Starting your NQT induction
Your NQT induction can seem like a daunting prospect. There are a lot of policies, practices and procedures you need to read and get to grips with during your induction – not to mention, you have to start teaching on top of that! It is easy to feel overwhelmed by it all, but it is important to remember, you are not alone.
This article takes you through the professional responsibilities you will be expected to meet under the ‘Teachers’ Standards’, as well as six good practice suggestions to help you successfully complete your NQT induction. The professional standards and the tips outlined within this article will remain relevant during your time as a teacher.
Your professional responsibilities
As the ‘Teachers’ Standards’ apply to the vast majority of teachers, including those who are completing their statutory induction period, it is important that you understand the professional responsibilities that you will be assessed against.
The ‘Teachers’ Standards’ come in two parts:
- Part one: teaching
- Part two: personal and professional conduct
Under part one, you will be expected to meet the following standards:
Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
- Establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect
- Set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions
- Demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values and behaviour which are expected of pupils
Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils
- Be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes
- Be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these
- Guide pupils to reflect on the progress they have made and their emerging needs
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching
- Encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study
Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
- Have a secure knowledge of your subject(s) and curriculum area(s), foster and maintain pupils’ interest in the subject, and address misunderstandings
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of developments in your subject and curriculum areas, and promote the value of scholarship
- Demonstrate an understanding of and take responsibility for promoting high standards of literacy articulacy and the correct use of standard English, whatever your specialist subject
- If teaching early reading, demonstrate a clear understanding of systematic synthetic phonics
- If teaching early mathematics, demonstrate a clear understanding of appropriate teaching strategies
Plan and teach well-structured lessons
- Impart knowledge and develop understanding through effective use of lesson time
- Promote a love of learning and children’s intellectual curiosity
- Set homework and plan other out-of-class activities to consolidate and extend the knowledge and understanding pupils have acquired
- Reflect systematically on the effectiveness of lessons and approaches to teaching
- Contribute to the design and provision of an engaging curriculum within your subject area(s)
Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
- Know when and how to differentiate appropriately, using approaches which enable pupils to be taught effectively
- Have a secure understanding of how a range of factors can inhibit pupils’ ability to learn, and how best to overcome these
- Demonstrate an awareness of the physical, social and intellectual development of children, and know how to adapt teaching to support pupils’ education at different stages of development
- Have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with SEND; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them
Make accurate and productive use of assessment
- Know and understand how to assess your subject and curriculum areas, including statutory assessment requirements
- Make use of formative and summative assessment to secure pupils’ progress
- Use relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons
- Give pupils regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking, and encourage pupils to respond to the feedback
Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
- Have clear rules and routines for behaviour in classrooms, and take responsibility for promoting good and courteous behaviour both in classrooms and around the school, in accordance with the school’s Behavioural Policy
- Have high expectations of behaviour and establish a framework for discipline with a range of strategies, using praise, sanctions and rewards consistently and fairly
- Manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them
- Maintain good relationships with pupils, exercise appropriate authority, and act decisively when necessary
Fulfil wider professional responsibilities
- Make a positive contribution to the wider life and ethos of the school
- Develop effective professional relationships with colleagues, knowing how and when to draw on advice and specialist support
- Deploy support staff effectively
- Take responsibility for improving teaching through appropriate professional development, responding to advice and feedback from colleagues
- Communicate effectively with parents with regard to pupils’ achievements and wellbeing
You will also be expected to meet the following standards under part two:
- Uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside of school, by:
- Treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position.
- Having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ wellbeing, in accordance with statutory provisions.
- Showing tolerance of and respect for the rights of others
- Not undermining fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
- Ensuring that personal beliefs are not expressed in ways which exploit pupils’ vulnerability or might lead them to break the law.
- Have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of your school, and maintain high standards in your attendance and punctuality
- Have an understanding of, and always act within, the statutory frameworks which set out your professional duties and responsibilities
The next six sections take you through some good practice tips to help you make the most of your induction.
