The key to a successful NQT year

Adam Speight

Award-winning teacher Adam Speight is a Middle Leader in a secondary school in South Wales and also works as an FE lecturer specialising in ICT and Computer Science. Aside from Adam's teaching commitments he also runs his own education consultancy business - Mr Speight Consultancy and since qualifying as a teacher in 2011, he has worked in both Wales and England in the state and independent sectors in a variety of roles. He is always keen to share his ideas and is a frequent educational writer and speaker. Adam is always looking for new, innovative teaching ideas, so that no learner ever gets left behind.

Follow @Mr_Speight

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Learning how to become a teacher is just like learning how to drive a car. This is because when you learn to drive a car someone is always with you. Once you pass your test you are on your own, and this analogy is very similar to teaching, whereby once you pass the course you have been studying the door closes and you are now the teacher. When this happens you are given full responsibility for a class, and you are therefore accountable for both their learning and progress.

This is a pivotal time in your teaching career as ultimately, just like with driving a car, you’ll do things differently from your training. It is important that you get these different things right. Your NQT year can therefore be the best and worst year of your career, and this article is going to give you an insight as to some of the key ingredients which - I believe - can help you to have a truly successful one.

The first ingredient to having a successful NQT year involves organisation. Organisation is "Don't just organise your time around your social life."key, because not only does your timetable increase in your NQT year, so does the amount of responsibility you actually have. It is important that you don't just organise your time around your social life; organise it around the school calendar. This is really important, as during your NQT year - like any year in the school calendar - things will crop up. As such, it is important to know when certain events are taking place.

In particular, these events can include book scrutinies, data collections, additional meetings etc, and all of these things are non-negotiable. You have to make sure these deadlines are hit. What you don't want to be doing with these deadlines is rushing to meet them, as this is when mistakes can be made, and ultimately these mistakes will have a negative impact upon your teaching and learning.

Teaching and learning is obviously really fundamental in your NQT year. Although people in the staffroom will say to you at some point “Don't worry about your observation, you're only an NQT”, it is these observations which help to cement your reputation with your colleagues. As such, it is important you work hard in order to become good / outstanding as soon as possible. This is, I appreciate, much easier said than done, and the best way to do this is to seek as much feedback and guidance off other people as possible.

It is important not to wait for someone to guide you towards additional help, and as such you shouldn't be afraid of asking other staff for help if you need it. Asking for help isn't a weakness; it's being resourceful, and as long as you appreciate and are willing to act on the feedback you are given, staff will be pleased to give it. At the same time, never take any negative feedback to heart. If it happens it happens, and as such the key to success is making sure it doesn't happen again. Remember, the whole point of receiving feedback is to move forward and this is what your NQT year should be about.

CPD is a really important aspect of your NQT year, and this is because it is the year in which schools are most likely to allow you out for additional training courses. These are really important as they help you to close any gaps you may have in terms of both pedagogy and subject knowledge. It is important, however, that you try and find what courses you want to go on, and discuss them with the relevant people. This is a good sign of you being proactive, and it can ensure the courses you go on meet your needs and don't just provide you with a decent lunch (although that always helps!).

CsPD (continued self-professional development) is another"You shouldn't be afraid of asking other staff for help if you need it." important part of your NQT year, as not all your CPD can or should be directed by one person. It is ultimately up to you how you decide to do this. Some new teachers read books which certain teachers have written, and find these really help them to progress. For me personally, Twitter is my book and as such I use it to exchange ideas with other educators. It is important, however, that if you are going to use Twitter for your own CsPD you use it wisely. For example, just because you have lots of followers, it doesn't mean you’re a great teacher. You have to earn that right, and it is important you remain grounded when using this brilliant resource!

The final aspect of having a good NQT year, I believe, rests with you working hard. It is a stressful year. It is a year that will push you. It is a year which is unpredictable. It is the toughest year of your career. However, it is also a year when sets you up for the next 40 years of your teaching career (35 years to go for me!). As such, although your work life balance may suffer slightly, it is important to get it right. Getting it right also involves smiling. Ignore the teachers which say “don't smile until Christmas” - do smile, and remember it’s a privilege to be a teacher. The holidays will help you to recover!

What tips would you add? Share them below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"