Where do I start?

9th May 2003 at 01:00
Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

For my induction year I've accepted a job teaching religious education in a small secondary school. But I'm the only RE teacher; there isn't even a head of department. How am I supposed to cope? I'm terrified.

I can understand why you feel worried, but I'm sure they wouldn't have given you the job if they didn't think you'd do it splendidly. To put your mind at rest, get into the school now so that you feel ready for September and get off to a good start. Ask if you can do some supply, or an "induction to the school" week. Even if they can't pay you, it's essential that you go in, because you need to know where everything is and to speak to the person you're taking over from. You need to get to grips with the curriculum, so find out how detailed the schemes of work are - some are sketchy and others are as detailed as a lesson plan. You don't have a national curriculum as with other subjects.

What exam board does the school use and what is the syllabus? Look at resources. Are there enough to teach all aspects of the units to all the pupils?

Ask about your timetable. If you're the only RE teacher it could be very heavy, but you need to insist that you're only teaching 90 per cent of what someone in, say, their second year is. You should also ask for time to act as head of department. The person drawing up the timetable may not realise you're newly qualified, so remind the school in writing. You'll need to attend meetings to update you on the exam syllabus, as well as induction courses. The London Institute of Education runs a four-day course for NQTs in RE during the spring and summer terms. Book that if you can.

It's important that you get subject-specific support from a local education authority adviser, or someone in a neighbouring school - ideally both. Use the subject associations and the RE section of the TES staffroom (www.tes.

co.ukstaffroom), and stay in contact with tutors and students from your PGCE course. You'll need help with the curriculum, resources and moderation of course work. Your induction tutor should be someone who knows about your subject, and experienced teachers of say, history, may be able to help.

Keep asking for support. If you cope too well, you'll be left alone - a victim of your own success.

On the positive side, you get to plan what you want and make it your own.

Just think, you're the only one who can spend the RE budget.

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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