Make induction work for you

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
Isn't teaching wonderful? Aren't you raring to go at the start of each fun-filled day?

Don't worry if you're not. Learning to teach is a gradual process characterised by devastating disasters and spectacular successes. One day will be great and leave you feeling positive and idealistic, but the next will be diabolical.

As time goes on, though, good days outnumber the bad ones, and eventually you'll realise that you're actually enjoying the job.

Well, that's what should happen. Studies show, however, that young teachers feel at their lowest ebb around December and January, before things pick up again as the Spring term progresses. If you're already feeling low and exhausted as you read this, you're not alone.

For most newly qualified teachers, managing behaviour is all-consuming.

Colds and sore throats seem permanent; getting through all the term's activities is exhausting. You need to get help or - I hate to say it - things will get worse.

Becoming a really good teacher is a gradual process, and the first year is the toughest.

Most NQTs feel under tremendous pressure, not least because of the possibility of failing induction and its crazy consequence of never being able to teach again in a state school. Induction is there to help new teachers get off to a good start. Don't see it as a threat or a barrier to get across, but as a great opportunity to make a great deal of progress in a short time for the benefit of your present and future pupils.

Make sure that your induction entitlement is set up right from the word go.

This is what schools in England have to give you if you're on induction:

* a 10 per cent lighter timetable than other class teachers at the school

* a job that doesn't make unreasonable demands

* meetings with a school induction tutor. These should start with the transition point 2 discussion in the career entry and development profile (CEDP)

* objectives to help you meet the induction standards

* an individualised programme of support, monitoring and assessment

* at least one observation of teaching each half-term with written feedback

* half-termly progress reviews

* assessment meeting and report at the end of each term

* procedures to air grievances at school and at local authority levels.

Be warned, though. Many new teachers don't get their full entitlement and feel awkward asking for it. You must insist on this and make a fuss, but in a professional way. It's your duty to develop into the best teacher you can be. The local authority as appropriate body has a duty to ensure that schools comply with the regulations, so contact them if you have no joy with your induction tutor and head.

One fundamental issue to sort out is your job description. The induction circular says that your job shouldn't make "unreasonable demands" on you.

So you shouldn't have to teach exceptionally difficult kids, subjects or age groups that you haven't been trained for or be made to take non-teaching roles without adequate support.

Lots of newly qualified teachers put up with these things, but they shouldn't. Induction is about learning to be a good classroom teacher and that's something that you can do without obstacles or distractions.

Here's what secondary English teacher, lollyx, wrote on The TES online staffroom ( "I should NOT have been quiet when things that I wasn't happy with started emerging. My theory was, 'Well, they've done the timetable now and even though I'm teaching two subjects I didn't qualify in, it's too late, I'd better make the best of it'. BAD idea. I presumed that making a noise would make problems for me. I should have asked to see my mentor and said something along the lines of, 'I'm concerned that my timetable includes so many bottom sets and that I'm teaching a non-specialist subject for more than 50 per cent of the time'."

Headteachers are contractually obliged to give NQTs a 10 per cent lighter timetable than other class teachers in the school but about one-fifth have problems getting it. Your reduced timetable isn't non-contact time so it shouldn't be used for routine planning or marking, but for your professional development. Call it induction time to avoid confusion with free periods, planning and preparation (PPA) or non-contact time.

There will be occasions when staff sickness means that you can't have your induction time, but it should be protected as far as possible and, if missed, should be made up later.

You might want to go on courses in your induction time. Find out whether you're going to be on a programme with other NQTs. Local authorities, colleges and educational consultants often run such courses. Don't just look at those run locally - cast your net wider to find just the right one.

Induction tutors' understanding of what they have to do varies considerably. They can find out everything they need in the induction section of It's important to get off to a good start. If they don't suggest a regular time to meet, you should. Let your induction tutor know that you're keen to be observed. You should have been observed within the first four weeks to reassure you and help nip problems in the bud.

You're on the road to being the best teacher possible.

More information about induction is available on

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