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Can NQTs work in head of department post

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by Dteacher1, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. Dteacher1

    Dteacher1 New commenter

    Hi this is my first post and please be gentle with me :)

    Here I go, my speciality is working in SEN schools focusing on certain disabilities. I also teach in shortage subject so... the job market is very much in favour of me and those in similar position as mine.

    The issue is you could literally count the number of teachers with similar qualification as mine with one hand (perhaps two) in whole of the UK. Because of this, these schools tend to recruit regular teacher and then train them, but even so, they typically leave within few years as it's not really the type of job you can get satisfaction pupils succeeding.

    Although recruiting regular teachers in those jobs is not easy either. These schools tend to advertise the same vacancies every year, if not every few months.

    So... I saw a job advert for a school I would very much like to work in. The only issue is that it's for Head of department.

    Is it possible for me to work in that post?

    I am aware of the potential issue with workload but I don't think this is much of a concern as I did my PGCE in a SEN school. The workload was very manageable.

    Edit: This is for SEN schools with less than 100 pupils on the roll.
  2. sofia_sen

    sofia_sen Occasional commenter

    I found your post a bit difficult to understand. Do you mean you are currently working as an NQT in a special school but you would like to go to another school for a HOD role? In the middle of the year or after your NQT year?

    I am not sure but I believe you need to be teaching to complete your NQT year, how else would you provide evidence against the standards?

    I know some NQTs are the only person in their department and therefore you could say they are the HOD but in general I don't think a school will hire an NQT as HOD. Not because they aren't allowed but because you probably lack the required experience.

    I wouldn't dream of applying for a HOD post until I have established myself as an outstanding teacher, but that's me :).
  3. Dteacher1

    Dteacher1 New commenter

    Sorry for confusion. I am on my gap year between PGCE and NQT now.

    There is a position available for the school I would like to work in but it's for HoD role.

    I don't know whether the school would accept me if I applied but I was wondering whether schools can recruit a NQT into HOD role if they wanted.

    Of course, I will be teaching during my NQT year.
  4. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Yes, they can.

    Most people would advise against taking such a role as many find Induction highly stressful. Add that to the additional stresses of the HoD role and it's likely to be a disaster.

    If you go for it, get cast iron, written down, guarantees of support & workload limits.
    rachelpaula008 likes this.
  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    They can - but as PaulDG says, "it's likely to be a disaster". Trust me, the difference between your PGCE and being a proper, full-time employed teacher is massive. Add in the fact that NQTs are given an extra 10% off timetable - because it's such a hard job and they need more time to be supported, to learn and to grow into the job - and you'd be insane to consider even applying.

    Find a main scale post, take your time, learn your craft.
    rachelpaula008 and wanet like this.
  6. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Plus if you are the HOD who is going to support you?
  7. Dteacher1

    Dteacher1 New commenter

    Isn't workload a less of concern when working in extremely small school?

    Anyway, you're probably correct, it's not a good idea after all.

    Thanks, I'll go for main scale post instead.

    Probably non-HoD teacher. My PGCE's school was like this, the school had only two teacher and for a variety of reasons, the HoD was unable to support me except to sign off certain papers. I relied on my university tutor and regular teacher for a whole duration of the course. It worked out pretty well I must say.

    Anyway, thanks for replies, I'll have to forget about that vacancy and keep looking.
  8. varcolac

    varcolac Occasional commenter

    Smaller school doesn't mean less work. I teach in mainstream, with about 280 students per week, planning and marking for classes of 25-30. With under a hundred students with severe SEN, the workload per student would doubtless increase. You might find yourself spending as much time per student as I do on some entire classes. As a crude analogy, my partner teaches in primary, and has exactly one-tenth the number of students. She spends exactly as much time planning and marking as I do.

    You say your PGCE workload was manageable. Good. Now, the amount of teaching, planning and marking will be at least doubled for your NQT year. Add more for the HoD role. Add even more pressure as you'll now be the one responsible not just for your own students' progress but to an extent the progress of every student taught in your department.

