Fail to prepare prepare to fail

30th March 2007 at 01:00
Never underestimate the importance of assessments, says Sara Bubb. They can help you progress or stop you in your tracks

If you're on induction, make sure your assessment form is completed and sent off before the end of term. This second assessment is really important. It's the last time someone will write about your performance in depth because the third assessment form only needs signatures if you meet the standards.

There is no end-of-induction-year report in England and Wales, which is a shame. Scotland has a better system: new teachers there have written reports at the end of terms one and three, and a brief one in term two.

You do know what happens if you fail induction, don't you? Even though the rule has been around since 1999, there are still lots of sharp intakes of breath when I remind people that the tiny number who fail induction in England are never allowed to teach in maintained schools or non-maintained special schools again. That's it.

You can't retake induction, and appeals to the General Teaching Council (GTC) rely on you proving that your school did not monitor, support and assess you correctly. And they take ages. This appalling consequence of not doing well in your first year seems even more draconian when you see what happens to teachers who've done really awful things and been up against disciplinary panels at the GTC. By and large, the worst that happens to them is that they're suspended for some years - not for ever.

Contrary to popular opinion, you can't pass or fail either of the first two terms of induction. Your headteacher has to say either that your progress so far indicates you will or won't "be able to meet the requirements for the satisfactory completion of the induction period".

This is still a warning, in that it is the decision at the end of the year that matters. But while it is not the end of the world to not have made satisfactory prog-ress in the first term, if that judgment was made you have every reason to panic. It does not bode well.

In theory, you should be able to pull things together in the remaining third term and your school should move heaven and Earth to help you do so.

In practice, problems are very hard to turn around. If you are in this position, get advice, especially from your union.

You might want to leave the school and complete your third term at another time and place. With lessons learned, a fresh start may be just what you need Sara Bubb is an education consultant who specialises in induction.

She also regularly answers questions on our forums at

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