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Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I'm an NQT working in a school with serious weaknesses. We're going to be inspected again and things are getting fraught. I don't want to be constantly harping on at other staff members, who are stressed enough, but I need help. What happens if we go into special measures, and where do I stand regarding my induction year? I've been told the inspectors will want to talk to me. Is there anything I need to prepare? I have planning and assessment files. I'm getting myself in a pickle worrying about this.

Stop worrying. You can't be accountable for the state the school is in. It's not the end of the world if the school is put into special measures. It can be positive because it means something will be done to improve it. Any NQT will have to be supported - often by someone outside the school.

The same inspection criteria apply to all teachers - no allowance is made for NQTs. This may seem unfair but the reason is that children in your class are entitled to as good an education as those in an experienced teacher's. It would seem logical to think that NQTs get the lowest grades but new teachers often do well in inspections. This is because you plan, teach and assess using the latest methods - and because you're good. Almost half of all lessons taught by NQTs seen during Ofsted inspections are graded between "excellent" and "good". Imagine you're on teaching practice and you'll be fine.

Don't exhaust yourself by spending hours on displays. Concentrate on helping your pupils make progress by teaching as well as you can. Inspectors will be focusing on the quality of children's learning, and the teaching and management of the school that accounts for it. They'll want to see the work of a high, average and low-achieving child. You select the children and, obviously, you'll make sure their work reflects well on you. Choose ones who attend well, work hard and who have made most progress since September. Make sure your marking is as useful to the children as possible, praises effort and shows you are pushing them on to the next level.

Inspectors need to find out if the school is complying with the induction regulations. They'll want to know whether or not you're getting a 10 per cent reduced timetable and if you're using that time for professional development - being supported, monitored and assessed properly; meeting the induction tutor; and having objectives for your development. There's nothing to be gained from being anything less than honest.

Are you a student or NQT? Email your questions to: Sara Bubb's A Newly Qualified Teachers' Manual: how to meet the induction standards is published by David Fulton, pound;16

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