    Cool your jets. The school will still be there once you've got the experience to back up the enthusiasm.
    rachelpaula008, Sillow and DYNAMO67 like this.
  9. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    Why don't you contact them and ask?
  10. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    We've all advised that it's not a good idea for an NQT to take such a role even if a school says they're willing to consider them; in fact, any school saying they would give it to an NQT isn't a good place to work as an NQT, in my opinion - because they clearly don't understand what their own responsibilities to an NQT are, nor how hard it is for NQTs.
    John_in_Luton, Sillow and DYNAMO67 like this.
  11. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    Yeah I wouldn't have advised them either and I agree with you, but the easiest way for OP to find out for themselves is to ask the advertiser instead of relying on our opinions.
  12. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    If a school says, in its advert for a HoD, that NQTs are welcome to apply, it is probably because the office just took the last ad that they had used, changed the heading from Teacher of Chemistry and put instead Head of Department of History.

    Without checking to see if the rest of the ad was relevant.

    Ditto if the NQTs are welcome to apply is in the job details.

    A HoD post is not suitable for a NQT because:

    1. A NQT needs support to get through the NQT induction year. The role of a HoD is more demanding than that of a teacher, and would make an unbearable workload and level of responsibility.

    2. A HoD needs to know what they are talking about, what they should be doing and how to do it. They need skills and wisdom gained from experience. As a NQT you would not know waht to do nor how to do it.

    3. A HoD needs credibility. Not inly do you need to know what you are talking about, what to do and how to do it, you need to have your colleagues and parents believing that you do.


    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. Dteacher1

    Dteacher1 New commenter

    Thanks for replies again.

    The vacancy actually explicitly stated that NQTs are welcome and training will be given if necessary. I contacted them, they've said that the training will be given by another HoD and the workload will be shared between them for a year. They implied that I would be handling any subject specific duties of HoD (e.g. choosing an exam board) and they would be handling anything else.

    The school sounded bit desperate during the call and they actually flat out stated that they've advertised the same position for 3 years now but no guarantees that they will advertise next year again.

    The only reason why I've given this a thought, is that it's perfect school in perfect location for me. Not many SEN schools are like that.

    I guess I can apply next year once I finish my NQT year.
  14. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    They have advertised for three years without finding anyone willing to do the job and that doesn't ring alarm bells?
    And if they are so willing to have an NQT and to cover lots of the HOD duties elsewhere, why not advertise for a normal teacher?
    It sounds very fishy to me.
  15. badpower

    badpower Occasional commenter

    I would be very wary of any school willing to recruit an NQT as a head of department.
    Suewan, Lara mfl 05 and Middlemarch like this.
  16. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    What is the subject?
  17. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    The only time that i have known it to happen was an internal appointment for a HoY. Only an NQT applied. Many suggested to the powers that be that this was not a good idea and that more experienced staff might be persuaded to do the job. It was felt that a willing volunteer was better than someone who needed to be persuaded.

    The person concerned didn't get the help that they were promised. It ended very badly for them!
    rachelpaula008 and DYNAMO67 like this.
  18. Dteacher1

    Dteacher1 New commenter

    Just to clarify, they're not advertising specifically for NQTs, they're advertising for everyone and stated that NQTs would be welcome.

    It's not really strange if you consider the circumstances that led to them being desperate enough to be willing to recruit NQTs for HoD position. The SEN school I did my PGCE at, had only one applicant for English teacher position which was advertised for a year and it was from NQT. It's not the job that regulars teachers are happy to do as it would require a radical change in their career and further study to gain specialist qualification.

    This particular school had to advertise HoD because former one left years ago and since then, the HoD duties are shared out across teachers of that subject. The post is advertised because nobody in that school wants to do HoD job.
  19. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    It is strange. They could easily advertise for a teacher and continue to do the HOD duties across the school. They could then promote after a while if appropriate. Someone must be teaching these classes just now which again makes me wonder why nobody internally wants to be promoted.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.
  20. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Take note OP! This would certainly be a red flag for me.
    (Plus all the other good advice given above.)

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