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At risk of failing.

Discussion in 'New teachers' started by user 1133590, Jan 26, 2012.



    Hello all. I'm hoping for some impartial advice here.

    I'm currently an NQT in a reception class. I'm struggling currently with my induction year. I've not been graded by my tutor or head teacher as satisfactory yet. It was first flagged up when I was observed in my 7th week of teaching. I was graded as inadequate and the support started from there. However with all this support and being observed pretty much every week I've still only been graded as inadequate with some satisfactory elements.

    I've been advised that my school are worried I still won't meet the standards by the end of the year and they've asked me to research my options. They are obviously worried about the children in my class but are also worried for me as it's not nice being told you are inadequate every week! I phoned my local NQT advisors and I've been told that I could continue but obviously if I fail the 3rd term I will lose my QTS and not be able to teach again. I could also choose to take a break from my induction year and then return to continue the remainder at some point in the future. Be it one term or one and a half terms.

    Since my 7th week the school have put in extra support - observing me more, asking me to do detailed planning on a weekly basis, writing up action plans, having me observe other teachers so it's not that they are not helping me.

    My problem seems to stem from subject knowledge and behaviour management (I don't know what happened at uni but I seemed to get the raw end of the deal and have somehow gained great gaps in my knowledge even though I passed uni - I did a 4yr BA in primary ed).

    I was thinking that taking a break could possibly be beneficial as I don't want to continue and fail and I don't want my children to suffer. I thought if I stay until Easter putting in 200% then if I still haven't improved I'll take the break. I currently rent a flat so have rent and bills to pay so if I leave my job I need to find something else quick that can pay my way. I was thinking that getting a job as an HLTA would be most valuable in terms of gaining the extra experience alongside plenty of swatting up in books and I could do that for a year and then return to complete my induction (hoping that a school would take a possible failure on).

    My other options are to get supply work as I can do 16 months of supply - but I understand that relying on that is not likely to pay my bills!

    I just don't know what to decide - I know I'm the only one who can actually make the decision but I just would like some other peoples thoughts and opinions on the matter.

    Sorry my post is so long and probably not easy to read!
  2. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Not entirely true! If you fail Induction, you are barred from ever teaching in the State 5-16 sector again but you don't lose your QTS. That Qualified Teacher Status is yours for life.
    You would still be able to teach in the Post 16 State sector, where Induction is not required or in any age range in the private sector.
    I don't understand properly how you can have subject knowledge gaps for the level of work required of Reception age pupils. Do you mean that you don't know how to teach certain things to young children?
    A History teacher in Secondary may never have studied The Wild West or the History of Medicine but those are study options for GCSE that they might have to teach after 'mugging up' on the topic first.
    If you have done a B Ed, I think that your issues might be partly rooted in the workload. You will not have done anywhere near the timetable of an NQT when doing your various school placements on your course and not even anyhting like the workload of a PGCE student on their final placement. I remember 2 B.ED students at my final teaching practice school and they sauntered in for one lesson per day on 2 or 3 days per week, where I sometimes had 4 lessons to teach on one day.
    They were convinced that they had more experience becasue they had been doing placements for several years but it was very much a 'bite-size' approach to teaching in my view. We can all produce 'all singing-all dancing' lessons when we are only resposible for one hour of teaching and learning per day.
    I do think that supply teaching would help you, if there is enough work in your area. Yoou could even be a p/t HTLA and offer yourself 2 or 3 days per week as a supply teacher.
    Daily supply teaching would mean arriving and using some ready-prepared planning and slotting in some of your own ideas. You might have to take different age ranges but it would be no bad thing to be in EYFS or Yr 2 to get more of an idea of the years before and after your specialist age group.
    As you find your feet in the classroom, you would gain useful opportunities for references, thus not having to rely solely on the one from your current school. You might even get offered a term of work or more at a school that likes you and be able to get another, hopefully more favourable verdict on an Induction term.
    You should start approaching supply agencies soon if you reckon you will beleaving this post. Supply agencies can find you teaching work and HTLA/TA work so you don't have to opt for one or the other, or even decide what role you will have on particular days.
    You should not flag up your weaknesses when applying; tell them that your current school just isn't working for you (different from practice schools etc) and you are moving on at half term/ end of term.
    If there is a gap between leaving and getting contract or supply work, you can claim JSA and possibly get Housing Benefit and Council Tax relief as long as you don't have large savings.
    You would need to explain why you left your job and they would contact the school for verification. You would put thta you were advised by the school to resign as you were in danger of failing Induction, which would have meant ultimately losing the jopb anyway and being unable to even apply for another ina State school. The school will verify your statement and JSA should be approved, with no disallowance period applied.


