Where do I start?

21st March 2003 at 00:00
My head of department says I can't go on courses in my first year, but I thought schools were given money for each NQT. My department head spent the previous NQT's money on equipment for the department. Is he allowed to do this? How can I make sure the money is spent on me?

Spending induction funding on equipment is tantamount to fraud. Schools are allocated pound;1,000 per term per NQT. Until April, the money is given from the LEA in an earmarked part of the standards fund. It should be used "to support the induction of NQTs". The Department for Education and Skills is redrafting the induction guide, and will clarify what the funding can be spent on. This will be essential because, under the new Standards Fund arrangements, there's no earmarked category for induction. The rhetoric is that it will provide "greater flexibility for schools and local authorities in the use of those resources". It seems mad to me - it leaves NQTs even more vulnerable to being victims of scams. However, the DfES recommends that "a figure of about pound;1,000 per NQT per term should be regarded as an appropriate level of funding for induction purposes".

Induction money will still be somewhere in the standards fund, but most LEAs are likely to divide it between schools on the basis of size and free school meals. Because induction is a small part of the standards fund, it's unlikely that the number of NQTs in a school will feature in the equation.

So a large school with no NQTs could get a big slice of the pie while a small school with lots of NQTs gets a crumb.

Anyway, there is money for your induction, although pound;1,000 doesn't go far. Identify what objectives you need to work on to meet the standards, then see what professional development will help you. Courses can be effective, but they're expensive once you include cover costs. Meeting or observing colleagues may seem more cost-effective - or the costs aren't so apparent. Someone (probably your deputy or induction tutor) holds the budget and should be able to tell you how the money is spent. It's absurd to say that NQTs can't go on courses - thousands do. Most attend LEA or university-run induction programmes, as well as courses on specific issues.

If you're unhappy with your induction provision, speak to the person at the LEA responsible. If the school can't account for and justify how the funding is spent, the LEA should take the matter up with your head.

Are you a student or NQT? Email your questions to susan.young@newsint.co.uk. Sara Bubb's A Newly Qualified Teacher's Manual: how to meet the induction standards is published by David Fulton, pound;16

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