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Giving a NQT A-level classes?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by VeronicAmb, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Hi there, just thought I'd see if I could get a general discussion going. I've already thought about this and I've already done the timetabling for my English department and there's is a new NQT starting next week. I decided to give him year 12 English Literature only 2 lessons a week; 1 hour each, so it's not that bad aha. My question is to my fellow HOD's: would you give an A-level group to an NQT who has had either minimum or no experience in teaching A-levels during their teaching training? What are your thoughts on this?

    Do you think all trainee students should have an equal amount of training in KS5 compared to their KS3-4 training?

  2. I'm not a HOD, but an NQT - I hope you don't mind me replying. I have been given two Year 12 A Level classes for this year, and they are the class I am most woried about. I love the A Level course and find it really interesting, but I had minimal training in KS5 teaching on my PGCE (my mentor felt that me leading 5 revision sessions would be adequate). I do think that more time should be spent on KS5 during training, as the topics are so much more detailed and in-depth and the impact on students (entrance to uni or not) is so great. I think it puts a lot of pressure on the NQT and many of my NQT friends have not been given A Level classes for this reason.
  3. I would definitely give an NQT some A level teaching as I think it has benefits for all involved, although I agree with what you've done in terms of giving him year 12 rather than 13, and a couple of lessons rather than the whole loading.
    From the point of view of the NQT, it is great experience, usually really enjoyable to stretch and challenge and reinvigorates passion for the subject. It is usually pretty easy in terms of behaviour management so a nice break on the timetable. Whilst A level requires a lot more marking, classes are usually smaller and if he views it as teacher facilitating rather than lecturing, the planning load shouldn't be too huge either. Just bear in mind that there is hardly ANY KS5 training on PGCE courses so it would be worth getting him to observe lots of other KS5 teachers early on.
    From the point of view of the students, they will get the benefit of an enthusiastic newbie, keen to try out lots of ways of jazzing up lessons, which will make a nice change from boring textbook lessons!
    I had both AS and A2 on my timetable as an NQT and quickly found that it was my favourite part of the week. The only thing to be wary of, however, is that if he is a young NQT, it can sometimes be a bit tricky with the boundaries as the age difference is not huge e.g. as a 22 year old NQT I was teaching 18 & 19 year old A2 students, which was a bit tricky, especially as I lived in the area and so would bump into them in bars. My tactic was to leave as soon as I saw them but that's not necessarily possible if with a group of friends!
  4. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    An NQT should be able to cope with an A-Level group.

    For AQA, however, I found teaching Year 12 a much bigger challenge when I taught A-Level for the first time. A2 is nothing unusual, I felt, and there was nothing particularly difficult about preparing them for LITB3 or LITB4. At AS, however, while LITB2 is fine, LITB1 does have quite a distinctive approach. It took me a lot longer to become comfortable with exactly what I (and the students) needed to do for LITB1, whereas I found all the other modules pretty straightforward the first time round.

    I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be given an A-Level group, but depending on which board I would strongly recommend sending him on one of the Inset days they offer.
  5. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I think it's also about sharing of resources, ideas and methods. I teach MFL, not English, so it may be different, but when I had an NQT I made sure she had a folder full of resources and lesson plans, and we discussed the teaching in her weekly meetings. She was free to use them or not, but it took away from the pressure of teaching A-level. As the main teacher of the class, I was in charge of everything to do with exam techniques etc, so that students knew exactly what they would have to do in the exam. I also made the course very structured in terms of assessments, so that there wasn't a lot that could go wrong. After the initial year is over, you can discuss with your NQT aspects that you want them to be in charge of, as well as a more balanced spread of lessons.
    The problem is of course that it weighed my timetable heavily in favour of A-level classes, to the detriment of other, potentially problematic younger year groups.
  6. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Thanks to everyone who replied :)
  7. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    No-no it's completely fine that you replied! That's why I started the thread (or whatever you call it) so I could get a few opinions and inputs. I don't think you need to be worried, I mean back when I was an NQT which was about 8-9 years ago, I didn't teach A-level groups until I was in my 3rd year of teaching! Well that doesn't sound like a big step really;l mean revision sessions aren't anything compared to what normal lessons are like, in contrast to lesson planning, homework, marking, et.. Yeah, I totally agree with you on that NQTs should spent a lot of training on KS5. In my previous school (I was not HOD), we had an NQT and their policy in that school was not to allow NQTs to have A-levels until their 2nd or 3rd year of teaching - which I thought it was ridiculous. She had every year group from year 7 to year 11, but not KS5 & I believe KS5 is where you can really dive into subject specialism i.e. Language or Literature. Would you rather not have A-level groups then? Thanks for replying by the way! PS: I try to split my sentences where appropriate, but it's just not letting me do it! Sorry about that.
  8. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Thank you :) and plus, we both share the same group. I thought this would be easier to keep an eye out and if he needs help with anything, I'd be easier to work with him on that basis. Okay thank you, I'll take that tip about him observing lots of other KS5 teachers! Also, our maximum number that an AS-level class can hold is about 17 students, which is a lot & I've got 4 AS levels this year! :( Would you suggest him observing the subject I put him into (year 12 English Literature) because we have 2 different groups? and also, should I mix it up a bit, by putting him in a year 13 class to observe? Or is it best to leave him with year 12?

