Paul Nials has been senior teacher and induction tutor at Portsmouth Grammar School for a decade, and began the induction of his 25th NQT this month. When he volunteered for the role in 1999, he was keen to transfer his experience gained through mentoring PGCE trainees for the Open University and two local universities to newly qualified teachers joining his own school.
"I find the opportunity to get to know young entrants to the profession extremely rewarding," he says. "It confers a responsibility to offer ongoing training and professional support, and if it is done well it will benefit your school greatly."
Your induction tutor will have several responsibilities, including monitoring, supporting and assessing new teachers joining their school. Responsibilities may vary from school to school - at secondary level, the induction tutor may be the NQT's head of department; at primary level, the role may be filled either by the deputy headteacher or a phase co- ordinator.
He or she will also facilitate the new teacher's transition from being on a 50 per cent timetable, underpinned by a constant level of support, to teaching a 90 per cent timetable in their first job with all the attendant duties that go with it. In order to achieve this, a tailored programme of support is needed - so you can integrate the demands of both the pastoral and academic requirements of the job.
As an NQT, Mr Nials advises you to make the best of this relationship, as it can make or break your first year, as well as benefiting the school in terms of the recruitment and retention of staff. "Careful induction into the working practices of the school is important for the settlement of new staff," he says. "This, coupled with a clear, structured formal induction programme covering all aspects of school routine, delivered at the most appropriate times throughout the first term, has proved to be invaluable."
And while your induction tutor will be formally assessing your progress, it doesn't mean they can't offer you support at the same time. "These requirements can be reconciled by gaining the NQT's trust and allowing an open, professional dialogue to occur from the outset," says Mr Nials.
Susie Buckley, head of music at Balcarras School in Cheltenham, completed her NQT year in 2008 and admits to having had some difficulties adjusting to such close monitoring. "At first, I found it quite irritating to have someone sitting in on my lessons," she says. "You have to remind yourself that they are not there to challenge you, but to help you."
She remembers that getting to know her induction tutor was important for her professional development. "Individual sessions really boosted my confidence about my teaching skills," she says.
Unfortunately, not all tutor-NQT relationships are this successful - problems can range from personality clashes to the tutor having no time to do the job. Certain steps can be taken to remedy this type of situation, says Anna Carlile, lecturer in inclusive education at Goldsmiths College.
"The NQT could try meeting the mentor out of school for dinner or a drink - perhaps the dynamic would change and heshe could discuss the issues in a friendly way," she says. "However, if the relationship is professionally helpful but the problems are to do with personal issues, the new teacher could try to see the relationship as a purely professional experience."
If you feel that the relationship issues are to do with inappropriate or prejudiced behaviour, it is important to talk to somebody about it, advises Anna Carlile. "The NQT can find someone at school whom they trust," she says. "Heshe should ask that person for advice on who in the management team would be the most approachable person with whom to take the issue further."
Most schools will ensure that new teachers are well taken care of, as successful NQT induction links with many other priorities in the school. But if you feel your relationship is creating more worry than benefit, voice your concerns immediately.
Next week: Ups and downs of being a new teacher.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A TUTOR
Your induction tutor should:
- Make sure you understand the roles of those involved in induction, including their entitlements, and your responsibility for taking an active role in your own development.
- Work with you to organise and implement a programme of monitoring, support and assessment that takes forward the action plan identified in the career entry and development profile (CEDP).
- Undertake observations of your teaching and organise follow-up discussions.
- Work with you to review progress against your objectives and the core standards.
- Ensure that you are fully informed about assessment in the induction period.
- Make sure dated records of monitoring and support are kept, and that formative and summative assessment activities are undertaken.
Source: ISC Teacher Induction Panel (www.isc.co.uk).