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'Headteachers, don't let your NQTs burn out'

Leaders need to take steps to ensure new teachers make the best possible start to their careers, argues Michael Green

School leaders need to take care to prevent new teachers from being overloaded, writes Michael Green

Leaders need to take steps to ensure new teachers make the best possible start to their careers, argues Michael Green

Almost every school will have at least one NQT starting this September, so, as a leader, how much thought have you given to your role in not just making this year the best it can be for them, but also in ensuring that these teachers stay in the profession?

Making sure that you have the right support in place can be tricky, but it is vital. More than a quarter of teachers now leave teaching within three years of qualifying, according to statistics from the Department for Education. Excessive workload is constantly cited as one of the key factors in this decision, and that is something school leaders should be able to control.

So, where can you start? The following themes and questions should help.

1. Consider the workload that’s associated with monitoring, support, induction and appraisals

How do you ensure that any monitoring and support as part of the new teacher’s induction and appraisal process is not overly bureaucratic, or focused on the collection of evidence rather than on the development of the teacher?

Have you considered the workload implications of the induction and appraisal process on the mentor as well as the mentee?

2. Help to guide NQTs to manage their expectations

How do you support your teachers to know their limits and not overcommit, both in terms of teaching commitments and extracurricular responsibilities?

How do you manage NQTs’ expectations of themselves and their teaching? And how is this communicated so there is a shared understanding?

3. Provide support and professional development opportunities for NQTs

How do you ensure that mentors and induction tutors have the time, capacity, expertise, knowledge, experience and personal qualities required to provide support?

How are you building on your NQTs’ "initial" training with further professional development opportunities?

4. Review your current support structures

How do you provide opportunities for teachers – especially NQTs – to tell you what would help them in relation to their workload and wellbeing?

How do you ensure that the support structures that you put in place for NQTs are sustainable and do not place additional strain on other colleagues?

How do you help teachers to collaborate, both within and across schools? What networks are available to them?

5. Support transition points

How do you support NQTs who are making the transition from trainee to qualified teacher, particularly in regard to the potential increase in workload?

What support do you put in place for teachers in the early stages of their career who may have taken on additional responsibilities or have expressed an interest in doing so?

Michael Green is head of strategic partnerships education at the University of Greenwich. He has also been seconded to the Department for Education as an adviser on teacher workload in ITE. He tweets @Michael_s_Green

This article is adapted from a version that appeared in the 7 September issue of Tes. To read the full article, pick up a copy of Tes from your local newsagent, or subscribe to read online.

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