Completion of initial teacher training courses

  • The NEU has been clear that its expectation of Government is that exceptional treatment must be given this year for those undertaking initial teacher training (ITT). Those who were on course to pass should do so at the end of this academic year, even if they are off sick or in isolation as a result of Covid19. The vast majority of trainees will be well on-track to pass their training and gain qualified teacher status (QTS) this summer and should do so.
  • It has been reported in the press that rules for school practice hours would be relaxed for trainees to allow them to gain QTS this summer in order to be able to start work as newly qualified teachers (NQTs) from September.  The DfE says it is working with ITT providers to make these arrangements. This is in the interest of the school system as a whole, to ensure the influx of new teachers needed, and for schools to be able to fully function in September.
  • Whatever training route you are on, if it is a one-year course, or this is your final year of a longer course, you are expecting to complete your training and gain QTS this summer. We do not currently know how long schools will be closed for and if/when they might re-open after the Easter holidays. Trainees, teachers and schools are in a position where they must respond quickly to a changing and stressful situation.
  • The DfE has not said how those who have made “adequate” progress or who were unlikely to meet teacher standards, will be treated. In a small number of cases, where serious concerns have already been raised about a trainee’s performance, it might not be possible for them to be passed. Trainees must be kept informed of their trajectory for the remainder of the course. We want course providers to provide extensions in order to give the trainee the opportunity of meeting the standards and being awarded QTS. All trainees are expected to continue to engage with their course over this period.
  • We also need to see a recognition of the need for robust support for NQTs next academic year, to ensure 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 re-open.
  • For SCITT trainees who require 120 days in schools, the DfE has temporarily removed the requirement to gain experience across four school years, two different schools and the full age and ability range of training.  Where possible, you should contact your ITT provider if you do not hear from them. If you are on an employed training route, this will be your head teacher or your school mentor in the first instance.
  • If you are in your final year of a BEd, it is our expectation that your tutor’s assessment of you would count for your final award.
  • You should not be undertaking teaching practice whilst schools are closed to most children and not operating as usual. Your course provider may well set other work that you can do from home to help with your completion and show how you can meet the teacher standards. It is vital you continue to engage with your course between now and the summer, in line with DfE guidelines. Assessment based on your practical teaching should be on that seen prior to school closure. 
  • If you are unwell or are caring for someone who is unwell, or have childcare difficulties, which means you cannot complete set work, you should contact your course provider to ensure you are not disadvantaged. 
  • 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. If you have been offered a post already, we would expect that employer to honour the offer on confirmation of your course completion and QTS award.

Induction and newly qualified teachers

  • The DfE has announced that Covid19 related absences will not automatically trigger an extension of an NQT’s induction period.
  • Schools will be asked to pass an NQT’s induction if they have met the teacher standards. It is the NEU’s view that you should be passed unless serious concerns about your ability to meet the teacher standards have already been raised with you.
  • Many NQTs are continuing to work in schools in some form despite many being closed. Where possible, we would encourage NQTs to continue with their professional development and maintain frequent contact with their induction tutor and/or mentor. 
  • If you have 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 first port of call is your induction tutor if they are available, or head teacher. If you are concerned about anything you are told, please contact the NEU for further advice.
  • We want to ensure that NQTs are properly supported if they are working in schools delivering any supervision of children during the shutdown. However, it would not be appropriate for them to be the only teacher in school at any time.
  • If you are asked to come into school during this time, you may do so if you are fit and healthy and feel the work requested of you is reasonable for your skills and experience. Please contact the NEU for advice if you are asked to undertake work that you do not feel equipped for, or you do not feel supported in carrying out.
  • You should not be asked to teach the normal curriculum or undertake work that would be assessed against the teacher standards.
  • If you are working from home, this might be on planning or other activities that support the school and its staff. Please refer to our guidance on distance learning for more details.

NQTs & trainees frequently asked questions

Is there any further information on Recently Qualified Teachers (RQTs) being allowed an extra 5 per cent planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) in 2020/21?

The Early Career Framework (ECF) is due for national rollout for those starting induction in September 2021. Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) and RQTs this September will not be entitled to its provisions, apart from NQTs in participating schools in the early rollout areas. For more information visit here

How is the lockdown affecting applications for teaching jobs?

We suspect that fewer positions are being advertised than usual as some teachers who might otherwise have resigned have not yet done so. There may be a flurry of resignations before 31 May or fewer vacancies for some months. Supply teaching (assuming schools reopen in September) would provide you with experience when positions are advertised, particularly by schools seeking an immediate start.

How should trainees approach online interviews?

Those schools currently advertising will be keen to fill their posts ahead of September and will likely be conducting remote interviews. 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.

Should I accept a job at a school which I have never visited?

It won’t be possible to visit the school but you can research it online. Things like Ofsted reports and league tables are not a substitute for personal experience but they can give you some insight. As with all new jobs, you will not know exactly what a school is like until you teach there but you will gain valuable experience from any school you work in, which will provide you with great development for future roles.

What questions should I ask at interview?

Ask how the school will support you as an NQT in these very difficult circumstances. What arrangements do they have for mentoring? How can they support you in the first long and stressful term of qualified teaching? 

Will missing placements due to Covid-19 decrease our chance of employment compared to someone who has had the full three placements in a PGCE?

All teacher trainees 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 and new teachers are needed to fill that gap each year.

At interview, make sure you tell them 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.

What advice would you give to schools in how to support NQTs in the upcoming year? What additional measures might you suggest they introduce?

The NEU is very clear that NQTs and RQTs will need even more support then usual. We would like to see less contact time for NQTs this year, as well as supportive mentoring to help new teachers hone their skills and to manage workload. 

Further information

DfE guidance: coronavirus (COVID-19): initial teacher training (ITT)