Tips for starting a new school

Tes Editorial

It’s not only the kids who have tummy full of butterflies on the first day of the school. As a teacher, the first day at a new school can be a daunting prospect. Whether you’re a fresh-faced NQT or an experienced pro, stepping into a new classroom can leave you a little bit nervous.

With having to learn new policies, new processes, new classes and new staff room politics, there’s a lot to take in. To make sure you get September off to the perfect start, we asked the experts for their tips for any new starters.


Chris Powell, ITT lead at Parmiter's School, Hertfordshire, recommends:

  • Make friends with the admin staff, caretakers and photocopying staff – these people will make your life much easier if they like you!
  • Attend the first social event of the year.
  • Make sure you know the reward and sanction systems inside out – the students certainly will!
  • Have a seating plan sorted for each of your classes. Run it by someone else in your department who may be able to warn you over any dangerous combinations of students.
  • Start strict and ease off during the year – it is impossible to do the opposite.
  • Get on top of your marking early and remember that not all homework has to be words written on paper. Be clever about the homework you set in order to reduce your marking load. 

Tracey Lawrence, head of school at Danemill Primary School, Leicestershire, says:

  • Learn names! This will start relationships for you, which will be hugely supportive in a new school.
  • Normally, an effective staff handbook will support you with the new systems and process, but make it your business to find out what's specific to your new school. If in doubt, ask!
  • Social media is a fickle beast, so it is integral to know the policy through and through. You can end up embroiled in a situation that escalates before you know it if you are unsure of what is acceptable to your school or trust. 
  • Collaboration is vital to continual improvement and support. Everybody on your school staff and within your family of schools will have individual strengths as will you and this will provide you with that support throughout your NQT year and beyond. 

We asked Tes Jobs Twitter users what advice they had for someone starting at a new school, too:



Appreciate those who help you go into the room & teach such as cleaners, caretakers, admin staff.Also identify those you can be honest with

— alison laycock (@alisonlaycock23) July 21, 2017




Settling in to a new school takes time, you'll feel like a NQT! Know the rules & expectations for lessons so students can't catch you out!☺️

— Gem Williams (@MissGWilliams) July 21, 2017




Spend the first few weeks in the staffroom listening rather than talking.

— Mrs Bagxander (@mrsbagxander) July 20, 2017




Avoid using the phrase, "in my last school..." and get hold of a student planner and read the key information in it.

— David Turrell (@TurrellDavid) July 20, 2017




Make friends with the caretaker, cleaners and dinner ladies first.

— Bill Gibbon (@billgibbon) July 20, 2017




Oh, thank you. Also, print out a site map. And write down the photocopier code, and learn the best way to the nearest toilet.

— McGinty (@fizzixteach) July 20, 2017