Make my day

You're not the only one under pressure. GTP assessors have a lot to cope with too. So, Gill Williams writes, it's in your interests, to make their job easier

The external assessor's job should be a simple one: to visit you in school, look at your evidence and verify the judgment made by your designated recommending body - the body that says you are qualified to teach - that you meet the required standards.

But there's a good chance your external assessor is turning up cold, having never been to your school or met you or any of the other staff. He has a lot to get his head around in one day.

So make things easy for him. Don't be a passive participant when you get your visit - it's not just his responsibility to make it a successful day, it's yours too.

Don't sit around worrying, then panicking, and then expect the assessor to turn up and do everything by themselves. Both of you want the same thing out of this day - to see you get qualified - so it's up to you to share the responsibility for making sure that the visit is a good one. You have inside knowledge of the school routines, the staff and the site itself.

Don't expect your assessor to absorb this by osmosis: you take responsibility for organising the smooth running of the day.

Be pro-active. Be organised, and don't leave things to chance. There is nothing more stressful than wondering where the external assessor has got to at the start of a lesson - and finding out later that he'd ended up wandering around a completely different building.

Before the day of the visit Let everyone know. Let the school receptionist have details of your final assessment and the name of your assessor.

Clear your timetable Make sure you have got cover sorted out for all your duties, any clubs and after school meetings. If possible, teach only the lessons when you will be observed.

Organise your portfolio Check that you have all the relevant examples of meeting the standards for qualified teacher status. Include a classroom seating plan. Attach one to each of your observation lesson plans for the day. Indicate where specific pupils sit, such as those with special educational needs ot those with English as an additional language. That way the assessor doesn't need to interrupt your lesson.

Have a map of the school site Ask for one in the office or draw one yourself. It'll be really useful for your assessor, especially if you're in a large school. Make sure a room is available. Your assessor needs to be able to work undisturbed, and have meetings with you and other staff. He'll have asked the school to organise this already, but you should check that the room has everything he'll need: a large table, space to spread out your files, no disturbances during the day, heating that works, and tea, coffee and water available.

Do a personnel check Remind people meeting the assessor of the when and where.

On the day: Organise the greeting. Your assessor will let you know when he is due to arrive. Either meet him yourself or, if you're teaching, ask reception staff to escort him to where you will be.

Feed him. Check whether he has made plans for eating. Book a school lunch if he hasn't.

Talk through the arrangements for the day. In the room that you've set aside for him, give your assessor his itinerary for the day: a written sheet of times, people and places where meetings will take place. If there have been changes to the original timetable, make sure he knows what they are and where he should go if there has been a room change.

Introduce your mentor or tutor It looks good if you're the one to make the introductions. It shows your confidence.

Explain your portfolio Show how you've organised your portfolio at the start of the day if you can, so your assessor can work his way through it. Have an A4 sheet or indexing system to show what lives where in your files.

Be available at all times Even when you are not with the external assessor, make sure you let him know how to contact you. If your school is large, give him your mobile phone number - it's easier than sending out a search party.

At the end of the day Remember your manners. As the assessor leaves, remember to say thanks and safe journey. A good finish to the day is as important as a good start and he'll be as exhausted as you are.

Afterwards Give yourself a treat. Make sure you have something special planned for the evening, but don't underestimate how shattered you'll probably feel.

Gill Williams is the deputy director of the graduate and registered teachers programme and an external assessor for the GTP

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