Can I do NQT induction in an independent school?
This is a question that crops up regularly, and the short answer is that yes, you can do NQT induction in most independent schools.
So do consider beginning your teaching career by doing your induction in an independent school. At the end of the year (assuming you complete it successfully), you have the same status as NQTs who worked in state schools, and can work in either sector
But you need to note a few things.
Not all schools offer induction
Firstly, although most independent schools offer induction, a few do not. In order to offer it, they need to teach the National Curriculum (or the National Curriculum Plus, which most do), and be registered either with IStip or a local authority, to oversee the process and give the final accreditation. Most go for IStip. Over 1,200 NQTs each year do their induction via IStip – the Independent Schools Teacher Induction panel.
For more information check out the IStip website.
So it’s essential to find out before you even apply. If it isn’t mentioned in the job advertisement or further details, send them a quick polite email enquiring if they offer NQT induction.
If they don’t, then I suggest that you don’t apply, because even if they say that they are going to start it, to be honest, I’d rather not be there in their first year as they possibly bumble a bit through the procedures.
I know a school where the inexperienced NQT mentor failed to register the NQTs properly, and so their first term didn’t count and they had to do a fourth term.
Although in theory you can, since a recent change of policy, do your NQT induction in a very small number of British schools abroad, you would again need to be cautious as they haven’t yet built up much – or any – experience in this area.
Most reputable schools abroad ask for at least two years UK experience before they will consider you anyway, because they realise that dealing with the NQT year is a big enough load without having to adjust to a new culture, new climate, as well. The SCE schools (Army schools, in shorthand), I discount from this advice as they have always been allowed to do NQT induction.
Your University tutor and induction in an independent school
There have been posts on the TES forums from both NQTs and their mentors commenting on induction years in the independent sector; I’ll give you some of the highlights. The first post responds to a point that I made, and repeat now: your tutor at university is likely to be very prejudiced against you doing this, and is likely to try and dissuade you. Here’s what the poster commented:
This is very true. I did my NQT year in an independent school and the tutors were very prejudiced about it! They made massive assumptions about what the school would be like and what my reasons were for doing it.
I had friends on courses at other universities who were actually told by their tutors that they couldn't do induction in an independent school and that if they worked at an independent school they would never teach at a state school again.
I did my NQT year in an indie school then later moved back to state, so these are clearly lies. Best of luck to you!
Here’s another NQT:
I am currently doing my NQT induction in an indy prep school, through ISTIP. It is early days, but so far they have been incredibly supportive and we are following all the usual steps of setting targets, weekly meetings, observations of my teaching, me observing others teach. I must admit I think I would find it hard to move back to the state sector though, you get used to small classes and good behaviour very quickly, so be prepared for this if you do go for it.
Of course every school is different, but I have found the staff are less stressed than in the state schools I trained in, so they have more time and willingness to help you with things you are unsure on. I have never once felt like a pain asking for help, but did quite a bit on my state school placements.
And another story:
EB teaches at a large independent school in London which is part of a group of schools. He enjoyed his teaching experiences in state schools when he did his PGCE at the University of London's Institute of Education, but feels he's made a great decision to start his career in the independent sector. He loves the status his subject has in the school and gets on well with the students he teaches and his colleagues. He gets paid on the group’s pay scale, which is slightly more than he'd get in the maintained sector.
People had warned him that induction in an independent school might not be very well organised but he's found the opposite. He's one of several people undergoing induction at the school and they get a really great deal. EB was appointed from 1 July so he could get to know the school, staff and systems before September, and didn't have to take a summer job to survive until his first pay cheque. In fact, the school paid for him to go on a three-week university course in Germany over the summer, to refresh his language skills.
As well as the usual NQT entitlement, such as the 10 per cent reduced timetable (on top of the 20% PPA all teachers get in this school, rather than the 10% in state schools), he has a professional mentor and monitoring and support from a deputy head who used to be a teacher educator at a university. The training that he gets is tailored to his needs: for instance, there isn't much on behaviour management because it's not a big issue in the classes he teaches.
These are all very positive stories, but that’s all I’ve been able to find. There are doubtless a few horror stories too, but I’ve not come across them, apart from the one about the NQTs not being properly registered for their first term.
The view of the NQT induction mentors in independent schools
The comments of independent school mentors show that they are very keen to support their NQTs, and possibly find it less of a strain than do their colleagues in the maintained sector, if they have a more generous time allowance to do it.
You can expect the support to be just the same in the Independent Sector as in the State Sector for induction. I currently have an NQT in my Department, and I have another next year. Our Director of Staff Development constantly reminds us that we could be inspected on this very issue at any time, so she runs a very tight ship and we are expected to support out NQTs very fully.
I would be extremely surprised if any Independent School running an NQT programme would be anything other than hot on this. We very much enjoy taking on NQTs.
Another induction tutor in an independent school gives a similar picture:
I teach in an Independent School and we offer a thorough NQT Induction Programme in line with IStip. As Induction Tutor, I attend regular training (as do the HoDs who act as Subject Mentors each year). Last year we had 3 NQTs, this year we have 3 more. It is such a benefit to the school to have NQTs on-board and we wouldn't do anything less than support them fully.
Please be assured that the NQT year in an Independent School is every bit as rigorous, supportive and well planned as any equivalent in the maintained sector. But not all Independents offer an NQT programme, so check that out carefully for individual schools to which you apply.
I said earlier on that the successful completion of the induction year in an independent school gives you the right to work in a state or independent school, and a poster added that she had been able to move back to the maintained school. I will add a comment to the effect that my experience as Head of a large independent school has also been that: those teachers who wanted to move to a state school managed to do so with no problems.
Most didn’t want to move back to the state sector, however!
On the other hand
On the other side, I must say that some maintained schools may well feel that someone used to a different type of pupil (one who is more highly disciplined in the classroom because the parents support high levels of discipline, and often more motivated), could well find it difficult to have an appropriate level of classroom management with a different, more challenging, type of pupil.
And they would probably be correct. Therefore some maintained schools may well reject an application from someone used only to the independent sector.
As a final note, as the NQT induction year is the same in a maintained or independent school, you can transfer between the sectors part way through the year, if necessary. I have had it happen in my school. Here’s a comment about this:
I'm a NQT Induction tutor at an independent senior school and currently have an NQT who did the first part of her NQT period at a state school. Make sure you have copies of all your reports from your current school, lesson observations etc. You will need to be registered with IStip - by Sept 18th this year, so do be pro-active in making sure this gets done. You can do quite a bit of this yourself; I advise you to check out the IStip website in advance. They will need copies of your reports from the state sector.
NB - as you have already completed part of your induction period, your new school will not have to pay the full fee to IStip - try to ensure that you pass this information on to your new induction tutor!
NB whichever route you take for your induction, maintained or independent, you need to be in a union.
Join a Union. Yes, now!
Here are other articles to read:
An overview of the Independent sector
Independent Sector FAQs
How much will I earn in the independent sector?
Moving from state to independent
Teachers talk about what it's like working in one Indy School