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Get NQT induction right to support teacher retention

Get NQT induction right to support teacher retention

4 May 2017

The recent report from MPs on the Education Select Committee which recommended that greater effort be made to keep teachers from leaving the profession really chimed with me.

Citing issues such as "unmanageable workload" and "lack of professional development opportunities" as reasons why people leave teaching, the report called for measures to tackle these problems and encourage more teachers to stay in school.

The government counters such arguments with the news that it is investing £1.3m on recruitment in this parliament and that secondary postgraduate recruitment is at its highest since 2011.

This has made me think there is another issue that needs addressing – the way we guide and induct our Initial Teacher Training (ITT) students and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs).

Figures last year showed that almost a third of new teachers who had started jobs in English state schools in 2010 had left within five years. This says to me that many schools are not getting staff induction right, particularly where NQTs are concerned, to ensure they are supported to fulfil their potential.

A good induction process is vital, but should not focus just around pedagogy – it is absolutely key that senior leaders are clear about the culture and expectations of their schools and concentrate on building opportunities for new staff, particularly NQTs, to get their feet under the table.

Every school is subtly very different, with its own sub-culture and I feel that it's these cultural aspects of induction which are often over-looked. There's a difference between feeling on-board and feeling de-skilled which is really important, particularly when you are a new teacher. It's simple enough to solve with the right induction check list to ensure key policies and expectations are made clear to new members of staff.

New staff, and particularly ITTs and NQTs, need good-quality mentoring and support – and those mentors in turn need time and professional support to do the job properly.

The key point is that if people don't feel part of the culture it makes delivery of their key skills very difficult. All new staff will find it very difficult to get off to a strong start otherwise – but NQTS in particular need additional support. The fact that they don't always get this may explain the figures showing such early exits from the profession. So I would implore all senior leaders to ensure they have an induction and policy that relates particularly to trainees and NQTs.

*A fuller version of this article appears in the April issue of Education Today – please click here to read the complete piece and find our guicance piece on Ensuring excellence in the induction of staff new to the profession

BlueSky Education

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BlueSky Education

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