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What is an NQT?

Pupil and teacher in class
All Newly Qualified Teachers have to do on-the-job training to be able to teach in state schools, but what does it actually mean for your child to be taught by an NQT?

At some stage of their school journey, it’s likely that your child will be taught by a Newly Qualified Teacher, or NQT. It’s natural to be concerned that your child will suffer by having an inexperienced teacher, but the induction programme that every NQT goes through is designed to ensure that pupils continue to learn and progress as usual. We explain what it means to be taught by an NQT.

What is an NQT?

An NQT is a teacher who has just attained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and is now undertaking an induction programme that enables them to be legally employed as a teacher in a maintained school. They may have gained QTS in a variety of different ways:

  • By taking a Bachelor of Education (BEd) undergraduate degree, or a Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA/BSc) degree with QTS, a degree that incorporates teacher training.
  • By taking a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) or by doing School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), where graduates undertake almost all of their QTS training in a school setting.
  • Through an employment programme like the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP), where graduates are employed as an unqualified teacher while working towards QTS, or Teach First, a programme which provides teacher and leadership training for people who are passionate about giving children from the poorest backgrounds a great education.

Why do NQTs have to complete an induction programme?

Induction is the bridge between initial teacher training and a career in teaching. During the induction period, NQTs build on their initial teacher training to show that they’re able to meet expected teaching standards over a long period of time.

NQTs can do their induction in any maintained school, independent schools including free schools, academies and nursery schools, and certain independent schools overseas. They can’t do induction in a school that has an Ofsted special measures judgement.

Only teachers who have completed their induction programme are allowed to go on to practise in maintained schools, although NQTs who intend to work solely in independent schools, including academies and free schools, don’t have to go through induction.

How long does NQT induction take?

An NQT’s induction usually lasts three terms, so one full academic year. If the NQT works part-time, they still have to do the same number of induction hours, so their induction will take longer; an NQT who works 2.5 days a week, for example, will take two school years to complete the process. NQTs are advised to begin their induction as soon as possible after gaining QTS, although there’s no official time limit.

What are NQTs allowed to do?

One of the main purposes of induction is to give NQTs the experience of working as a teacher, and the opportunity to prove that they’re up to scratch. This means that their day-to-day job is likely to be similar to that of other, more experienced teachers. They should teach the same class regularly, and are required to do the same sort of planning, teaching and assessment as other teachers.

NQTs do, however, have a slightly reduced teaching timetable – 90 per cent of other teachers’ – to leave them time to do other compulsory induction activities. They shouldn’t be asked to deal with unusually demanding discipline situations, and nor should they be given additional non-teaching responsibilities (for example, responsibility for music, PE or another subject) unless they have support from other staff.

How are NQTs supervised?

Teaching is a big responsibility, so there are strict measures in place for monitoring, observing and supporting NQTs. Every NQT has an induction tutor: a member of staff within the school who provides day-to-day monitoring and support and coordinates their assessment.

During induction, NQTs are supervised in a variety of different ways:

  • Observation: this should happen at regular intervals, and each observation should be followed up with a discussion between the observer and the NQT.
  • Professional progress assessments: the induction tutor reviews the NQT’s progress regularly and comes up with new objectives and steps to achieve them.
  • Formal assessment: there must be three of these each year, usually at the end of each term. After the final assessment, the headteacher will make a recommendation as to whether the NQT has met the required standards.

NQTs only get one shot at induction. If, at the end of the programme, the headteacher considers their performance unsatisfactory, the NQT will not be allowed to practise as a teacher in any maintained school, and will be dismissed from their current post within 10 days, unless they lodge an appeal.

What are the pros and cons?

Parents often find that NQTs are dynamic and enthusiastic teachers, with lots of original ideas. ‘My own NQT year was hell, but I like my children having NQTs as they’re yet to have the enthusiasm sucked out of them,’ says Alice, a teacher and mum to Emily, 10, Grace, eight, and Sam, six.

‘We’ve usually found that NQTs are fresh faced, enthusiastic, full of good ideas and keen to get out there and teach,’ agrees Jacqui, mum to Izzy, nine, and Joel, seven. ‘Good schools tend to employ good teachers, and give them plenty of support.’

However, sometimes, parents find that an NQT’s lack of experience shows. ‘My son had an NQT in Year 2, and she was completely unprepared for a boy-heavy class,’ says Jen, mum to Archie, 12, and Jamie, nine. ‘Her crowd control was dreadful and she often lumped “The Boys” together and made them all miss breaktimes, rather than trying to find the perpetrators.’

‘My daughter has special educational needs, and one NQT was very pleasant but clueless,’ adds Andrea, mum to Emma, 11. ‘She assumed she knew best because she’d just finished university. But then, my daughter had another NQT the following year, and she was great – she didn’t pretend she knew everything and would go off and investigate.’

What if there’s a problem with an NQT?

If you have issues with your child’s NQT, first, see if you can resolve the problem as you would with any other teacher – by speaking to them sirectly about your concerns. If the issue isn’t resolved, you can take it up with the headteacher, following the school’s complaints procedure. But don’t be too hasty to judge: ‘I feared the worst having had a bad NQT experience before, but Emma’s second NQT was so good, and the result was that she started to thrive and was happy at school for the first time ever,’ says Andrea. ‘That teacher’s influence will stay with me forever,’

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