One: manage your workload
Your workload should always be manageable; however, it is easy to let it get the better of you. To save yourself a lot of stress, it is important to keep on top of your duties and communicate with your line manager or mentor should you be experiencing any difficulties with the amount of work you have.
Be smart when planning lessons and marking work
Lesson planning and marking pupils’ work are often cited as two of the tasks that significantly impact on a teacher’s workload, but there are some easy ways to ensure they remain manageable.
Planning for every individual lesson is time-consuming – it is also unnecessary. Switch to thinking about individual topics instead and plan a sequence of lessons at once to cover the key issues related to a topic. Your colleagues can also be a useful time-saving resource. If there are overlaps in what you’re teaching, you can reduce each other’s workload by planning lessons together and sharing the material – there is no need for duplication.
Regarding marking, homework usually makes up most of the workload but timetabling it to be set and collected on specific days can ensure you have a clear routine and know which days to expect homework from pupils. Assessment is another contributor to the marking workload, something which can be reduced by embracing peer and self-assessment. Although you will still need to check their work, allowing pupils to assess their own and each other’s work can help you to avoid pointless ‘ticking and flicking’. It is also a great way for pupils to consolidate their knowledge of what has been taught.
Make sure to utilise your support staff and other colleagues
Ofsted inspectors will expect you to have strong working relationships with your support staff, so if you have any assigned to your classes, make sure to take the time to get to know their strengths, knowledge and experiences.
Support staff can also be an invaluable resource when it comes to managing your workload. If a lesson plan or resource needs creating, for example, and a member of your support staff has relevant expertise, why not delegate this task to them?
Take a proactive approach to completing paperwork
Your role will require you to complete a lot of paperwork which can soon stack up if left to be dealt with at a later date. It is a good idea to complete paperwork as soon as you get it so that the pile never stacks up. To do this, create a simple filing system and stick to it. With all paperwork, assign it an action so you know what to do first – either urgent or non-urgent. All urgent items should be completed first – this system will help keep your paperwork to a manageable level.
Ensure all paperwork that includes sensitive data is stored and disposed of securely in line with the school’s Records Management Policy. You can store records securely by keeping them in locked cabinets or lockable drawers if they are printed; or for online records, you should speak to the school’s IT technician and they will show you how to encrypt and password protect documents (if you do not already know how).
Two: conduct yourself professionally
It is important to understand that your behaviour and the way that you conduct yourself sets an example. Malpractice can have a significant impact on the school’s reputation, your career and pupils’ wellbeing. Certain behaviours may also put pupils at risk of harm or lead to others questioning your actions.
Treat pupils, parents and colleagues with dignity and respect
You will be expected to treat colleagues, pupils, parents and others with dignity and respect. It is also important that appropriate boundaries are maintained, especially with pupils and their parents.
Contact with pupils and their parents should always remain professional and you should never approach pupils or their parents with the intention of securing a friendship or to pursue or strengthen a relationship – remember that it is an offence for an adult to have a sexual relationship with a child under the age of 18 where that adult is in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if the relationship is consensual. Only your school’s established mechanisms (e.g. the school’s telephone or an official letter) should be used to contact pupils and their parents, and not personal phone numbers, email addresses or social media platforms.
There may be circumstances where physical contact with pupils is necessary, e.g. when administering first aid, assisting with intimate care, or restraining them. You should use your professional judgement when determining what physical contact is appropriate. Where physical contact is deemed necessary, you must do so in accordance with your school’s relevant policies, and by taking the pupil’s wishes and feelings into account. It is possible for your physical contact to be misconstrued by the pupil. To avoid allegations of abuse, you may wish to have another staff member present before initiating physical contact with the pupil. Rough play, tickling or play fights are inappropriate.
