Starting out – first steps as an NQT

Reaching the successful conclusion of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) can be both daunting and exciting. ITE is challenging and exhausting as well as inspiring and motivating, yet as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) so much lies ahead. This will naturally vary from teacher to teacher, but here are some key points to keep in mind as you make the transition from trainee to fully fledged teacher…

9 Top Tips

– Never forget that your initial teacher education is designed to ensure that you start your career as a competent, or even excellent, beginner. Your initial training cannot hope to prepare you for every eventuality in the classroom throughout your career, but it does set you on the path for a career in which your ongoing professional learning should take precedence. Completing your ITE does not mark the end of learning about teaching and learning!

– Become familiar with the statutory guidance on induction for NQTs. This guidance details everything you can expect during your induction period.

– The Guidance states that “There is no legal requirement to satisfactorily complete an induction period if an NQT intends to work solely in the independent sector, an academy, a free school, a BSO, an independent nursery school or an FE institution. However, it may be possible for an NQT to serve a statutory induction period in such settings as set out in this guidance.” That said, completing your induction period successfully at this stage of your career will give you more options about where you can teach in the future.

– Not all roles are suitable for serving an induction period, so be aware when accepting a post.

The guidance (paragraph 2.17) states that suitable posts will:


– If you feel at any time that you are not being adequately supported throughout your induction period, or that your post is not suitable for induction, it’s important to speak up sooner rather than later. If you are at all unsure, your union will be able to advise.

– Keep focused on what you have to do, rather than on optional extras. There’s plenty of time to add (pleasurable) extras to your workload once your induction period is over. Streamline and focus; say “no” if you have to. Keep your eyes on the prize.

– Your mental and physical wellbeing has to take priority. Creating balance in your life between the time spent working and the time spent on other pursuits is essential. There are bound to be pinch points in each term when work load escalates, but it’s wise to ensure that these excessively busy times are followed by times of relative calm. Balance is key. The Education Support Partnership can help with this: 08000 562 561

– Knowing who can offer help and guidance once in school is important. You mentor will usually be a first port of call but others can offer guidance too. For example, year head, department or faculty head, and other NQTs are just some who might be of practical support.

– Work at developing a great relationship with your mentor. Being able to talk freely about your work without fear of judgment is crucial if you are both to find a way of progressing your practice in the classroom.

What to expect

There’s no doubt that your first job in the teaching profession is likely to be a challenge. It may test your resilience and may even have you questioning whether you have made the right career choice. But I hope it will also see you developing your knowledge, skills, and understanding of what it means to be a teacher, starting out, with a commitment to continuing your professional and personal development as you gather experience over the years. Good luck!

Author: Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth holmes photo

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.

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