Life as a School Direct NQT

By Pippa Green, Primary School Direct Trainee 2015/2016

"My first half term as an NQT is well on its way, so far it has been an incredible whirlwind of resources, planning and hilarious comments from 5 year olds (“Miss Green you look like a Zebra” “Miss Green are you 10…or are you 60?” to share a couple).

I find myself wondering about displays, spending way too much time in places like The Range and other crafty shops and browsing Twinkl for titles and resources – where would primary school classrooms be without you? Also, who knew I would ever get so excited about owning my own laminator?! It may take a ridiculous amount of time to warm up and for that little green light to appear but it was the best £20 investment I have ever made.

But seriously, I continue to have those ‘pinch yourself’ moments at the realisation that I am now an “NQT” and finally qualified in the profession I have waited to be in for so long! Don’t get me wrong, I do still have times where I question ‘Is it worth all the stress?’ and ask myself ‘Do I even know what I'm doing?’ But having the support of other trainees that I met during my School Direct training to talk it through with or to do something unrelated to school to relax keeps me sane and excited about this year.

During my School Direct training much of my learning took place in the classroom. The advice and guidance from those teachers that supported and mentored me throughout each of my placements has been invaluable. I am reassured to know that with the Exeter Consortium NQT programme that this support will continue throughout the year.

It seems to me that whilst my PGCE year seemed to be about ‘surviving’, the NQT year seems to me to be far more about finding my persona with regards to the sort of teacher that I am going to be. My career has only just started and I cannot wait to learn, develop and see my class become 28 successful and happy 6 year olds (fingers crossed!)."

By Caroline Yoe, Primary School Direct Trainee 2015/2016

"In September, I began life as a Newly Qualified Teacher – or, as they say in a world filled with acronyms, an NQT.  I say September, but really I mean August because I spent a week during the Summer preparing my classroom.  This was a valuable exercise in helping me to feel at home in this space and also encouraging me to realise that there will always be lots to do in this line of work but it’s important to learn how to prioritise it all! 

And now, at the end of October, I can happily say that I have survived my first half term of NQT life.  There have been bumps in the road but I have found a school that is filled with kind, encouraging and experienced professionals who have gone out of their way to support me.  From the staff who came to say hello on days when I didn’t make it to the staffroom at lunchtime through to the parents who provided invaluable help on my first school trip, everyone has played a part in me getting to this point. 

Life as an NQT isn’t always easy but, as with the PGCE course, there are high points along the way that sustain you.  Over the past half term, these have included the delighted look on a pupil’s face when he learnt that he had improved his handwriting enough to earn a handwriting pen; hearing from a parent that their son thought school was ‘amazing’ – something they had never said before; and receiving positive praise following my first formal observation from my mentor.  It is these that make me want to grow as a teacher and continue to improve.  Furthermore, they remind me of the advice I heard throughout my PGCE, which was that the key to a happy NQT year was to find the right school.  Finding that school has allowed me to start being the teacher that reflects who I am, and has built upon the great feedback and advice I received in my PGCE year. 

So, as I look forward to a restful break, I am confident about facing the next part of the NQT year and continuing to progress as a teacher."