    I was going to flag this up. I did a BA and yes in my first year I only did 2 weeks observational experience, 2nd year - 2 weeks group work, 3rd year 60% whole class teaching and 4th year - 80% whole class teaching with ppa time and 10% non contact.
    But, my final placement maybe didn't prepare me for the stresses of teaching on my own as such as my teacher tutor was always around and she quite often did transitions for me etc. But it surprises me I've been pulled up on behaviour as I've never had a problem with behaviour management before - maybe that's because I have always come into a class part way through a term when behaviour is already established, rather than having a class from the beginning of term.


    My subject knowledge gaps are the gaps in knowing where children's learning is going, particularly in maths (my weakest subject). I have read up on lines of learning in maths but this just doesn't seem to help me in lessons. Where my questioning is so weak I don't move the learning forward in my lessons. Where I'm being judged as inadequate I'm being told is because the children aren't necessarily learning anything in the watched lessons. I'm not moving the learning forward even though I am delivering a correctly pitched lesson for the age etc.


    As I said in my other reply my final placement had pretty much the same workload as an NQT. But also the extra workload should not effect my ability to actually teach a lesson. Yes it could stress me out etc but it's not going to stop me from knowing subject things and how to deal with behaviour. So I don't think the workload is a problem at all. Maybe a small contributing factor but definitely not the problem.
  6. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    I know it sounds obvious, but when you are observed, are you absolutely clear about what you want the children to learn and how you will evaluate success? In some of my lessons, I don't really expect the kids to learn anything! Sometimes, they are just consolidating knowledge or sharing ideas and I know that some students will learn nothing new but will be reminded of previous learning. But when you are being observed, you need to ensure that you can move things on. I don't know what you do in your maths lessons, but do you have a clear idea of what all, most or some of the pupils will learn in that lesson?
  7. Absolutely. I also did a 4 year education BA and my final placement was an 80% teaching timetable. I worked longer hours in that final placement than I am working now as an NQT.
  8. I had to laugh when I read this. I have recently completed a 4 year B Ed and worked pretty much every evening and every weekend over the 4 years (bar the summer hols). For my second, third and fourth placements I taught an 80% timetable and the demands of one of my placement schools meant I got only a few hours sleep a night- all this whilst trying to complete my dissertation alongside!
    You've made a huge generalisation and I completely disagree. I am actually finding my NQT year much easier than being a student. I have gone into a very challenging school and have not once felt underprepared or unable to cope!
  9. To the OP, I am really sorry you're going through this. Have you worked in FS before? Could it be a gap in knowledge of early childhood development that is holding you back from showing the children are making progress? Would a different year or KS suit you better? Are there any good books that could support your planning process? I wish you the best of luck with everything and hope all works out for you.
  10. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Write it down at the planning stage then so that you don't go blank when reporting on it to your mentor!
    I think that a lot of observations these days are linked to what hard evidence there is on paper rather than being prepared to trust what is happening over a period of time.
    I have to say that I find the 'All will... most will ... some will...' approach that is expected nowadays to be formulaic and rather obvious. Why does it need to be specified. With any activity all will pick up on some aspects, most will pick up on others and some will manage a limited understanding. Stating that does not improve the lesson or mean that you can predict which of the pupils will definitely fall in each category!
    It's the tick box culture that sees success in having the paper record that you have 'covered all bases'.
    If the 'All/most/some' is just a statement added to every plan, what value does it actually have with learning. We might as well make statements that all pupils will be in the room, most will pay attention some of the time and some will pay attention all of the time!
  11. I'm so glad that I'm not the only person who thinks this, as in my previous job, one of my line managers told me that I had to do this on my Schemes of Work in order to show that I differentiated my learning objectives! I did what he said, as I was leaving the job but was absolutely seething about it, as in my opinion, not only is this method forumlaic, it's also vague and almost impossible to measure! For example, I teach A-level Psychology, so using this system, I would have to write something like:
    All students will be able to define the term memory (ok so far-I can measure that).
    Most students will be able to distinguish between the different types of memory (here's the problem. How many is 'most'. Does this make clear which students will be able to do this and which won't? Does this help in terms of working out which grade each student will get in the exams? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!).
    A few students will be able to evaluate the findings of research into the different types of memory (again, how many is 'a few'? Can I say which ones? Does this make clear what grade each student will get? NO AGAIN!).
    I don't understand why some people come up with these bright ideas, such as teaching to learning styles (I'll save you the rant on that subject). I'm so glad that I don't have to worry about this kind of nonsense in my current teaching job! So, in future, I'm going to consider more useful ways of differentiating my objectives, such as by exam skill or referring to the exam specification's description of what Grade A, C and E students can do, or maybe simply by referring to exam requirements on various worksheets and handouts that I use every lesson as part of the instructions for various lesson activities, or even, God forbid, by getting the students to briefly write down what they think they've learned at the end of the lesson.
    Anyway, apologies for hijacking the thread!
  12. Btw, I just wanted to offer my symapthy xSJLx!
    As I'm a post 16 teacher, I can't offer specific guidance on your situation but I do appreciate your problem, as I had a similar problem when switching from A-Level Psychology to GCSE Sociology in a school. As my degree and experience is in post-16 Psychology, I felt the same when trying to prepare for the GCSE Sociology classes. I've been graded as good or better everywhere but felt like a total numpty as I just didn't 'get' how the course worked and what I was supposed to do every lesson, even after looking at the resources of the other teachers. Were it not for my previous experience, I also would have left teaching altogether. In the end, i went back into FE, but I now digress!
    The only thing that really worked for me was when my line manager (who didn't have to) took the time to sit down with me when we were both free and we literally planned the lessons together from scratch for a couple of weeks until I started to understand what to do with the students and why (after that, I planned the lessons and he checked my lessons and resources)! No-one else did this for me. Had they done so from the beginning, I think it would have made a real difference to me at the time.
    Is the school aware of what you told us about how you did things at your placement? If not, I'd go back to the most helpful person you've come across and explain this and ask if you can be given that type of support or the support that I got from my line manager for a couple of weeks to see if there's an improvement. In the meantime, the only other thing I can suggest doing when planning which is what I do is to make brief notes/annontations as I go along about the rationale for everything I do, so that if I forget, they trigger my memory.
    By the way, the LEA Advisor doesn't sound very helpful to me! Why didn't he or she offer to come and speak to you and the relevant school staff or observe you his/herself, as there may be other things that you could do that would help the situation that you and the school might not be aware of. but he/she might be
    Anyway, Hope you've found this response helpful.
  13. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    So what has the school done about this? They've identified a weakness, what are they doing to help you improve? Observing other staff? Training course on questions (there are always tons of these, and usually very useful in the early year of your career)? Helping you at the planning stage to help you 'script' questions to ask?
    There must be something going on other than just telling you to be better at it ASAP.


