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In fear of a bad reference

I haven't done as well as I'd have liked in my new school. I had to drop a Year 11 class because of discipline problems. My head of department gave me her top set and took on my class instead. But now I feel a lot of pressure to maintain these pupils' high performance. They don't seem to work or learn enough with me, and I fear that this will be reflected in their GCSE results. I am on a one-year contract, and I'm worried that the school might be unhappy with my work at the end of the year. If so, will I get a bad reference or will the school just include the good bits (I'm sure there are many)?

A: You are not on your own in feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility for your students' education. But I get a sense that you are far from being an ineffective teacher, and I'm sure your pupils will achieve well. If you have worries, share them with your pupils - and get some ideas from your induction tutor and other colleagues.

Everyone in your position has concerns - that's only natural if you're an NQT. As for the one-year contract, ask your head whether there is a chance that the job will be made permanent. That is the procedure in many schools.

And if you apply elsewhere, don't worry unduly about references. Managers don't usually write negative comments, and references are usually seen as only part of the full picture.

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