Too challenging by far

14th January 2005 at 00:00
QI had to drop a Year 11 class because of discipline problems. My head of department gave me her top set instead, but they don't seem to be learning or working enough. I fear that will be reflected in their GCSEs. I am on a one-year contract, and am worried they will give me a bad reference.

A Teaching must be one of the few professions where you're expected to achieve the same results as people with 10, 20 or 30 years' experience.

It's the equivalent of asking someone just out of medical school to perform brain surgery!

You're not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility for students'

education, but everything you say makes me think that you're far from being an ineffective teacher. I'm sure the students will achieve well but, if you're worried, share that with them - and get some ideas from your induction tutor and other staff too. Everyone has the same concerns: at least you have the excuse of being a new teacher. It's even scarier when you drive without your L-plates.

As for your being on a one-year contract, start asking the head whether there is any chance it will be made permanent. That's the procedure in many schools. If you do apply elsewhere, don't worry too much about references.

People don't usually write bad things and references are treated as only part of the picture anyway.


QI am an NQT and the only male teacher in a primary school. While training I always received support and respect from pupils and parents. Three months into the job and all has changed. Rumours that I am gay have been circulating. I'm not offended by this - I'm happily married with two children - but my pupils aren't now responding to me. I have approached the head who was kind, but the rumours aren't going away.

A I find this problem odd: you say that you're the only male teacher but the head is a man and there are plenty of gay primary teachers who've never had a problem. Most children don't really know what being gay is and certainly wouldn't stop respecting you for that. They really only see you as a teacher. If rumours about your sexuality are causing a difficulty then the simple solution would be to bring your wife and children into conversation and even round them up for the next school function. Are you sure that the problem isn't rooted in something else, some other reason why people aren't taken with you? Try discussing it with your induction tutor or another member of staff.

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