Survival kit for standards challenge

30th March 2001 at 01:00
A NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS' MANUAL - How to Meet the Induction Standards. By Sara Bubb. David Fulton pound;15 paperback

It's even better than a 50-blade Swiss Army knife and a first aid box rolled into one. Believe me, this book is going to be even more important to you than your mobile phone. It's packed with good practical advice gleaned by Sara Bubb, not only from her own teaching experience but also from years of working with NQTs and students.

It's a grizzly fact of life that, for those taking up their first teaching job in a school in England, the induction period is a matter of survive or perish. Failure to make the grade on the ten wide-ranging standards will result in a ban from working as a teacher in a maintained school or a non-maintained special school. The opportunities for an extension of time to meet the standards are very slim, so the stakes are high.

Sara Bubb's book focuses on helping NQTs meet the standards. This is achieved in a simple, effective, no-words-wasted style. The chapters lead systematically through the statutory induction arrangements - the induction standards, ways in which NQTs can demonstrate the standards for assessment, reporting and other professional requirements. This includes good advice on how to handle observed teaching sessions and being assessed. Teaching management is dominated by objectives, and she encourages NQTs to get into the habit of working with objectives.

The text is peppered with hecklists, activities and some odd little case studies that didn't seem to me to relate fully to the text. This is not really a cover-to-cover read, but a workbook for dipping into, scribbling notes in the margin and filling with Post-its. Sara Bubb won't mind, as she is the aunty that you always wished you had - a fairy godmother and the patron saint of NQTs.

One of the many endearing features of the writing in her books, TES Friday column and TES website is the recognition that teachers are real people with normal needs. The introductory chapter contains a wonderfully useful section on "looking after yourself", with an encouragement to eat bananas instead of chocolate bars and to check your hair regularly for head lice.

What of the opposition? If you are penniless, you might be tempted by a free copy of the 43-page DfEE guidance document The Induction Period for Newly Qualified Teachers. It's lurking out there on the web just waiting for you to click on the print button. Reading it, however, is as nourishing as chewing polystyrene, and so depressing that it may well guide you to a career stacking shelves in a supermarket. Download it if you must, but also increase your student loan so you can buy a copy of A Newly Qualified Teachers' Manual. It's an essential map to guide you safely through the perils of the first year of teaching.

Mike Sullivan is an education consultant and a former primary head, based in the West Midlands

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