Kirsty Saull, 26, is three days into her first teaching job. She's teaching English, media studies and drama to Years 7-10 at Kingsdown School in Swindon. The summer marked the end of her initial training but Ms Saull, who did her PGCE at Bristol University, is not overly worried about the transition to full-time teaching.
She and her tutors spent several weeks drawing up her career entry and development profile (CEDP) and Ms Saull believes this investment will reap benefits.
"The beginning of the NQT year can seem overwhelming," she says. "It's the first time NQTs will have a tutor group and numerous classes of their own and it could be easy to forget about your own learning and development.
"The profile allows me to reflect on my progress and identify areas in need of development. It gives a point of reference in the first months and is used in close conjunction with my school's induction programme. It provides my induction tutor with a framework in which to identify my strengths, achievements and objectives."
The profile consists of three steps (transition point 1, 2 and 3). It encourages flexibility and helps you review your progress at each crucial point throughout the year. It also helps you prepare for meetings with tutors and locate areas that need attention.
Ms Saull has completed the first part of her profile in close co-operation with her tutors. She details in it what she has found most rewarding during her training, such as building the pupils' confidence and developing good working relationships with colleagues. She also thinks about how she would like to further these interests.
Secondly, she is asked to reflect on her key successes and strengths. "One of my main achievements has been using different forms of assessment and setting `smart' (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) targets for each pupil," she says. "I also used personalised resources to aid individual learning."
The final part of transition point 1 involved naming areas in which she would value further experience. "I would like to experiment more with different teaching styles and lesson formats that specifically incorporate technology in lessons," she says.
Ms Saull will complete the second and third transition points in collaboration with the induction tutor at her school - one at the beginning and one towards the end of the induction period. This will allow her to consider her progress and aspirations for continuing professional growth.
It is important to give a lot of thought to your development needs, says Kate Aspin, senior lecturer in education at Huddersfield University. "Keep targets `smart' and clearly focused," she says. "Share your CEDP with your mentor and see it as a working document. Keep it to hand somewhere where it will remain in your thoughts."
You may need to consider background information about your school and adjust to its working practices beforehand. "There may be differences in the emphasis placed on it for NQTs between schools," says Peter Eaton, a spokesman for the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). "This is because it encourages flexibility. It should be used as part of - and to support - other professional development and shouldn't be seen as an isolated resource."
The CEDP is not just about rigorous self-assessment. According to the TDA, it allows you to think about your interests and how to pursue them. "It can help shape your plans," says Kate Aspin. "It gives you a flow chart for future development."
What is it?
- The career entry and development profile is a working resource available online that suggests questions relating to achievements, strengths and weaknesses.
- It consists of three steps (transition point 1, 2 and 3). These will be completed at the end of initial teacher training and at the beginning and end of your induction period.
- It helps you to review your progress and prepare for meetings with tutors.
- It allows you to get into the good habit of recording developments and targeting areas for improvements.
- The TDA provides useful sample formats (www.tda.gov.uk).
A chance to find their feet
In Scotland, since 2002, every new teacher (or "probationer") has been guaranteed a place in school for a year to allow them to gain full registration without having to cope with the vagaries of supply work.
It is each probationer's responsibility to ensure that their initial teacher education profile is taken to the school where their induction year is to be taken. The profile contains information about their strengths and weaknesses and includes detailed comments from their university tutor.
The student also has a section to complete about their next steps, in which they reflect on personal targets for the induction year. The aim is that the profile will act as a bridge between the theory learnt in university and the practical experience gained in the first year of teaching.
During the probationary year, the profile will be used by the probationer's mentor to chart progress and set new goals.