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The year you turn into a teacher

Entering your career may feel like arriving from another planet. But because all new teachers face the major transition from student to professional, induction year is receiving more attention than ever before. Elizabeth Holmes reports.

The induction arrangements for new teachers in England come into force today, which means that every newly qualified teacher employed on or after September 1, 1999 must satisfactorily complete an induction period in order to retain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The induction period will be one academic year for full-time new teachers and the equivalent for part-time teachers. You don't have to begin the process immediately after gaining QTS (although that is advisable).

Most schools will be able to offer an induction year to new teachers, but some (such as sixth-form colleges and some independent schools) will not, so it is important to check with your union or local authority if you are at all unsure.

Induction goals: The two main goals of the induction year are to provide support in becoming established in the profession and to make possible relatively structured assessment of your work when measured against the Standards for QTS and the Induction Standards.

These standards (which will form part of a Government circular to be published by the Department for Education and Employment on May 12) will build on those for Qualified Teacher Status and are centred on planning, teaching and class management; monitoring, assessment, recording, reporting and accountability; and other professional requirements such as working with support staff, the implementation of school policies and professional development.

Responsibility: Several people will share responsibility for your induction. The headteacher will recommend whether you should pass or fail your induction year having ensured you have received fair and appropriate induction and assessment. Your induction tutor (or mentor) will co-ordinate your day-to-day support and assessment, while you will have responsibilities to engage fully in the process as well as self-monitoring.

The governing body and LEA will also have roles to play. Everyone involved should be focused on increasing your confidence and competence as a teacher through support and close monitoring.

Timetable: Your timetable will be reduced to 90 per cent of a full teaching load for your first year in the profession, leaving time for "planned development, preparation and training", and the timetable reductions should begin in your first week. Should you require sick leave in your induction year of more than an aggregate period of 30 days, then your induction will be extended, as it may be (if you choose) if you take maternity leave.

Passing or failing: If your induction has been of a professional standard, you will be in no doubt about exactly how well you are doing, so there should be no surprises when the head tells you the decision on whether you should be recommended to continue your teaching career.

Any indications that you may not pass the year must be discussed with your union. Do not wait until the end of the year before raising concerns.

If you are told you have failed the year, you will have the opportunity to make a written representation to the "appropriate body" within 10 days. You must be given written notice of your right to appeal and the conditions of appeal.

There's no doubt that the circular to be released on May 12 will be viewed in the future as a turning point in education. Read it, absorb it and make sure that your needs and further development remain central to the whole process, as you only get one chance at induction.

It is likely that the vast majority of newly qualified teachers will pass. After all, any failures will reveal far more about the standard of training and induction received than anything else.

Further details of the induction year and the Government's circular are available on the DFEE's website:

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