As induction periods come to an end, soon-to-be-qualified teachers will be getting ready to undergo the process in September. Some, however, are getting the opportunity to bridge the gap and start early by taking part in introductory placements.
Those set to start their induction at Sunbury Manor School in Surrey are encouraged by the school to work there in the summer term and over the summer in preparation for their formal start. Headteacher Louise Duncan explains: "We have learnt that it is not a good idea to bring NQTs in early as cover, but to let them find their feet, introduce them to the raft of systems and get them involved in the mass of end-of-term events."
The experience stands them in good stead for the year, she adds. "Being part of sports day and the end-of-term celebrations gives them a great opportunity to get to know pupils in a different setting before the new academic year starts. Also, appointing and paying NQTs over the summer reduces the need for them to take summer work, so we are more likely to get them fresh and ready for the hard slog of the autumn term."
Hayley Batten, an English teacher, has just finished her induction year at Sunbury Manor, having spent three weeks there beforehand. "There were a couple of NQTs and it was nice to have that support system - you don't feel as if you're the only one in that situation. The introduction period is a good chance for the NQTs to get to know each other," she says.
It was also a great way to get to know the department she was going to work in, she adds: "I found out how the department works, what scheme of work it follows and who I would be teaching. I observed lessons taught by experienced teachers and even taught some classes myself, so I wasn't seen as a new teacher when I started my induction."
She found meeting her induction mentor particularly useful and even took part in the school's new library project. "It was great to be able to start making a mark on the school at that stage. It calmed my nerves about starting in September," she adds.
The Training and Development Agency for Schools says pre-induction events such as these are increasing in popularity, but tend only to be offered by large secondary schools.
Arthur Terry School in Birmingham offers an induction fortnight in July. According to Diane Read, assistant headteacher and senior mentor, the school usually takes on about 10 NQTs each year. "This year's NQTs are doing really well and I am certain the two-week induction sets them up for the year," she says.
Alex Davidson, an ICT teacher at Arthur Terry, agrees. "The two weeks I spent at the school last year were packed with activities, challenges and opportunities to meet others. Previous NQTs shared their experiences and advice, we got tours of the school, met other staff and took part in presentations and activities. Being able to go into the summer holidays knowing exactly what's expected, armed with all the data and information you need and knowing what needs to be done allows you to hit the ground running in the first week of term."
Joya Pal is set to start as an NQT science teacher at Sunbury Manor in September and is spending time at the school before it breaks up for summer. "It's really reassuring. I got to look at the scheme of work the science department follows. It's introducing triple science in September and the exam board the school uses is different from what I'm used to. After spending a few days at the school I now feel much better prepared for September."
She also got to meet the Year 7 form group she will be taking when she starts. But the most important benefit, she says, has been meeting colleagues. "Speaking to people in your department is particularly useful for a science teacher. It's important to meet the technicians: they can save your life."
Easing NQT nerves
- Spending time at your school before your induction starts gives you a chance to get to know how your department works.
- It provides an opportunity to meet fellow NQTs, other colleagues and pupils.
- Finding out about school policies and schemes of work and observing other teachers can help you to prepare and to feel more confident when you start in September.