new teacher (the first for several years), getting induction right for each individual is crucial. With training (usually challenging) behind them, the NQT year can make or break their teaching career; it’s when working patterns can be set and teachers’ confidence in their ability to do the job is anchored. Leave NQTs floundering, and history tells us that they’re unlikely to want to remain in the profession. Offer them professional support and guidance – a springboard from which to launch their careers – and they can thrive.

Most NQTs now know what induction holds for them; they know the hurdles they must overcome and the evidence they must produce to show what they have learned. But this is a relatively flat, one-dimensional approach. Induction should harness passions and offer a path for development that is targeted and personalised; a path that honours all the statutory duties but that also aids movement for the NQT through each step of their first year in the profession. The goal is to facilitate new learning as well as to consolidate what they already know through creative induction leadership so that outcomes are maximised in the classroom; keeping that focus on development as a classroom practitioner is key.

Most schools now have around a decade of experience of inducting NQTs, and there is a wealth of information out there on what actually works. If you’re keen to inject some energy into your school’s induction for NQTs, these ideas will help:

  • Induction is all about knowing, doing and understanding. There are distinct differences between them, meaning that induction needs to offer plenty of opportunities for NQTs to demonstrate all three, and reflect on their experiences.
  • NQTs need to be helped to make connections between prior and future learning, and between where they have been on their learning journey and where they are going next (to help them to appreciate progress over time).
  • Encourage genuine reflection. This isn’t about simple descriptions of what has happened, but rather about engaging in some kind of analysis which leads to future change. Simple descriptions do nothing to enhance development and are more time-wasting than anything. Taking a moment to reflect on how past actions might better inform future actions will always be fruitful.
  • Be mindful of the typical periods for slumps in NQTs’ energies. Around the October and February half-terms it’s quite usual for NQTs to experience doubts about their abilities and a sense of overwhelm at the amount of work the job entails. This is when NQTs can reap the rewards of quality reflection, secure in the knowledge that they have progressed.
  • Keep an ever-vigilant eye on the quality of relationships that NQTs are developing with colleagues, parents, pupils and so on. Teaching is all about relationships (some might say it is only about relationships), yet ironically these can be the first to slide when work pressures mount, leading to a downward spiral of negative stress.
  • Use induction as an opportunity for more experienced staff members to enhance their development through supporting NQTs. Never underestimate the extent to which this can facilitate learning on both sides! It’s worth making this implicit learning explicit, by encouraging all staff involved in induction to reflect fully on their experiences for their professional learning journals (click here for more information on learning journals).

Find out more…

This e-bulletin issue was first published in October 2009

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.