1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Is it fair to give NQTs the most challenging classes?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Newly qualified teachers are complaining about being given tough classes and timetables that they routinely struggle with and as a result they are being turned off the profession.

    ‘According to Tom Bennett, the government’s behaviour management tsar, newly qualified teachers are frequently chucked “in at the deep end” when it comes to challenging classes.

    Writing on Twitter, he said the practice of giving new teachers the most challenging classes "needs to stop".

    “The hardest classes need the most highly skilled teachers,” he wrote. “‘Getting the easy class’ should no longer be seen as a perk.”

    Speaking to Tes, Mr Bennett said NQTs often told him their timetables were unfairly loaded with more challenging groups.

    “New teachers being given more challenging classes is still a very common thing. I frequently encounter NQTs who tell me they've been saddled with a full timetable and tough classes,” he said.’


    What are your views about the issue? Did you teach challenging classes when you were an NQT? Is it better for new teachers to learn this way by dealing with difficult classes early on in their career to see if they sink or swim?
  2. harpplayer

    harpplayer Occasional commenter

    Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a little concerned at the lack of posts on these forums? There are lots of important issues, but unusually for teachers i think, there is an almost complete lack of discussion.
    tvfilmmakeup likes this.
  3. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    As an nqt not only was I given the most difficult classes but also a set of rules to follow about uniform, phones and behaviour that I didn't realise at the time were being played fast and loose with by everyone else!
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Are NQTs actually given the most difficult classes, or do they just seem to the NQT to be the most difficult because they've not learnt the strategies to prevent and deal with poor behaviour?
  5. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Can't speak for everywhere but cherry picking does go on! Nobody has learnt the strategies for dealing with bottom set year ten in a sink school who've chewed through a different supply teacher every week for the whole of year 9!

    Add to this heads of year that we're like the local black holes and SLT that like to down play all incidents, or even worse blame you for them! It's sink or swim unfortunately!
    tonymars and JohnJCazorla like this.
  6. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I agree that the number of posts is dwindling and the number of posters is dwindling.

    Seems to be a fair number of posts relating to brexit. For me, I do not have the time to post and reply to everything.
  7. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    In some schools this happens because the timetablers realise that their experienced staff would leave if they were given some of these groups. At one of my schools (the year after left), the two new members of staff (both from overseas) were getting all the bottom groups. When I queried this, one of my colleagues said that these teachers would have to earn the right to higher ability groups. I did point out that with those timetables, the teachers would not be staying at the school for long enough to do this.

    When I have done timetables, I would always give myself what I thought was likely to be the worst behaved group (timetabling was usually done before the setting had been finalised) and I would always make sure that any NQT got the more straightforward classes (usually more KS3 and middle ability groups) but would change this as they gained more experience. It helped that I was leading a large department so this was possible; in smaller schools there would always be less flexibility.

    I would agree that NQTs also do not have the same range of strategies to go to with their classes which can make behaviour trickier. They also have to establish themselves in a school which is easier said than done in some places.
    strawbs likes this.
  8. defenceagainstthedarkarts

    defenceagainstthedarkarts Occasional commenter

    Oh, they always do this to NQTs. It’s not really because of wanting you to hone your behaviour management skills, it is because of the strong correlation between poor academic skills (especially literacy) and poor behaviour. In other words, the students who no one really expects to pass are given the teachers with the least experience. If some of them scrape through, excellent, if they don’t, no real harm done.

    It’s a flawed premise though. It happened to me in my NQT year in a school which was very badly run (though I didn’t realise it at the time) and I was 22 and struggling with violent and abusive students (towards one another more than me.) The difficulty is that other students see you struggling and you can find yourself perceived as a ‘weak’ teacher - in those days, good teachers could control classes, bad teachers couldn’t.

    I left that school after two years and all my behaviour management struggles vanished overnight - how strange!
    josepea, tonymars and JohnJCazorla like this.
  9. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    An excellent way of getting rid of all your NQTs in one year.

    tonymars and tvfilmmakeup like this.
  10. maggie m

    maggie m Senior commenter

    No it isn't fair but it happens. When I was an NQT I had one horrible bottom set year 9 and a lot of middle sets. I got lots of support with that bottom set and it did improve my behaviour management. Trouble is now there aren't many experienced staff to provide the support.
    Oscillatingass likes this.
  11. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    I was given a very challenging class during my NQT year. I’ll admit that I struggled with behaviour, but instead of giving me effective support the school concerned threatened me with capability. I left!
    tonymars and lovejoy_antiques like this.
  12. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    There may be a policy (official or unofficial) where the school/dept does not want to trust the top sets to inexperienced hands in case results drop or the HoD ands acolytes bag all the good classes. I recall 30 years ago when I started the HoD bagged all the A level work.
    tonymars and JohnJCazorla like this.
  13. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Oh yes the threat to extend/fail your nqt year! A school I worked at gave all nqt's I started with the dodgiest classes then threatened to extend/fail most of our nqt years at some point or another. All nqt's got a rough ride... Well apart from a deputy heads son who started a while later. He passed his nqt year unhindered by a timetable. So at least the school which will remain nameless could celebrate success there!
  14. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    What makes Tom Bennett think there are 'easy' classes?
    In my school, every class is a challenging class.
    tonymars and Luvsskiing like this.
  15. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    Seems to be the unwritten rule and practice. In my NQT year, I was given the two Year 11 bottom sets that the department didn't really hope would do well. It was tough because the students - due to their low ability - largely couldn't be bothered with learning, and therefore, were disruptive. I got them over the finishing line on my side and most did well in their GCSE. I also had other difficult classes lower down the school. The only classes I enjoyed teaching in my NQT year were Years 12 and 13. I soldiered on and left the school for a more saner clime. Otherwise, I would have left teaching. I won't ever go back to a state comprehensive, never; it will send me to my grave early. However, I do have huge respect for those who teach in that sector.
    Luvsskiing likes this.
  16. sophiemartinez38

    sophiemartinez38 New commenter

    no time to read the posts or even to answer if you are teaching. Posts are maybe more from people working in the industry but not necessarily teachers themselves. We have no time.
  17. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    New (to the school) teachers and especially NQTs are always going to get the worst classes because they are not there to challenge the decisions made in June/July over the timetabling. Or even know what is a good or bad set/year. Even if this is overcome in some way then the really obnoxious kids suddenly get moved up or down a set as another perk of staying there a year or more.

    As supply you'd think I'd come across the 'better' allocations now and again but when I do then there's a quick reassigning and/or stealing of TAs to make my experience less than ideal.
  18. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I have been on supply at an 'outstanding' school for 3 weeks. Some difficult groups in my TT but when I an given an extra cover (in what would be a 'free' it's amazing that they are always bottom sets. Most of these covers are to stand in for teachers having appraisal meetings or extra planning time. I suppose if I was in their situation I would also choose those groups to miss.
  19. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    As HOD I always took the bottom sets. I also required NQTs to come observe and give me feedback and let them take the odd lesson themselves to try out their strategies.
    If NQTs are left to sink or swim with difficult classes, most will sink and leave teaching.

    Did Tom Bennett really need to go speak to NQTs to find this out? It has been common practice for many a year.
    tonymars, JohnJCazorla and peter12171 like this.
  20. Ex-teacher

    Ex-teacher Occasional commenter

    It was one of the things expected of me as a HOD, although several of my predecessors didnt believe that was the case....

    As for nqts, we always gave them a mix of top middle and bottom groups. Ok, they might not have got the top exam groups, incase they were no good, but they had top groups lower down the school to compensate. If they proved they were any good after a year, they got the top exam groups.

Share This Page