Your NQT Year – 10 Critical Questions

When you’re thinking about qualifying as a teacher there’s one term that you keep hearing - ‘NQT’.

If you’re on the route to qualification you’ll already know what it means, but you’ll almost certainly have some other questions about your NQT status and your NQT year.

Wherever you are in your journey to qualified teacher status, we’ve rounded up ten questions that we hear time and again about what it means to be an NQT.

Let’s start with the most basic - what does it mean?

1. NQT Meaning - What is an NQT?

When you successfully finish your teaching qualification, be it, your PGCE or School Direct Training, you’ll achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

There are a number of paths you may have taken to achieve your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) including:

  • You might have taken your Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree, or a Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA/BSc) degree with QTS. This kind of degree incorporates teacher training.
  • You might have taken your degree and then decided to take a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).
  • You might have enrolled in the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT. This program allows graduates to carry out the vast majority of their QTS training in a school setting.
  • Or you may have come from an employment programme such as the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP). On this program, graduates are employed as an unqualified teacher while working towards QTS.
  • Or you may have come from Teach First. This programme provides teacher and leadership training for people who are passionate about improving the education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What is your next step after achieving Qualified Teacher Status?

Your next step on the road to becoming a fully qualified teacher is the NQT program. A newly qualified teacher (NQT) is a teacher in the first year of teaching, following their initial teacher training (ITT). All Newly Qualified Teachers have to take part in on-the-job training. Once you’ve completed your training, you’ll be qualified to teach in state schools.

So what exactly is the NQT?

The NQT program is a statutory three-term programme where you will teach classes, plan lessons and assess students. You will have a reduced timetable, often around 90 per cent, and you’ll have a mentor who will monitor, observe and support you all the way through your first full teaching year.

2. What is an NQT?

As an NQT, you will be fresh faced, enthusiastic, full of great ideas and super keen to get out there and teach. NQTs are often dynamic and enthusiastic and are raring to be given a class to show just what they can do.

Your NQT period is just like a bridge between your initial teacher training and your full teaching career.

Through your induction period, you will build on your initial teacher training to show that you are able to meet the expected requirements and teaching standards over a sustained period of time.

3. How to Get NQT Status

So, you’ve decided to enter the world of teaching. Congratulations on choosing, what many say is the ‘most rewarding career’ available.

There are two primary paths to take on your way to becoming a fully qualified teacher.

The first path is the traditional route through a university. You finish your degree and then you proceed to finish your Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). 

The second path is where you find a job and then get your qualifications. Independent schools are usually very keen to find academically strong undergraduates and graduates with a good degree relevant to the subject they will teach. This route is more like ‘training on the job’. 

If you are interested in working in the independent sector you can apply for a teaching job without teaching qualifications. Once you have been accepted into the job, you then begin training for your qualifications in your school. 

Most graduate trainees want to achieve a teaching qualification which is accepted across sectors. It is also satisfying to know that Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) gained while working in the independent or state maintained sector is transferable between sectors. This is a statutory qualification that is equally valid in whichever sector you have trained.

4. What is an NQT Year?

The whole purpose of your NQT year is to help you become a successful teacher. You will be offered personalised support and guidance through your first full year of your teaching career.

So, now you have successfully gained your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), it is time to begin your NQT year.

Your NQT year can be broken down into two main elements:

  • Professional Development and Support
  • Assessment against Teacher Standards

Will I have any support during my NQT year?

Yes, of course you will. As well as your tailored programme of professional development:

  • You will have the ongoing support of your mentor during your NQT year. Your mentor will be very experienced in all areas of the NQT programme so they will help iron out any problems you may have.
  • You will also receive regular reviews on your progress throughout your NQT year. You’ll also have a chance to meet with your head teacher on a regular basis, as well as your mentor.
  • You will receive a 10% reduction in your teaching workload so you have time to develop your skills outside of the classroom. This is in addition to your 10% planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time.
  • You’ll also have regular contact during your NQT year, with a consultant. They will be available to offer you any additional support and advice you need.

5. Where Can You Do Your NQT Year?

You are free to complete your NQT year in the majority of schools across the UK.  However, there are certain requirements to be met in some independent schools, nursery schools, and also some sixth-form colleges.

