It’s a question that I am getting asked more and more – so what’s the right answer….what should you be doing?
Let me start by saying that every Local Authority and Academy has a legal requirement to implement and oversee Induction arrangements for NQTs that they employ and there are set statutory requirements for how this should be carried out.
So just how should we view the Induction year?
Having achieved QTS the induction year should be viewed as an extension to NQT training. In other words, having completed their training and been awarded QTS the induction year aims to support an NQTs transition into full time classroom teaching whilst at the same time supporting and consolidating in the key skills and elements.
As such, perhaps we need to look at the induction year in a slightly different way. It is not simply a case of throwing newly qualified teachers into a classroom situation to sink or swim – it is about managed and supported transition which of course benefits not only the individual but also the school (and as such the pupils) itself.
Illustrated above is an excerpt from an induction standards document. The document sets out a progressive set of standards that are recommended to be met – how they may be shown to have been met and any evidence that supports this. There is also, and in my opinion, importantly a column to have dated and signed off by the mentor.
So what is the problem?
In theory there should be no problem with how this is implemented in a school, completed by the NQT and supported by the chosen mentor.
(N.B – Schemes and additional training are overseen through the Local Authority.)
But having said there should be no problems let’s look at what happens when and if problems arise.
- The NQT experiences some problems in his / her role and is not meeting some of the standards. This occurs more often than you may think – but the system is designed to accommodate such occurrences. As an extension to an individuals training, support features strongly in the whole Induction scheme. Should problems arise, then the school under the guidance of the mentor, should put into place a documented support programme which directly addresses the problem areas and ensures sufficient and targeted support is available.
- The school has unrealistic expectations for NQTs too early in the Induction year. This can often be a problem and excessive pressure from schools negates the progressive and developmental nature of the Induction year and can, at times, be a direct cause of failure.
(The following article looks at this further)
- The school and as such mentor does not follow the induction year correctly and has no requirement for the standards documentation to be completed. This can, and does cause huge problems for NQTs and whilst it might, on the surface seem an easy option; it can backfire hugely!
Let’s look at this as a major point to consider
I qualified many many years ago and in my training year as it was called there was barely any documentation. I seem to remember some colleagues keeping a diary but for the most part….
“If you were any good you got signed off – if you weren’t then you didn’t!”
As mentioned previously, the induction programme maps out the expected standards for the NQT to work towards and eventually be shown to meet. It also encompasses the support of a mentor and the provision of additional support and guidance if needed.
So if the school does NOT put this in place, or is notionally tipping their hat at this, then all the aforementioned do not exist!
In practice, and in the real world, that’s fine so long as everything goes smoothly and you are a strong NQT. But, and it’s a big BUT; what happens when things go wrong….and they do!
Schools; you have a responsibility to any NQT you may employ and that should not come as a shock to you. So, in my opinion, incumbent in that responsibility is the correct implementation of the Induction year….if you don’t then you are selling not only the NQT short but also your school!
My main concern is for those NQTs who are not being asked to document the induction year and then are being faced with unexpected judgements on their competency in certain areas.
On several occasions last year NQTs asked me for advice in this sort of situation. The schools concerned were informing NQTs that they were in danger of failing or would indeed be failed due to not meeting the standards required in certain areas.
My 1st question was, of course, towards the documentation. In these cases NO documentation had been kept and mentor support and input was marginal. As such, no progression had been followed nor evidence kept and signed off. If it was indeed the case that an NQT colleague needed support for a particular area then of course the school should have ensured that support had been planned and documented correctly…..which of course in these cases, it was not.
As such and quite incorrectly and unprofessionally in my opinion; NQTs were simply told that for example ” we cannot pass you at this point as your behaviour management is not good enough.” (In this particular example the NQT was told in the last week of the Autumn term…and this was the 1st time it had been mentioned)
The onus is on schools to ensure that Induction year standards, procedures and documentation are implemented fully for NQTs. In employing an NQT there is an inherent understanding that the school will follow this route for the long term benefit of not only the NQT but also the school and pupils.
However, as an NQT I am going to give you a word of caution. Should you find yourself in a school where this is not given the importance it should merit then it is up to you to put the documentation in place and to keep things up to date and most importantly SIGNED OFF as you progress.
In this way, not only will you be following, working towards and eventually meeting the official standards but you will have documented proof of your achievements and progression should you ever need it!