For those who gained or were due to gain QTS Summer 2020
Completion of initial teaching training courses
When schools closed shortly before the Easter break, the position of the NEU and the Department for Education (DfE) was that trainee teachers would not fail or have their course extended due to Covid-19 related absence.
The DfE has published advice on how the small minority of trainees who were not on course – before schools closed - to meet the teacher standards and gain QTS should be treated. ITT providers should allow for an extension, ideally of up to one term, to allow the trainee an opportunity to meet the standards and again QTS. There is funding available for ITT providers for this.
For SCITT trainees who are usually required to spend 120 days in schools, the DfE temporarily removed the requirement to gain experience across four school years, two different schools and the full age and ability range of training.
If you were in your final year of a BEd, it is the union’s expectation that your tutor’s assessment of you would count for your final award.
If you are earlier in your longer ITT course, eg BEd, your university should ensure that your course content is still being delivered, but that you are not put at a detriment due to Covid-19 related absence.
Support for NQTs
Those who have an NQT job starting in the autumn term
Robust support for NQTs in the next academic year must be provided, to ensure they are not disadvantaged by the current situation, but that they are fully equipped to become good teachers and pass induction. We are working closely with the DfE to ensure that professional development and support for new teachers is prioritised, as schools will face challenging circumstances when they reopen.
The NEU has several publications aimed at NQTs.
The Early Career Framework (ECF) is due for national rollout for those starting induction in September 2021. NQTs and RQTs this September will not be entitled to its provisions, apart from NQTs in schools participating in the early rollout. For more information visit here.
For those who have not yet got a job starting in the autumn term
It is difficult for schools to recruit in the current climate; the NEU is working with Government to ensure continuity for schools and teachers for when schools reopen. In Scotland, a scheme is being introduced to centrally employ all NQTs who have yet to find employment and place them in schools where needed. The NEU would be in favour of a similar scheme for England, although it would need to fulfil certain criteria, such as counting towards induction, in a suitable location, and for a guaranteed period of time. We call on the DfE to consider such a scheme.
Supply teaching or working as an higher level teaching assistant offers some more classroom experience but neither counts towards your NQT induction or offers the pay and conditions of an NQT post in a school.
Schools are keen to fill their posts ahead of September and are likely to be conducting interviews remotely. Clearly an interview lesson is not possible, but they might replace it with questions about how you would teach certain aspects. Before going for an interview, ask what will be expected of you during it.
Ask how the school will support you as an NQT in these very difficult circumstances. What arrangements does the school they have for mentoring? How can they support you in the first long and stressful term of qualified teaching?
Accepting a job at a school it has not been possible to visit
Visiting a school over the summer holidays won’t be possible but you can research it online. Exploring the school’s website and their social media presence are not a substitute for personal experience but they can give you some insight to the school’s ethos. As with all new jobs, you will not know exactly what a school is like until you work there but you will gain valuable experience from any school you teach in, which will provide you with great development for future roles.
Gaining a job when lacking in direct experience
All those gaining QTS this summer are in the same position this year, having missed a considerable chunk of their teaching practices, especially as the teaching hours increase during the year. It is not ideal for schools or new teachers but there will be positions to be filled.
At interview, make sure you explain what you have been doing in this term of the course; what work has been set and how you have remained engaged and proactive in your subject learning and your interest in teaching. You might have watched online lessons and seen things you thought were good and could use in your own teaching, as well as things you could constructively (and professionally) critique.
Also consider what other jobs and experiences you have had; you will have lots of transferable skills that you shouldn’t overlook.
For those on NQT induction 2019-20
Covid-19 related absences must not automatically trigger an extension of an NQT’s induction period and schools were asked to pass an NQT’s induction if they have met the teacher standards.
It is the NEU’s view that you should have been passed unless serious concerns about your ability to meet the teacher standards were already been raised with you, before schools closed in March.
If you were not been on track to meet the standards and consequently pass induction, the Government's position is that head teachers and appropriate bodies should recommend an extension. This would give you further opportunities to demonstrate that you meet the standards. Your school should still be offering you the full package of NQT support during an extension including ten per cent enhancement on PPA time, an induction mentor and regular feedback and support. See the NEU’s publications for NQTs.