Supporting NQTs using mentoring and coaching by school staff

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Templeton Primary School created a bespoke year-long intensive development programme that successfully met the learning needs of both pupils and newly qualified teachers.

Number of pupils: 110
Age range: 3-11
Date of inspection: December 2017

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

The selection of candidates for long-term teaching roles is arguably the most important decision a school can make.  The school believes that the processes for appointment selection are fairly standardised across the sector; however, the processes for what happens after the appointment are far less considered and often vary dramatically.  

In 2016, a teaching post at the school was awarded to a newly-qualified teacher (NQT).  The challenge the leadership team faced was how best to induct the relatively inexperienced teacher in order to ensure that the highest possible outcomes in standards could be achieved and sustained as quickly as possible.  Leaders agreed that, in order to accelerate the new teacher’s development, a bespoke development programme – that would operate across the whole year – would be created and implemented.  This programme needed to ensure that both the pupils’ and the teacher’s learning needs would be appropriately met in order to assure success.  The assistant headteacher had the responsibility for designing and carrying out this ambitious professional development project.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

A year-long intensive NQT induction and support programme was carefully outlined with the aim of ‘moulding’ the mentee into a highly competent professional at the school, developing key skills in classroom management, pedagogy and creating appropriate provision.  Training for these aspects was provided initially, with a greater subsequent focus on refining and enhancing practice and standards as the months progressed.  Two respective classes were also to be ‘mirrored’ so that the core learning experiences for pupils were the same at both schools in the federation and could therefore be quality assured. 

Weekly release time for one-to-one coaching sessions was organised between the assistant headteacher and the NQT.  During these sessions, the teachers discussed planning processes and teaching strategies, and studied examples of pupils’ learning from current and previous years to support teaching and enhance consistency.  A strong, trusting relationship developed between the two teachers, allowing for the free flow of feedback.  The NQT adopted a positive mindset and worked hard to refine and improve areas for development identified by internal and external mentors.

The NQT received structured professional learning activities to facilitate the progressive development of knowledge and skills.  Particular emphasis was placed on classroom management, the development of relationships and the fostering of a supportive, hard-working culture in which pupils thrive. 

Opportunities for the NQT to observe his mentor teaching were arranged, and these lessons were then conducted by the NQT at a later date in his own setting and reflected upon.  Numerous staff meetings were organised, focusing on the sharing of innovative and high-level practice across the federation, which provided additional opportunities for the NQT to learn from other experienced professionals. 

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

Following a half term of support and guidance, the NQT had proven himself ready to take on a greater range of responsibilities and tasks, such as the creation of innovative planning units and the resourcing of engaging learning experiences.  These projects were then refined with the mentor and used in both classrooms.  As a result, best practice was shared effectively, with provision being created and used by the NQT and the mentor.  This highlights the reciprocal benefits and impact that this method of bespoke induction has for both parties involved. 

Importantly, this approach to NQT induction has had a positive impact on the wellbeing of the newly qualified teacher.  He reported feeling valued and cared for, and he appreciated the investment in his professional development.  The supported teacher learned from the outset that the culture of the school promoted collaboration and the sharing of practice.  He has since gone on to support other staff to improve, whilst enhancing the culture further for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Of greatest visible impact in this initiative were the remarkable standards achieved in terms of classroom practice and outcomes by the NQT in that first year.  These outcomes have been formally recognised as excellent by a range of agencies, and this mentoring programme has proven what is possible when young teachers are afforded the guidance and support that they need in order to excel.

In conclusion, the training of newly qualified teachers is given high priority in the school in order to facilitate an effective and sustained process of professional development.

How have you shared your good practice?

  • through Estyn thematic surveys: ‘Primary School Improvement Journeys’ and conference at Principality Stadium

  • the ERW consortium Professional Learning Schools project

  • learning visits from schools across Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire