My Story

Emma Maley describes her personal experience of the Teacher Induction Scheme.

Computing teacher, Glennifer High School, Renfrewshire

School Allocation

I feel all Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) will agree that there is no moment more nerve-wracking than the wait to find out your allocated council and school. You wait nervously for weeks, jumping at every email notification in the hope it will be that email finally revealing your council – silently praying that you get your first choice from your chosen five. I can’t even imagine how nervous those ‘box-tickers’ are – the NQTs who choose to be placed in any of the 32 local authorities. Finally, when you receive confirmation of which school you will be placed in; there is a sense of relief, however the anxious feeling still won’t dissipate. At least, not until you have Googled your school, asked around other NQTs to see if anyone has had a previous placement there and receive reassurance that in fact, the kids aren’t wild and won’t lock you in a cupboard!

I myself received my fourth choice of council, which I was disappointed with at the time. I didn’t drive, and my school took an hour and a half by public transport to reach (two trains and a bus). As the school was so far from my own local authority, I had no idea what it would be like. I frantically searched it up on Education Scotland and was relieved that it seemed like a good school.

The official visit to the school is an exciting one; getting to meet the other NQTs and staff you will be working with in the forthcoming year; visiting your department and getting a chance to see the curriculum they teach. After this initial visit, my feelings of anxiousness left and I couldn’t wait to get started (I was especially excited that I had been given my own classroom!). The night before starting school in August, I felt like a pupil about to join secondary school for the first time. Would I have good classes? Would the pupils and staff like me? Would I know how to teach the curriculum properly? That first day, and indeed the first week, went by in a blur. Luckily, my classes were great and the staff in my department, senior management and other school staff (in particular the janitors!) made me feel right at home.

Teacher Induction Scheme

I found the Teacher Induction Scheme to be extremely beneficial throughout my year as an NQT. Regular weekly meetings with my mentor (who was a fantastic help) were particularly supportive, observed lessons were a breeze (definitely not as intimidating as ‘crits’ at university) and the professional learning courses I attended definitely impacted on my own learning and teaching. I was supported extremely well during my probationary year, not only by my own mentor and department, but also by the depute head in charge of NQTs and the head teacher. It was reassuring to know that there were several different people I could speak to if I had any issues.

As a student teacher, I was rather disillusioned with my university and teaching experience. At the time, I felt that a lot of the content learned about in university seemed outdated or relevant only to primary teachers, and learned no new information about my specialist subject (computing). School placements involved far too much paperwork (I have never looked at my dreaded Teaching File since graduating) and seemed too false – I was always aware that the classes weren’t really ‘mine’ and that I only had a limited time to develop relationships with the pupils.

My Personal Experience

My experience as an NQT was drastically different from my experiences at university. I relished having classes that were fully my responsibility – teaching them in my own classroom, being given the freedom to deviate away from the curriculum sometimes to bring in new, more relevant units of work and in particular developing relationships with staff and pupils alike. I had a brilliant working relationship with all of my classes, and the most important piece of advice I would give to new NQTs would be to develop positive relationships with your pupils as quickly as you can – learn everyone’s names, learn their interests, learn which friendship groups they belong to (particularly useful when setting group work). Having such positive relationships with your classes mean that behaviour is rarely an issue and means that both you and the class enjoy the time spent together.

When my classes learned I was an NQT and only at my school for the year, my S1 pupils wrote numerous letters in an attempt to have me stay, which was a lovely feeling. In particular, one S1 girl wrote: “If you feel as if you haven’t achieved something new then you have not been in Miss Maley’s class.” I think this line perfectly summarises what I had tried to achieve during my probationary year, and I am forever grateful for the experiences I have had during my year at my school. You can imagine my delight at being able to stay on at my school for another academic year – for once I am secretly hoping the summer holidays will fly by so I can get back to teaching!

Advice to New NQTS

To all new NQTs, I would give the following pieces of key advice:

  • Get to know pupils as quickly as you can
  • Reflect on your lessons all the time (would you have enjoyed that lesson as a pupil?)
  • Organisation is vital (particularly when marking assessments and writing report cards)
  • Keep your GTCS profile up to date (I completed mine the period after my mentor meeting)
  • Always keep a box of tissues in your room (colds and nosebleeds are a lot more common than you would think!)
  • Take part in anything you can to get to know other staff and pupils
  • Contribute to your department as much as you can (in particular with development work)
  • Learn to switch off – enjoy your own personal time at weekends
  • Consistency is key – have the same simple rules for all classes all year round
  • li>Enjoy the freedom of finally teaching as a ‘proper’ teacher!