First Step: Assessment - Get on the right track
Sapna Choudrie, a new teacher at Whitehall Primary School in Bristol, made sure her first formal assessment went well by monitoring her performance and addressing concerns in the time leading up to it.
"I'm quite a proactive person, so I knew what I had to work on from my action plan. I also knew what progress I had made by regular conversations with other staff members," she says.
Knowing that one of her targets was to improve her behaviour management skills, she liaised with external agencies as well as her special educational needs co-ordinator for support and asked them to comment on her progress. This provided her with something to take to her assessment meeting as proof that she had addressed the concerns. "I got the opportunity to discuss my progress and the additional steps I had taken to make sure I pass my induction," Ms Choudrie says.
New induction guidance and regulations that came into force in September 2008 say that newly qualified teachers (NQTs) should have three formal assessment meetings with their induction tutor or headteacher during the induction period.
According to the Training and Development Agency, about two-thirds of NQTs are, like Ms Choudrie, approaching the second assessment, likely to take place at the end of the spring term in April.
Being the penultimate assessment, it's important that new teachers demonstrate that they are on track to meet the core standards by the time the final assessment in the summer comes around.
The meetings provide the opportunity to identify areas where further support might be needed to ensure the 41 core standards, covering skills, attributes and knowledge and understanding, are met by the end of the induction period.
It's a good idea to prepare for the meetings by producing a self assessment to take along, advises Sara Bubb, a specialist in new teacher induction at the Institute of Education and NQT forum expert for The TES. She suggests the report should include the three core standards headings (as above) or five themes: skills; developing practice; working within the law; developing professional and constructive relationships with pupils, parents and colleagues; and professional knowledge and understanding.
Ms Choudrie agrees that the key to a successful assessment is to know what to expect beforehand: "I found the assessment meeting useful in terms of confirming what standards I've met so far and what I should focus on for the next assessment. And it was interesting to read what my induction tutor said about me.
"But you shouldn't really have to wait until your assessment to find out if you're failing. You should be talking regularly to your tutor to find that out." She adds: "My advice is to be proactive, know what you want, when you want to achieve it and why you want to achieve it and discuss with your tutor how you can achieve it."
Each assessment should be informed by written reports from at least two lesson observations and two progress review meetings. Further sources of evidence could include lesson plans, records and evaluations; pupils' assessment records such as test results; information about discussions with others, such as colleagues and parents; and the NQT's record of professional development. Induction tutors may want to collect more evidence in areas where there are concerns.
An assessment form should be completed and signed by the induction tutor or head recording what is covered in the meeting. Model assessment forms are available to download from www.teachernet.gov.uk. The NQT should be invited to make comments on the form and sign it before it is sent to the appropriate body - either the local authority or the Independent Schools Council teacher induction panel - within 10 working days of the assessment meeting.
The assessment may suggest areas for improvement, or indicate where NQTs might need further support. As well as those that have been involved in the assessment, local authority induction co-ordinators should be on hand to discuss any problems and identify support strategies. Other NQTs are also a good source for advice.
The third assessment meeting, likely to be held in July, will form the basis of the head's recommendation to the appropriate body on whether the NQT has passed their induction.
The challenge for new teachers following their second assessment will therefore be to establish clear objectives for the summer term and to cover the core standards they have not yet achieved, as well as continuing to demonstrate those they already have.
WHAT TO THINK ABOUT THIS WEEK
- Check progress against the core standards now, ahead of the assessment meeting.
- Produce a self assessment to take to the assessment meeting.
- Make sure the resulting report is fair.
- Don't panic if the next assessment doesn't go well. Identify areas to work on and do so before the final assessment.
- The headteacher should observe the NQT before the final assessment as it will be their recommendation that is sent to the appropriate body.
- Guidance on the assessment process is covered in the DCSF statutory induction guidance, which can be downloaded from www.teachernet.gov.uk.