Under normal circumstances, most newly qualified teachers (NQTs) would now be looking forward to emerging from their induction period and successfully launching their careers on a secure footing for further early professional development. But these are not normal circumstances, and with schools across England set to reopen, albeit to limited year groups and almost certainly vastly reduced numbers, will it be possible for NQTs to demonstrate that they can meet the requirements of the induction period?
The Department for Education (DfE) in England has put in place new arrangements for NQTs, which will, it is hoped, offer a path through the unprecedented challenges facing early career teachers. A spokesman from the DfE told Eteach: “Trainee teachers will have faced unique challenges this year and we are grateful for the support they are providing teachers and pupils at this difficult time. While placements in schools have been interrupted, trainee teachers will have continued to complete assignments, take part in online tutorials and training, and in some cases engage with pupils remotely. Newly Qualified Teachers will have gained valuable experience by having to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances.”
The latest guidance available for NQTs from the DfE (Induction for newly qualified teachers during the coronavirus outbreak) sets out how NQTs can complete induction despite the profound impact that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will have had for many. Some of the key points from this document include:
- NQTs absent for coronavirus related reasons will not have their induction period automatically extended (absences that total more than 30 days and not related to the coronavirus outbreak will cause the induction period to be extended.
- It is down to headteachers and appropriate bodies to make the decision about whether an NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards “based on their performance throughout their induction” and the decision is to be made at the end of the end of the induction period (at the end of the academic year for most NQTs).
- NQTs are encouraged to keep up with their professional development and also to maintain “frequent” contact with their induction tutors/mentors.
- The final assessment for NQTs should still be at the end of the induction period and NQTs still working in schools should continue to gather evidence.
- The decision about whether NQTs have passed induction or not should be based on previous assessment records as well as discussions with induction tutors, taking into consideration teaching practice during the coronavirus-disrupted period and the NQT’s “work context”. Performance is assessed against the relevant standards.
- “We are continuing to work with the sector to understand the impact of COVID-19 on all schools, including the impact on our 2019 cohort of trainee teachers.”
The Department for Education is keen to stress that Newly Qualified Teachers “will have successfully completed their programmes and will have been assessed as being on a trajectory towards meeting the teaching standard will be well-placed to make a valuable contribution to schools as they join the teaching profession. We will continue to support all NQTs who join schools from September.”
There will be some NQTs for whom this period of disruption will have been deeply unsettling. If this includes you, do seek support sooner rather than later. Your line manager, mentor, union and Education Support Partnership can all help, as may contacts on your personal learning network on social media platforms such as Twitter.
The message is clear: if you are in the process of completing your induction period, aim to gather as much evidence as possible, keep in touch with your line managers and mentors, and raise any concerns you may have as soon as you can. The current situation is desperately unfortunate but life won’t be like this forever. Look ahead to brighter days. Good luck!
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.