Your first year is a bridge from teacher training to practice. It gives you rights and responsibilities. Sara Bubb explains how to make the most of them
You've got qualified teacher status? Excellent. Now comes the induction period, which is, in effect, a year of on-the-job training. If you don't complete this successfully the penalty is severe: you will not be allowed to teach in a maintained school or non-maintained special school. This is scary, but be reassured that the number of people failing the first year of induction is extremely small.
Many people are still not sure what statutory induction involves. This makes it hard for NQTs to know whether they are being treated fairly or not. Key publications to refer to are "Circular 00902000 The Induction Period for Newly Qualified Teachers" (tel 0845 602 2260 for a copy), the "Career Entry Profile", and the TTA "Supporting Induction" booklets (tel 0845 606 0323 for copies).
To be able to teach in England, all teachers who qualified after May 1999 have to complete an induction period of a school year. This ensures that induction is "a bridge from initial teacher training to effective professional practice" (circular 00902000).
The expectation is that supporting people well at the start of their career will "make a real and sustained contribution to school improvement and to raising classroom standards".
For NQTs, statutory induction is both a carrot and a stick. Although there is a hurdle to get over, it gives protection, a reduced timetable and a helpful framework of monitoring, support and assessment.
No longer is a successful first year of teaching a matter of luck and favours. It is an entitlement that has been planned, funded and which headteachers are required by law to give. Not getting it will certainly be grounds for appeal.
Every NQT should have:
* a job that does not make unreasonable demands
* an induction tutor who has the necessary skills, expertise and knowledge to support, monitor and assess
* meetings with the induction tutor
* objectives set and reviewed half-termly to help you meet the standards for the induction period
* a 10 per cent timetable reduction
* a planned programme of how to spend that time
* at least one observation of your teaching each half-term, with feedback assessment meetings to review progress
* an end-of-term assessment report
* procedures for airing grievances at school and LEA level
This provision should enable NQTs to meet the QTS and induction standards by the end of the year. Although these sound like a description of Superteacher, they are achievable.
Most NQTs are happy with their induction provision. There are, however, a significant number who, through no fault of their own, are in schools where all is not as it should be. Complaining is always uncomfortable, and NQTs are in a tricky situation because the headteacher recommends whether they pass or fail. As one NQT said: "It is very difficult to discuss problems. I want to pass my induction year and, if this means keeping my head down and mouth shut, that's what I'll do.
"The alternative is to highlight problems and then have to face awkward times with my induction tutor or head, with the implications that might have on whether they pss or fail me."
Problems should be remedied, not least because the stakes are so high. You will suffer if your induction provision is inadequate and will never have this level of support again. Remember that thousands of children will be better taught if you are helped to teach more effectively.
If school grievance procedures do not work, every LEA has a "named person" that you can approach. Use them.
Sara Bubb runs induction courses at various venues and at the London Institute of Education, where she teaches PGCE students. She is the author of The Effective Induction of Newly Qualified Primary Teachers: An Induction Tutor's Handbook. Her latest book, A Newly Qualified Teacher's Manual, will be published next year.
THE STANDARDS NQTs MUST REACH
In order to meet the induction standards, the NQT should demonstrate that he or she:
a sets clear targets for improvement of pupils' achievement, monitors pupils' progress towards those targets and uses appropriate teaching strategies in the light of this, including, where appropriate, in relation to literacy, numeracy and other school targets
b plans effectively to ensure pupils have the opportunity to meet their potential, notwithstanding differences of race and gender, and taking account of the needs of pupils who are underachieving; very able; not yet fluent in English; making use of relevant information and specialist help where available;
c secures a good standard of pupil behaviour in the classroom through establishing appropriate rules and high expectations of discipline . . . acting to pre-empt and deal with inappropriate behaviour . . .
d plans effectively, where applicable, to meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs and, in collaboration with the Senco, makes an appropriate contribution to the preparation, implementation, monitoring and review of individual education plans
e takes account of ethnic and cultural diversity to enrich the curriculum and raise achievement
f recognises the level that a pupil is achieving and makes accurate assessments, independently, against attainment targets, where applicable, and performance levels associated with other tests or qualifications relevant to the subject(s) or phase(s) taught
g liaises effectively with pupils' parentscarers through informative oral and written reports on pupils' progress and achievements, discussing appropriate targets, and encouraging them to support their children's learning, behaviour and progress
h where applicable, deploys support staff and other adults effectively in the classroom, involving them, where appropriate, in the planning and management of pupils' learning;
i takes responsibility for implementing school policies and practices, including those dealing with bullying and racial harassment
j takes responsibility for their own professional development, setting objectives for improvements, and taking action to keep up-to-date with research and developments in pedagogy and in the subject(s) they teach.
k To complete induction successfully, an NQT trained in England, qualifying on or after May 1 2000 and before May 2001, must have passed the national test for teacher training candidates in numeracy. Candidates have five opportunities to pass the test.