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Here's my portfolio

NQTs and student teachers should methodically gather evidence of all their work to show potential employers, says Elizabeth Holmes

If you haven't started gathering content for your portfolio, don't leave it another day without giving it some thought. The unwritten expectation that NQTs and trainee teachers will have a current portfolio is rapidly becoming the norm and is central to the notion of continuing professional development.

Miranda Preston, senior lecturer in special educational needs at University College Chichester, sees the long-term value in creating a portfolio as early as possible in your teaching career.

"Portfolios will provide valuable evidence for performance management reviews and for passing the performance threshold," she says.

"There will be an increased emphasis on the importance of continuing professional development on teachers' practice, and on the achievement of their pupils."

Portfolios are excellent tools for interviews, regardless of whether you are applying for your first or subsequent appointment in a new school, or for promotion within your school.

As well as the information presented in your application form, any supporting statement and the interview itself, the portfolio offers actual evidence of the work you have undertaken to date.

Any time you spend developing a portfolio is sure to be time well spent. It is a physical demonstration of your commitment to personal development.

COPY. PHOTOGRAPH. ORGANISE

If you need to creat a portfolio from scratch, these ideas will help:

* Choose an A3 folder (available in art supplies shops or quality stationers). This will allow you to include larger pieces of children's work and display materials, as well as A4 documents relating to planning and evaluation.

* Make sure your folder doesn't have plastic inner pockets. This will stop you having to fumble when retrieving contents to show your interviewees. Aim to organise the contents in the order in which you will want to talk about them, and include only those items that will be specific to the interview you are attending.

* When considering what to include in your portfolio, aim to reflect the breadth of the experience you have. Even if you are a trainee teacher, there will be lesson plans you have taught, evaluations of work and examples of pupils' responses to the work you have set. You may have been involved in creating visual displays or school events, such as music concerts and plays. Get into the habit of photographing or photocopying pupils' work.

* Be sure to include samples of short, medium and long-term planning, as well as examples of your assessment of pupils' work and something that can convey an idea of your teaching philosophy. What are your priorities when teaching? How do those fit in with the current education agenda?

* Use your portfolio to show that you can relate your experience and abilities not only to the needs of the school, but to the wider picture of education in this country.

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