Friendships and romantic relationships between staff are usually acceptable, but it is still important to respect your colleagues’ boundaries, e.g. by respecting the fact that they may not be interested in forming a friendship or romantic relationship with you. Discrimination, bullying, harassment and intimidation of any kind will never be tolerated, neither will foul and abusive language.
Safeguarding pupils and following safeguarding rules
One of your most important responsibilities as an NQT is to help safeguard pupils and protect their welfare.
You will be expected to adhere to your school’s Staff Code of Conduct, Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Whistleblowing Policy, which not only outline the safeguarding rules that you are required to follow, but also specify how to identify and act upon any concerns that you may have about a pupil. Confidentiality should never be promised to a pupil, as this could leave them at risk of harm.
Your school should provide you with child protection and safeguarding training during your induction, as well as annual updates to ensure that you understand your obligations. You should also take the time to read part one of the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) guidance document, ‘Keeping children safe in education’, and refresh yourself of this whenever the guidance is updated.
Data protection and confidentiality
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 outline the rules that govern how you manage data.
Generally speaking, personal data should only be processed where there is a lawful basis to do so, it can be stored securely, it will be kept for no longer than is necessary, and it can be securely disposed of when the relevant retention period ends.
Sensitive data about pupils, parents, staff and governors, etc. has special protections and usually requires two lawful bases for you to process it. Sensitive data should generally not be disclosed to other parties without permission, except where the information gives rise to safeguarding concerns about a pupil.
For further information about this, you should consult your school’s Data Protection Policy. Your school’s data protection officer (DPO) may also be a useful source of advice.
Be as professional outside of work as you are in it
Depending on your contract of employment, you may be able to undertake paid or voluntary work outside of school, but only if it does not contravene with the working time regulations, affect your performance, or damage the reputations of yourself, the school or the rest of the school community – make sure to check with your HR manager before engaging in voluntary work or secondary employment.
Similarly, when using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, you should not use either your personal or professional accounts in a way that would bring you, the school or the school community into disrepute.
Three: get clued up on behaviour management
The idea of dealing with challenging behaviour may seem daunting at first, but it is not as difficult to manage as you may believe. By utilising a few useful strategies, challenging behaviour can be nipped in the bud.
Take the time to understand your school’s Behavioural Policy
Every school is legally required to have a Behavioural Policy, so take the time to read and understand your school’s policy, as it will contain important information about your school’s expectations of pupils and their behaviour, and the steps that you should take when tackling any challenging behaviour. If you have not yet been provided with a copy, you can usually find it on your school’s website or by asking a colleague.
Other useful tips for managing behaviour include:
- Making the effort to get to know your pupils, as showing interest creates a level of mutual respect and understanding that pupils will appreciate, which should minimise poor behaviour.
- Creating classroom rules with your pupils, as if they come up with their own, they are more likely to stick to them.
- Keeping your emotions in check, as shouting and snapping at pupils can exacerbate poor behaviour and make the situation worse. If you feel overwhelmed, you should always ask for support.
- Making use of your teaching assistants (TAs), as they often have their own ideas to help defuse any problems.
Four: enhance the privacy of your social media
It is important to maintain professional boundaries with pupils and their parents. As it is inappropriate to contact or befriend pupils and their families using personal social media accounts, there are some steps you should take to enhance the privacy of your personal accounts.
Ensure the necessary privacy controls are applied to your personal accounts
Facebook: to prevent people from looking you up via a known email address or phone number, and to ensure that only people you have as friends can see your content, set your profile to ‘Friends only’. Further information about changing the privacy settings on your Facebook account can be found here.
Twitter: to prevent people from viewing your tweets without permission, set your privacy settings to ‘Protect your Tweets’. You can also change the settings for location information, tagging and allowing people to find you with an email address or phone number, and more. Further information about changing the privacy settings on your Twitter account can be found here.
Instagram: to prevent people that you don’t follow from viewing your content, change your privacy settings to ‘Private account’. You can also turn off comments and hide any that are offensive. Further information about changing the privacy settings on your Instagram account can be found here.
