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NQT worries - advice from our NQT ambassadors

NQT worries

We asked our NQTs for their top tips.

“Make sure the expectations are clear from day one. Have a chart if needed. I've been in a Y4 class and had names written on the board if children needed to miss some time for persistent low-level stuff. Quiet critters from Pinterest worked brilliantly, there's tons of great ideas on there. Try stuff out until you find something that works for you and your class.”

“observe teaching colleagues to pick up strategies.”

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“Each school will use their own version of a data tracker, update it regularly, ideally every half term or so. I also updated it after formative assessments at the end of units of work. Make sure you can back up what you've recorded them as, it'll be discussed in pupil progress meetings with you. Documentation, I'm not sure I've been as hot on this as I should have, but I joined my class in January and just picked up where the other teacher left off, SEN had a folder, Assessment had a folder, etc.”

“varies from school to school so speak to your mentor.”

Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning (Sutton Trust)

“Use time wisely, ask to look at old plans and just adapt those to begin with. I remember during my PGCE I'd spend hours making my own resources because I could, as an NQT that won't happen, use places like twinkl, primary resources and TES. The quality of your teaching is what will enthuse the children, not the laminated bits of paper.”

“I plan generally for my week on a Sunday and spent a lot of week nights coming up with individual lesson plans. A weekly lesson planning meeting with teaching colleagues is also essential for me. Longer term planning for termly/ yearly objectives is something I had to work hard on over my NQT year and I believe it really takes a year of teaching before you can do this confidently so ask for help.”

“all schools do this differently. Largely, we went by differentiation by outcome and support. Maths was a stepped lesson, all had same input and first activity, most went on to the second activity and a few did the more challenging activity. In English they were all given stepped success criteria in the form of must, should, could statements, but I'd throw in extra challenges for the higher achievers.”

“Be seen at the school gate, and update those of the 'more difficult' children with positives regularly. I sent reminders about kit lists for trips a few days before. As a school we had open classrooms once a term for parents to come in, as well as parent's evening in the Spring term. If parents want to speak to you, ask them to arrange an appointment, and if you're concerned, ask a more experienced staff member to be around.”

“Don't be worried about not knowing quite how to do this, no-one really does it seems. Best thing you can do is just keep asking questions. The post-levels system, in my experience so far, seems to be based on teacher judgement with evidence to back it up, and you'll get a feel for your class' abilities early on. Some of the most experienced teachers I've worked with this year are still feeling confused by it all, so at least we don't have the levels to compare it to! Regular formative assessments are quite good, I've been using them to identify general weaknesses in the class, but each school will use these differently.”

“The form of assessment may vary from school to school so speak to colleagues and your mentor about the system your school uses and acquaint yourself with it as quickly as possible.”

Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning (Sutton Trust)

“Talk to the SENCO about how to support these children, if they're old enough, talk to them and share ideas for things that will support them. Make sure print is big enough, and the right colours, provide general supporting resources (sound mats, word banks, 100 squares, etc) for all children to access. Adapt your classroom to work for them, but in a way that the changes will benefit the whole class.”

“Speak to your SEN coordinator, get to grips with pupils' IEPs, speak to previous teachers about what worked for them.”

Welcome packs for EAL students:

“Stay in touch with friends, and not just reaching ones. Give yourself at least 1 day at the weekend to do something totally different. Personally I promised myself to never take marking home, and yes, sometimes you're at school until gone 7, but when you're home, that's it. Looking after yourself is key too, find time to be active, don't succumb to the cake and biscuits in the staff room, and make sure you get enough sleep.”

“Regular yoga classes and lots of plans in the holidays works for me!”


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Ofsted inspections clarification:


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What do our NQTs say?

The following film clips are designed to help Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) and trainees develop professional skills, and star some Exeter University NQTs.

The clips are divided into 3 general themes and cover a number of topics that provide strategies and ideas to improve and support the learning environment:

The NQTs trained together in Exeter during 2010 and, at the time of filming, were working in Devon at Coombeshead Academy, Clyst Heath primary school, Willowbrook primary school and Exeter St David's primary school.