Induction handbooks

6th October 2000 at 01:00


The recruitment drive for new teachers is hopelessly flawed. Just five minutes' idle browsing through these titles suggests the campaign should be directed at the planet Krypton (although I'm not too sure I would want a man who wore his underpants over his trousers teaching our Year 2).

Both books bring together the lists of competencies expected by the end of the induction year, which, in total, only a comic-strip super-hero could achieve.

Mark O'Hara doesn't deflect blazing meteorites from Earth's path but he has taken on the slightly more difficult task of producing guidance for meeting the standards for initial teacher training and induction. His five main sections cover knowledge and understanding; planning, teaching and class management; monitoring assessment; reporting and accountability; and other professional requirements.

He does not claim the book is more than an introductory text and he has resisted the temptation to cover every aspect in depth.

Teaching 3-8 gives the reader a taster of a huge range of topics. For example, the pages on "Understanding how young children learn", giving brief summaries of the work of the key theorists, is like a page from Encarta without a scroll bar.

The numerous sub-sections give an audit of what the reader will learn, some explanatory text, examples of how competencies can be addressed and suggestions for further reading.

This is just the thing to give initial teacher training students a valuable overview before geting down to the nitty gritty of a first teaching practice. But the depth of support it offers, while ideal for the novice student, is probably inadequate for the newly qualified teacher.

The Effective Induction of Newly Qualified Primary Teachers is much meatier. Sara Bubb's positive, informative and sensitive book is aimed at induction tutors in schools, but deserves a wider audience from NQTs to heads.

The pressures on schools for results have squeezed out the trial-and-error approach of adjustment to full-time teaching. The induction tutor has a major responsibility to make sure the NQT has appropriate support during training and in the induction year.

Sara Bubb outlines the responsibilities of the school and the tutor. She wastes few words and gives many good examples of checklists and ways of developing constructive dialogue.

The highlight for me is the section on lesson observation, which will be invaluable reading for staff who will undertake regular observation of teaching as part of the arrangements for performance management.

I particularly enjoyed the advice that the NQT should see the induction tutor teach before being observed by the tutor. This logic should be extended to Ofsted inspectors. I would be first in line to see Mr Woodhead tackle a receptionYear 1 class and I would want Sara Bubb to lead the debriefing.

The task of being an induction tutor is almost overwhelming. Sara Bubb's book is a no-nonsense and thorough guide to the job and is essential reading for all those keen to give NQTs the support they deserve.

Mike Sullivan is head of Busill Jones primary school, Walsall, West Midlands. See Sarah Bubb's advice column for NQTs, page 31

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