Other ways of enhancing your online privacy include:
- Not providing your home address, phone number, social networking details or email addresses to pupils and their parents.
- Avoiding listing yourself as an employee of the school.
- Changing your name to reduce the chance of detection by pupils – some people use their middle name instead of their surname.
- Using a unique username so that you’re harder to find.
- Ensuring your school email address is only used for school business.
- Not using location-based apps.
If you receive a friend request, harassing messages or even a complaint from pupils or parents, inform the headteacher so that they can take the appropriate action. You must never respond to a request or message.
Further information can be found in your schools Staff Code of Conduct or Social Media Policy. Your school’s e-safety officer (or equivalent) may also be a useful source of advice.
Five: dress to impress
As with your personal conduct, you will be expected to promote a professional and positive image of the school and set a good example. One easy way of doing this is by making careful choices about your dress and appearance.
Make safe and sensible choices
Regarding dress, what is appropriate may differ depending on job role, but it should always be safe, sensible and not cause embarrassment to pupils, parents, colleagues or other stakeholders. You should keep the same considerations in mind both during working hours and when representing the school outside of work, e.g. at school discos.
The majority of schools will expect you to cover up any tattoos and body art as well as restrict piercings to small earrings. If there are religious or cultural reasons for a tattoo or piercing, the school may be able to make an exception, but this will depend on a number of other factors, e.g. health and safety.
Hairstyles and hair colours should also be safe and sensible, although some schools are more flexible than others. Policies about facial hair are generally more relaxed these days, but most schools will still expect any moustache or beard to be kept well-groomed.
High standards of cleanliness and personal hygiene should always be maintained.
Six: keep a healthy work-life balance
As much as your teaching career is important, it is not everything. Happy employees are said to be around 12 percent more productive, so it is equally important for you to take time out for yourself to relax, destress and unwind.
Establish a clear routine and stick to it
Whilst it is nice to change things up now and again, establishing a clear routine for the day-to-day tasks and sticking to it is one of the surest ways you can create a healthy work-life balance.
Your routine should include clear working hours as well as time to enjoy yourself each week; this free time should be scheduled in just as you would schedule in a meeting at work. This does not mean you have to do big and expensive activities like travelling for a weekend break. You could simply arrange to meet a friend or family member for lunch or a coffee at a certain time or take up a weekly hobby like joining a reading or hiking club.
Talk to someone before stress becomes unmanageable
Establishing a healthy-work life balance is also important to managing stress. Although stress is an inevitable part of every career, including yours, there are some easy ways to ensure that it’s dealt with before it starts to take an adverse effect on your personal and professional life.
Firstly, speak up. If workload is getting you down, it is important to tell someone, like your line manager – it is likely that they’ll be able to help you deal with it, e.g. by giving you extra time to complete a task or by passing on some of your workload to another staff member. You should also remember your mentor. Every NQT has a mentor and it is their responsibility to support you through your induction and will be able to alleviate your stress, so make sure to make the most of this opportunity and talk to them.
If you require additional support with any aspect of your NQT work, your best points of call are your line manager or mentor.
We also have a variety of resources which can help you to successfully navigate your NQT induction. These include:
- NQT Starter Pack – this contains a policy, guidance and templates to ensure you are fully supported in your role.
- Staff Code of Conduct – your school will have its own Staff Code of Conduct, but this may give you some ideas about what might be expected of you whilst at work.
- Social Media Policy – your school will have its own Social Media Policy, but this may give you some ideas about how to manage your social media accounts.
- How to Remain Professional: Guidance for Staff – this article contains additional information to help you ensure you are professional whilst at work.
- Keeping Children Safe in Education – 3 Minute Read – this PowerPoint presentation summarises the DfE’s statutory safeguarding guidance and can provide you with additional information about your safeguarding responsibilities.
- DfE (2011) ‘Teachers’ Standards’