    I actually found your reply very helpful in terms of thinking about the support I'm getting. For a while now I've been told my questioning isn't great and was asked to do detailed daily plans to hand to my mentor at the start of the week. Since before Xmas I have been doing this. On my detailed plans I have been including examples of the questions I will ask children during the lesson.
    However, no one ever goes through this planning with me, no one has told me if it is right or wrong until I have an observation and it's all gone wrong and on my last one my mentor told me after the obs that the planning was weak. I spend several hours each Sunday doing this detailed planning to make sure it is on my mentors desk on Monday morning yet it's then never discussed with me. I understand that my mentor is very busy and I appreciate that. Maybe I should actually go to her and ask her to look at it with me (I've not done this as of yet as she is usually teaching or doing deputy head jobs and I don't like to interrupt).

    I've observed other teachers with a focus on questioning and the nqt course I was on the other day had a section on questioning.
  15. You seem to be suffering a lack of confidence which is adding to the stress of what is happening. Not sure you should be "rehearsing" your questions like a theatre script as it's putting a load of extra weight on your shoulders, then if you forget something, you get more anxious and stressed and forget more or lack the ability to <u>ask the right questions at the right time</u>. Then when your mentor asks for some answers, you have built up so much stress that you cannot provide the answer she/he's looking for. I would spend a day doing something very relaxing, not thinking about it, and then when Monday comes your mind is clear and ready. Probably not the advice you're looking for, but you need to look after yourself or you won't teach at your full potential.
  16. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    If you've been asked to submit planning in advance and are then being criticised after the observations for poor planning, it does seem to indicate that the school are not supporting you with planning, as they should be doing.
    Why submit planning in advance if no-one is going to look at it and indicate where they perceive the weaknesses to be so that yoiu can make adjustments before being observed?
  17. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I suggest that you go back over your time at the school and document events. You can then show thta you have complied with their suggestions, have submitted plans every Monday since Date X and have presumes that the planning passed muster as no-one informed you otherwise. You then taught your planned lessons and were only told that the planning was deficient after the lessons.
    This, at the very least, would be evidence for appealing a Fail verdict on your Induction and be partial grounds for having the verdict set aside to allow an extension to the Induction period.
    You now need to hand in plans and state firmly that you would like feedback on the planning before proceeding with it in class, with priority to be given to the lessons that are to be observed. Record in your diary that you have made that request and to which member of staff.
  18. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I agree with Jubilee.
    And I'm glad my post was useful. Hope you get things sorted. I know it can be awkward to insist that your mentor takes notice, but you really must, whether it means interrupting her or not. It's what SHE'S PAID FOR! If she doesn't have time to mentor your properly, she shouldn't be taking on the role.
    Totally agree with this. Keep regular notes and keep copies of everything. Even keep notes of when you spoke to your mentor/asked for advice and what the percise reply was e.g. "Was informed she was not available at this time and would find me later; she did not".
    Unfortunately, because of the glut on NQTs 'on the market' at the moment and the scarcity of jobs, schools can afford to try on an NQT for size and then just get rid of them and try someone new if they don't immediately appear to be brilliant. Many schools do this and it isn't fair. Don't make it easy for them; be pro-active, endlessly positive and accepting of constructive feedback, and ASK questions about how to improve.
    Good luck xxx

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