    Hmm, got your point on the age boundaries; he's 23 so I think I'll see how it goes in terms of how he treats the students by rules/language he uses and stuff 'cause sometimes, I do tend to say the off s-word or the f-word around my A-level groups. So hopefully he's not like me - but in all fairness we've all come across those sort of jargon in A-level English texts (apologises if you're not an English teacher).

    Then thanks anyway for your advice, I shall defiantly be applying them next week! Can you believe we've got only 3 days left? Not to mention, getting my 5 and 7 year-old's for school this year!! It's going to be a busy summer - as ever aha!
  9. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    That's a very interesting point you've just made because our spec if AQA, but LTA1B. Well hopefully (for him), LTA1B isn't too bad for him! We're sharing the same class anyway and plus I didn't give him the harder class, like I gave him the teaching module where he has to teach them the wider reading section for the exam & I'm teaching contextual linking, so I think it should be all right. Yes! That's a good idea actually, I shall be organising that on Monday actually!
  10. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Well, it's more of how the timetabling is set out. We both have the same class but, he'll have them twice a week and I'll have them thrice a week; I'll study question 1 of the exam with the students, while he will study question 2 of the exam with the students. Just wondering, was this folder an arch lever file, or just a normal A4 ring binder? Hmm, I shall be having a word with this one on Monday about your suggestive tips! I think it terms of structure our methods are more-or-less the same really, it applies with English Literature, especially English Literature. Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one!! I mean, It's really frustrating! This year, one the more experience and well professionalised teachers has taken up the new HOY 7 role and for some reason one of my teachers has been landed with 2-3 history option lessons to teach! and I have no say in this because he's the most 'suitable' out of all teachers in the school, but yet the humanities department have 10 full-time staff! So now I've been left with FIVE A-level groups and 2 KS4 groups!! It's defiantly problematic for me! PS: sorry for the ranting! I thought I was the only one with that situation!
  11. Shatnerbassoon

    Shatnerbassoon New commenter

    Last year as an nqt 4 out of my 6 sets were a level, and i hadnt done any ks5 during training. I personally loved it, and have to say i found it much easier than ks3/4 as theres no real behaviour problems and certainly no sublevels of progress nonsense! I think as long as the person has good subject knowledge, teaching ks5 is no harder than ks4 subject and planningwise, if anything in my subject (maths)its easier as the kids seem keener on doing textbook questions than any kind of bangs and whistles activities!
  12. I'd say he should observe a range of subjects and a range of year groups. In my opinion an NQT should be observing one lesson per week anyway, from a range of subjects and year groups. It's good to pick up ideas of how other subjects do things as lots of pedagogical techniques are transferrable.
    My advice would be to arrange his first half term's worth of weekly observations for a range of subjects and a range of year groups, but making sure there is a good amount of KS5 in there (History, Law, Psychology etc- complete range). Then leave it to him to arrange the rest of the weekly observations based on what he thinks he needs but ensure that he has done this in your weekly meetings.
  13. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Okay, thanks for your advice. I'll have a think of where to put him, but I'll need to do bunch of other things such as talking to other HOD, SLT -cause some of my HODs are so isolated in their own subject, they have no care for anyone else's aha! Yeah, my school has over 28 different A-levels so I'll pass him over to different departments that range from practical work to writings tasks to ICT task too. I think I'll let him observe around about 7 subject lessons, so that'd be an observational lesson once per a week. I was thinking of: law, computing, chemistry, film studies, drama & philosophy & ethics or classics? I don't think I'd give let him observe any other KS because he has every year group but year 13 in either english or film studies (GCSE option).
  14. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Oh really? In my opinion I'd never give an NQT that much A-levels, but maybe that's because you belong to a maths department, while English criteria, marking, SOW and planning at an A-level degree is extremely different. Yeah you made my point doing 'textbook questions' in English A-level, there are no such things. We never use textbooks in English other than anthologies.

