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Judgment day looms on your first term

induction assessments: Make sure your report is a fair and accurate one

I know you're on your knees with exhaustion and that your throat aches from practising carols, but don't forget your end-of-term induction assessment report*. It's really important since it is the only statutory paperwork that has to be sent to your appropriate body - the local authority or the Independent Schools Council Teacher Induction Panel .

What should you do for your first induction assessment at the end of yourt first term? Well, definitely don't panic and waste time photocopying evidence. You'll have been setting targets, planning, teaching, assessing, managing pupils, using individual education plans, working with support staff, talking to parents, implementing school policies and taking an active part in your professional development - in fact, everything covered by the qualified teachers status and induction standards. Having said that, it'll help your induction tutor write the report if you make notes about how you're doing against the standards.

Experienced tutors will have drawn up a timetable of what needs to be done in time for the appropriate body to receive the form by the end of term.

Some local authorities set deadlines that are frankly ridiculous and show a misunderstanding of what induction is all about. One wants them in by today. At more than three weeks before the end of term, any form done that early will only be informed by your work in four-fifths of the term! Encourage your school to stick to the induction guidance, which is that the forms must be finished and signed off by the end of term. The weeks before the end of term get very frenetic and people get ill. Since this can be predicted, it's a good idea to be proactive in setting a date for the assessment meeting if your induction tutor hasn't already done so.

The first part of the form requires lots of information such as the school's Department for Education and Skills number and your teacher reference number, which can hold things up if you need to hunt them down.

Other sections that cause confusion are the date of appointment, which is when you started induction as a qualified teacher, and your specialism, which refers to what you're teaching now: the key stage(s), age group(s) and subject(s). Write a note next to the box if you're not teaching the age group or subject for which you trained, or if you're doing extra subjects.

The number of days absence during the assessment period can be a headache.

As this is likely to be a bit before the end of term, leave this until last and then count the number of days up to the date the form is finished.

Remember that absence doesn't just include sickness but time off for medical appointments, graduation, funerals, compassionate leave and looking after sick dependants. Keeping track of this is important because if you're absent for 30 or more of your contracted 195 days, your induction must be extended.

The really important bit of the form is the recommendation: this must adjudge whether your progress indicates that you will meet the standards by the end of the third term. You can't fail your first or second term; it's only the judgment at the end of the third term that really matters, but if your progress is dodgy, the school, appropriate body and you need to ensure that support and monitoring mechanisms are in place to give you every possible chance. For instance, NQTs can have an advanced skills teacher work with them once a week - it really helps!

The report should outline your strengths and areas for further development along with the targets and support planned under the three headings of the standards: professional values and practice; knowledge and understanding; and teaching. Think positively: talk to your induction tutor about what you're doing well and what small steps you need to make to address things that need to improve. During the assessment meeting, it's a good idea to suggest additions or revisions to the draft wording so that the form is accurate and fair.

The headteacher is responsible for ticking the kinds of monitoring and support that have been given during the term: the 10 per cent reduced timetable; your career entry and development profile discussed; a plan of support; discussions with your induction tutor to set targets and review progress; observations of your teaching every half term; observations by you of other teachers; and an assessment meeting. If they haven't all happened, don't allow them to be ticked - that way, your appropriate body know if you're not getting your entitlement. Write a carefully worded comment in the box when you sign the form.

Keep a copy in your professional portfolio because it can be evidence, not only of induction but also for things such as Chartered London Teacher status** if applicable. Your assessment should leave you clear about your strengths and what to work on - make it happen!

*The appropriate body should send the form to your head. It can be found at **Chartered London Teachers

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