You can also complete your NQT year in an international school if it qualifies as a COBIS school that has successfully completed a British Schools Overseas inspection by the Department of Education.

Currently, COBIS-qualifying schools are able to offer NQT induction for a maximum of six years after the date of their last British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection. Be careful though, because not all schools run continuous NQT inductions. Consequently, if you are thinking of doing your NQT year abroad, make sure you contact the school abroad before applying for your NQT year.


6. Can You Do Your NQT Year Part-Time?

Yes you can do your NQT year part-time. However, your post will need to last for a term or more to count towards your induction period. 

The standard NQT induction period consists of three terms, and lasts for one full academic year. However, you can spread this out over several years if you wish.

Obviously, if you are part-time, you won’t be able to complete the NQT programme in one year. But that’s perfectly fine. You can take two or more years to complete your NQT year. 

In theory, you could begin your NQT year, but if something comes up, you don’t need to worry. You could take a break, such as maternity leave, and then come back to your NQT training when it suits your situation.

There is no actual time limit on doing your NQT year. You just need to find a headteacher who is happy to give you an opportunity and offer you a position following a long gap after your QTS qualification.

7. How to Pass Your NQT Year?

When it comes to the end of your first term, your mentor will sit down with you and assess your performance. Your NQT mentor will assess whether you are meeting the required teaching standards. And they will also provide feedback on all your observed lessons. You will have a chance to ask questions and discuss ideas to improve your teaching performance. This will happen again at the end of your second term.  

Once you have completed your third and final term, your final assessment will determine if you have met all of the teaching standards. All being well, your NQT mentor will then inform the appropriate body that you have fulfilled the necessary criteria to pass your NQT year.

Here are three tips which will help you pass your NQT year with flying colours.

Start your NQT year strong

First impressions count, right?

When you meet anyone for the first time, you want to give a good impression. Your NQT classroom is the same.

You are in front of a lot of new faces. So make your first impressions count.

Sure, there might be a few students who want to test your boundaries. Make sure they understand you are in charge. Make sure they understand your academic and behavioural expectations from the beginning. That way they won’t have any excuses as you progress through the term.

It is a good idea to set a clear rhythm of how all your lessons start, flow and finish. No one likes a boring lesson, so add some dynamic components to your lessons to keep all students engaged. 

It can also be helpful to get to know each other. You don’t have to give your life story, but taking the time to share a few details about yourself, and your likes and dislikes, can go a long way to improving the bonds between you and your students.


Learn your students’ names

Your NQT year will run far better when you know your students' names. Create a seating plan, with a few notes about each student to help you remember their names.

Once you know their names, your life as a Newly Qualified Teacher, will go so much more smoothly.

It is always embarrassing to need to ask your students their names two or even three times. When you forget their names, you are sending them a message, “I don’t care about you. You’re not important.”. You don’t want to be that teacher.

And remember, students don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.

There are many techniques for learning your students’’ names, but here are a few starters:

  • Repeat their name in your conversation. When you say a student’s name, you get to hear it twice: once from the student and once from yourself. Saying their name also ensures you heard it correctly. This is especially effective if it is a name you haven’t heard before.
  • Everyone’s favourite subject is themselves. Use that to your advantage. Ask about the student’s name. For example: How do you spell it? Who were you named after? Where is it from? What does it mean?
  • Visualise your students’ names. Have you ever heard this Chinese proverb? ‘What I hear I forget. What I see I remember. What I do I understand.’  After all, you are probably better with faces than you are with names. A smart technique for remembering your students’ names is to add pictures to their names. For example, if a student’s name is Mark, imagine putting a checkmark on his forehead. Imagine Mike jumping onto the table and singing karaoke into a microphone. Imagine Mary holding two lambs under her arms. Imagine Carol singing Christmas carols. Be imaginative. Be creative. If you implement these strategies, you’ll ace remembering all your students’ names, and reap numerous benefits throughout your NQT year.

Observe other teachers

One of the best and fastest ways to improve as a teacher is observing other teachers. If you’re concerned about classroom management, find out from your colleagues who is strong in this area. Then try to observe some of their lessons. This is also a powerful way to learn strategies, approaches and activities from experienced teachers. So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, learn from experienced pros. And an added benefit will be that your relationship with those teachers will be much stronger going forward.