    Relating to your opinion on 'teaching ks5 is no harder than ks4', well I partially agree with you on that one, I would say it's no harder, just very different in terms of going in-depth about the subject knowledge and the marking and examiner criteria are just atrocious at A-level compared to KS4 for English. Any English teacher would tell you that.
  15. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    It may also have a lot to do with the fact that good English teachers are far easier to find than good mathematics teachers. As for planning etc. etc. it is six of one, half a dozen of the other.
    The responder is a NQT. It would be rather unlikely that they would have enough in depth knowledge of curricula to be able to create questions off the top of his or her head. In such a situation, although not ideal, following questions from a book is probably the best course of action.
    I would actually disagree with the assertion that teaching KS5 is no harder than KS4. To me this would imply that you have not really understood the demands of KS5 or what it means for the students. In terms of actual content it is probably easier to teach as the students are more motivated and start from a more knowledgeable position. Yet success or failure in the terminal exam is of much greater importance and the consequences of relative failure ( remember at GCSE there is not really a great difference in obtaining an A or an A* as far as further studies are concerned but at A Level, the difference between an A and a B can mean the difference between going to university or not ) mean that one has to be much more aware of students strengths and weaknesses, and have strategies in place to deal with this.

  16. I would be very unlikely to give an NQT A-Level teaching. Firstly, most of our NQTs have never had a desire to teach A-Level for all sorts of reasons (not necessarily lack of subject knowledge). Secondly, the high stakes nature of A-Level results to our students and faculty mean I want "known quantities" teaching them. An NQT might make a brilliant A-Level teacher, but I'm not willing to risk it. Finally, and most significantly, I think there are enough challenges in the NQT year without asking them to teach a third key stage. (As an aside, I now want all teachers to commit to a subject-specific, A-Level-specific PD course before I'll give them A-Level teaching).
  17. Mrs_Frog

    Mrs_Frog New commenter

    Please do let your NQT have A level experience....
    My first HoD refused to let me have any GCSE or A Level experience in my subject when I was an NQT, which then had a hangover in my next post, in which I only had one GCSE (lower attainers) in my subject.
    My original plan was to teach A Level History and Politics, before I left mainstream I had done AS/A2 General Studies and one class of GCSE Geography. (Secondary history trained, into Humanities dept as an NQT with a very possessive HoD who was History)
    I can understand brookes' point of view entirely, but if someone is keen to do it, then surely they should be given the opportunity to teach A level, because it can cause problems for them later on, in that they could well be up against colleagues in interviews who have had that experience and will be unable to secure certain posts, especially if they are a few years into their career by then.
    MF x
  18. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    If a teacher is in it for the long haul, they shouldn't "need" A-Level teaching in their first year. I've just started my 5th year of teaching and only now do I have a 6th form group (thrown in the deep end with year 13) and that's after a year of supporting a year 12 group under another, more experienced, teacher. I've spent 3 years prior to now in that school.
    Naturally, I would have liked to have got into it earlier, but I can also understand you don't start handing out A-level classes when you have more experienced staff already doing that job who have consistent results at that key stage. You want proven members of staff teaching important stages like A-level, and frankly, an NQT isn't proven even if they go on to be the best teacher in the world.
    We're in a career - you don't develop the whole thing in one year.
  19. I agree with others that it's probably best for all concerned if an NQT doesn't teach KS5. I think the NQT year has enough challenges without A-level teaching. Even for someone who has good subject knowledge, it takes time to get up to the standard often needed at A-level. For example you could have got an A at A-level and have a degree in the subject, but it can be 3 or 4 years since you've done the actual content at A-level and when you're teaching A-level, you need to know the content inside out as you have to be able to get 100% on any exam you're teaching for, as the kids will quite rightly expect you to know everything. It can take time to brush up on these things, and that's not in any way derogatory to any potential A-level teacher. Also, most trainee teachers don't teach a lot, if any, KS5 while training, so they don't have the experience of forming working relationships with Sixth Formers that is necessary for success. This is a lot to ask of any NQT at a crucial time in the NQT's career and the education of the A-level students. I think people underestimate the differences secondary teachers can face on a daily basis - on any particular day I might go from teaching bottom set year 7's who are below NC level 2 and have the maturity level of 5 year olds, to upper sixth students studying for Further Maths modules and are deadly serious about their studies, and that's a huge difference in subject content, relationships and how you prepare/deliver.
    Also, this might be a bit of an unfair comment, but in Maths specifically compared to English, there is nowhere to hide if you can't answer a question. I would imagine in English there could often be a vague response to deflect something you're not 100% sure of. In maths, if you can't explain how to answer a question and get to 'the' right answer, you're in trouble!
    For context, I am in my 6th year of teaching now and I have taught A-level since my 2nd year of teaching. Believe me, I was chomping at the bit to get some sixth form teaching in my NQT year, and I was bitterly disappointed at the time when I didn't get any. However, looking back I know that was the right thing for me and my career, as well as the students.

  20. nemo.

    nemo. Occasional commenter

    Mad! A-level traught by NQT.
    Start with KS3 and work way up. Less damage!

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