Proposed changes to NQT induction
An opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
NQT induction is an important part of the life of a school. Getting this right can play a major part in retention of staff and, having a reputation for a high standard of induction for new teachers can support recruitment. The introduction of MATs has brought with it both the responsibility and the opportunity to provide a coherent programme for the early professional experience of new colleagues.
This year has seen the initial recommendations from a consultation on the extension of the induction process to two years. Although the detail has yet to be finalised, it appears likely that teacher induction will become a more robust process from 2020 with a stronger emphasis on the quality assurance of that induction. Schools and MATs will therefore have an obligation to provide a consistent experience for all NQTs.
There is also a move towards greater centralisation of procedures in MATs. This includes policies, systems, curriculum and even examination specifications. Consistent approaches to the NQTs experience during their first two years working in a MAT, seems to be a logical extension of this form of alignment.
Consilium Academies, the trust of 8 academies of which I am CEO, is an example of a MAT that has more than one hub and covers more than one LA – in our case five. The differences in the NQT accreditation offer from LA to LA are significant in terms of quality of provision, the robustness of the quality assurance and the cost of the programme. It therefore makes sense to pull together the experiences of the NQTs under one umbrella and our academy trust has started this process in partnership with NTA (National Teacher Accreditation formerly NIPT). NIPT was originally set up in 2013 at the request of the DfE to offer a sector led alternative to this service normally offered by LAs. The key advantage of this move is that all our NQTs will experience the same level of support, professional development opportunities and assessment process irrespective of academy or LA. Training for Co-ordinators and Tutors can be carried out centrally and the induction process can be led and overseen by an overall Trust Co-ordinator/CPD lead.
This means that within out trust a ready-made network exists for teachers new to the profession that can provide visits to other academies, Teach Meets and resource exchange on our ‘shared area’. New teachers therefore do not feel isolated. They have support from the trust, the academy, their mentors, their peers and NTA.
Well-established examples of such developments already exist. ARK for example also operates with NTA and provides an exceptionally thorough support and development programme for all their NQTs across the trust. We are similarly hoping to create our own programme that provides consistency in training on policy, procedures and pedagogy. Expertise can be more readily shared across the trust through joint training and development sessions. Some of these sessions are facilitated by our subject networks and links with subject associations.
Looking more widely, MATs are also likely to establish links with Teaching School Alliances and SCITTs and some may already have these operating within their own trust. In our case, a successful SCITT operates in one of our hubs. One area to explore is the future development of a composite three-year programme that incorporates the initial teacher training with NQT induction years one and two. One of the positive outcomes of this joined-up process would be more effective personalised objective setting for performance management. This doesn’t exist yet within our trust but we hope to devise a high quality professional induction programme over three years that includes both generic and personalised training backed by high quality mentoring and assessment. This, we hope will help with our recruitment and retention.
Pulling academies together into one induction process (we still have a little way to go here) ensures that the quality assurance of the induction period and the methodology used throughout the process is consistent and strong. This quality assurance extends to independent verification by one Appropriate Body.
From our perspective the advantages of using NTA are extensive. It provides us with a framework for developing a culture of high quality professional development for all NQTs that is coherent and consistent but also provides opportunities for some personalisation as part of the experience.
As professionals we have a responsibility not only to our own trust but to the regions in which we operate and indeed the wider sector, to ensure that we get the induction of NQTs right and establish the strongest possible foundations to these critical early stages of their teaching careers. Consilium has chosen to work with NTA in order to deliver this to their new colleagues.