For more tips on how to pass your NQT year, read our in depth article titled: 33 NQT Tips – How to Have a Brilliant NQT Induction Year

8. How Long Do I Have to Complete My NQT Year?

Your NQT induction period currently takes three school terms. These are usually completed consecutively and on a full-time basis in one academic year. But you can take longer if you need. 

If you are in England, you can take as long as you want to complete your induction period. If you are in Wales, you will need to apply for an extension if you do not meet the requirements in the equivalent of three terms.

If you are part-time, and working only 2.5 days a week, it will most likely take you six terms and two full academic years to complete your NQT year.

What Happens if You Make a Mistake in Your NQT Year?

We’ve all been through bad lessons in our careers. And if we’re honest, we’ve also had problems at the worst possible times. The dreaded observed lesson.

However, even making mistakes in your observed lessons doesn’t mean the end of the world. But whatever you do, do not ignore your mistakes. You’ll be given ample opportunity to discuss your lessons with your mentor. This is your chance to accept your mistakes, take responsibility, and explain to your mentor what you’ve learned from the experience.

After all, this is how we learn, right?

The frustrations, the tears, and the anxiety from a terrible observed lesson is part of your development into the exceptional teacher you know you can become.

At times like this, at the greatest moment of despair, you must remember your ‘why’. The big overarching reason you wanted to become a teacher in the first place. And of course, remember that your mentor has also been in your shoes, with the same fears and same feelings of doubt.

As your experience grows, you’ll have a complete toolset to deal with every situation that arises. Just remember to take a deep breath, keep a cool head and deal with the situation professionally.

Many teachers who have completed their NQT year believe it’s the most rewarding and supportive place to be starting out in this fantastic profession. You’ll soon realise that you always have a strong support network and that you can rely on others to help you grow both as a person and as a professional teacher.

For more advice about your NQT year, read our in depth article titled: London NQT Advice – Lambeth NQTs Have the Answers

9. What Happens if You Fail Your NQT Year?

Are you worried about failing your NQT year? You’re not alone. 

The simple fact is, every single teacher in the world has a bad lesson, a bad day, a bad class. This is just par for the course of being a teacher. All jobs have their ups and downs, and teaching is no different.

As part of the government’s drive to improve teaching, they have implemented a rule that teachers who fail all three terms of their NQT year will be barred from teaching.

This is very rare, so in some respects isn’t worth worrying about. 

What is important though, is that you deal with issues when they come up. And that’s the whole point of having a mentor. Do not let problems boil over. Deal with them as they come up. Make full use of your mentor to quash problems before they grow.

10. What Salary Can You Expect as a Newly Qualified Teacher?

Of course, none of us became teachers for the money, but it is satisfying to be rewarded for all our hard work. I’m sure you're wondering what kind of NQT salary you can expect as a Newly Qualified Teacher. So, let’s dive in.

NQT Salary Explained - How Much Will You Earn?

For the 2019/20 period, NQT pay for an inner London district is £30,480 before tax.

However, there are promising signs the government wants to increase teachers’ salaries.

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has announced significant changes to teacher pay. He has made statements in support of teachers signalling improvement in government thinking.

In July 2019, the Education Secretary was Damian Hinds and he announced a 2.75% increase and he also made this statement:

“Today’s announcement of a 2.75% pay rise for teachers, accepting the STRB’s recommendations in full, means that teachers and heads can receive a pay rise above current rates of inflation and have more money in their pockets.”

For more details on what you'll earn, read our full article detailing everything you need to know about your NQT salary

Your NQT Year - More Information

With those questions answered you might be wondering what’s next?

Well, if you’re about to start your NQT year then you can learn a lot more about how Lambeth approaches NQT training by joining the Lambeth NQT Pool.

Click on the button below to begin that process and get the Lambeth NQT Information Pack that will answer any other questions you might have.

Good luck in your NQT year!

Are You A Newly Qualified Teacher?

Join our NQT pool today for the chance of starting a career in education right in the heart of London.

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