Ticking all the right boxes

23rd December 2005 at 00:00
Be warned: don't forget that among all the Christmas preparations the induction assessment report* has to be written about you. It's very important since the termly reports are the only statutory paperwork that has to be sent to your "appropriate body", that is, the local authority or the Independent Schools Council Teacher Induction Panel.

It should be completed in detail by your headteacher and induction tutor, and taken seriously by you. Unfortunately, there is much misunderstanding concerning the process, as well as some poor practice.

What should you do for the first induction assessment? Well, don't panic and waste time photocopying evidence against each standard, like you did for qualified teacher status. One new teacher asked, "Is there an agreed number of standards under each area you have to have met by the end of the first term?" The answer is a resounding no, but you'll have been setting targets, planning, teaching, assessing, managing pupils, using individual education plans, working with support staff, talking to parents, implementing school policies and taking an active part in your professional development - in fact, everything covered by the qualified teacher status and induction standards.

How well have you been doing in all of these is the key thing. It'll help you reflect on progress so far if you make notes about how you're doing against the standards. Pass this on to your induction tutor because it'll help them write the report.

The really important part of the form is the recommendation by the headteacher. You cannot "fail" your first or second term on induction. The decision that has to be made is only formative: either that your progress indicates that you may or may not be able to meet the standards by the end of the third term.

The teacher on The TES website staff forum who said, "I have failed my first term because I'm not meeting all the standards" has misunderstood.

It's only the judgment at the end of the third term that really matters, but if progress is dodgy, the school, appropriate body and you need to ensure that support and monitoring mechanisms are in place to give you every possible chance. For instance, NQTs can have an advanced skills teacher work with them once a week. It really helps. I've known people turn out to be highly successful teachers, even though, and almost because, they didn't make good progress in their first term.

Experienced induction tutors will have drawn up a timetable of what needs to be done by when so that the appropriate body gets the form by the end of term. Some local authorities set deadlines that are frankly ridiculous and show a misunderstanding of what induction is all about. One wanted them in by December 2. At more than three weeks before the end of term, any form done that early will only be informed by your work in four-fifths of the term. Encourage your school to adhere to the induction guidance, which is that the forms must be finished and signed off by the end of term. It's a good idea to be proactive in setting a date for the assessment meeting if your induction tutor hasn't.

If your headteacher and induction tutor aren't used to completing the induction forms they might get slowed down by the first part of the form because it requires lots of pieces of information, such as the "date of appointment". This is when you started induction as a qualified teacher.

The "NQT's specialism" refers to what you're teaching now: the key stage(s), age group(s) and subject(s). Write a note next to the box if you're not teaching the age group or subject for which you trained, or if you're doing extra subjects.

The "number of days" absence during the assessment period can be a headache. As this is likely to be a bit before the end of term leave this until last and then count the number of days up to the date the form is finished. Remember that absence doesn't just include sickness, but time off for medical appointments, graduation, funerals, compassionate leave, and to care for sick dependents. Keeping track of this is important because if you're absent for 30 or more of your contracted 195 days, induction must be extended.

The headteacher is responsible for ticking the kinds of monitoring and support that have been in place during the term. If they haven't all happened, don't allow them to be ticked.

The report should outline your strengths and areas for further development along with the targets and support planned under the three headings of the standards: professional values and practice; knowledge and understanding; and teaching.

Nothing written should come as a surprise because strengths and areas to develop will have been raised during the observations, the review of progress at half-term and the meetings with your induction tutor. However, one newly qualified teacher said, "I'm getting really confused, because surely I should have been told the things that need developing and supporting by the school and mentors before now." Yes, she should. Even if you find yourself in this position, think positively.

During the assessment meeting suggest additions or revisions to the draft wording so that the form is accurate and fair. Be clear about what you're doing well and what small steps you need to make to address things that need to be better.

Keep a copy of the form in your professional portfolio because it can be used as evidence not only of induction but also for things such as chartered London teacher status (www.clt.ac.uk) that Katie Sprankling, see right, is working towards. The assessment process should leave you clear about your strengths and what to work on - make it happen!

* www.teachernet.gov.ukprofessionaldevelopmentnqtinduction

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