NQT dilemma

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NQT dilemma

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    Hello,

    Am in my first term of NQT as a part timer (through necessity rather than choice), and have just been told that I am "failing".  I have been observed a number of times, receiving 'satisfactory' and on two ocassions 'inadequate' - these were graded according to Ofsted criteria rather than the NQT standards.  I have also been observed by an external person and was graded 'good'.

    I am of the understanding that an NQT cannot fail a term of induction, only the year as a whole.  However this is knowledge gleamed through trawling the TES forums, as opposed to anything my school or mentor have told me.  They are clear that I am not meeting their expectations and this is a serious issue as I am "on track to fail".

    Before this I was tempted to resign as I am not happy at the school and do not feel that the Head or my mentor are people I can approach or turn to for support or guidance, luckily the other staff are very supportive and encouraging.  However since my mentor has implied that I should resign, I now feel defiant about staying and seeing out my contract, or at least finding an alternative position.(although I do have conerns about what kind of reference they would provide for me!).

    As I am part time I am unsure what constitutes part of my NQT time - as I have been on a few courses (approximately 3 specific NQT courses) that took place on other days of the week that I do not normally work, I have accordingly claimed overtime for these. 
    I have only had an initial meeting with my mentor where a great deal of paperwork was thrust upon me, and another brief (less than 30 minute) meeting where my action plan was decided.  After the head observed me for the first time (only because I informed them I was seeking employ elsewhere and he didn't observe me before appointing me) I was told that I was inadequate and the school arranged regular shadowing sessions for me to observe "how it should be done".
    I have now been told that I have my final review meeting next week and have the weekend to "sort my evidence to prove myself", my mentor explained that she will only be checking off standards that I am secure in and stressed that I am in serious trouble and they have already contacted the LEA to seek advice on what to do if an NQT is failing [although I suspect this may have been code for "we have been through the contract with a fine tooth comb trying to find a loophole to get rid of you AND checked with the council, but we can't"!]

    A few people have suggested contacting my union but all of my negative feedback has been verbal, all of my observation feedback forms record constructive criticisms, so I do not have any evidence of this.

    I am on a fixed term contract [incidentally covering a teacher who is taking the school to tribunal because of the way they treated her while she was there for less than a month] so both I and the school realise that this is not a permanent position.

    Just wondered if anyone has any thoughts about this?

    Thanks in advance.

    PS.  I have a terminally ill parent, who we have just found out has only weeks remaining.  I have not mentioned this to the school or used it as an excuse in any way, nor taken any sickness days.  However my mentor brought up the issue and said that this was no excuse; when I pointed out I wasn't using it as one she said that it wouldn't have been considered if I had.

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    It all sounds horrible and I really sympathise with you and your situation. That last bit about your personal life and them bringing it into the discussion was no business of theirs and they were wrong to do so. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at giving advice but I would strongly encourage you to just talk to your Union. It's what they're there for, you pay them for it, and you can discuss with them the fact you don't feel you have any evidence. You may be surprised at how helpful they can be or you may find out you were right and they can't do anything. You'll never know if you don't call them. Maybe keep a log book (at home not at school) of things people have said? Stay strong, NQT years are tough with or without difficult mentors etc. Best wishes x
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    As you are part-time, when did your first Induction term start and when will it end?

    You don't have to be meeting all the standards in Term 1 of Induction to be ticked as making satisfactory progress towards meeting the standards by the ne dof Term 3 of Induction.

    Meeting  some standards in full and some in part would be normal for the first part of Induction.  If you met them all in Term 1, there'd be little point in spending anotehr two terms (f/t) on Induction.

    As the post is temporary anyway, there's no need to resign early when weaknesses are highlighted.  The advice to resign, or to get an early release from the normal notice periods, is normally given to those who are in their final Induction term and have been informed that they are unlikely to meet the standards by the end of Induction.

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    Thank you both for your replies; anon I really appreciate the encouragement, and jubilee thank you for sharing your knowledge. 

    My induction started in January and so first term should finish at the end of the summer term (in 3 weeks), although I was working (albeit via agency) in the position from the start of the academic year.

    I have an action plan, which I signed off at our first (and only) hurried meeting.  
    It has 3 objectives and 13 'actions to be taken', which vary from detailed and annotated lesson plans to photographic evidence and examples of marking etc.

    I am really despairing of this situation as I am dreading going back into school where all of the SMT consider me to be a terrible teacher, (and although I have been told that "the fact I am failing is only known to the SMT and is at my discretion to share information with anyone else - however the Yr group coordinator is aware that you are not doing well", so I feel that it has been strongly implied that I am 'failing') and having to see out the rest of the term.

    My mentor has told me that we will be spending the morning in review, and I am not looking forward to this at all.  I feel very uncomfortable in her presence and find her very intimidating (as I know many of the other staff feel this way too about her as a professional, despite being friends with her outside of work) and have real anxiety about this meeting as I feel that no matter what I say it will be wrong and everything will be all my fault.

    My mentor also made it clear that I should say if I feel that I have not been sufficiently supported by her, as it is her job despite the fact that she is "busy with other things" (this to me seemed like her own acknowledgement of the fact that she has neglected to support me).  I do not feel that I have had any support as we have only had one very brief meeting and I do not feel comfortable approaching her, let alone asking her for help; I am worried that whatever I say will reflect badly on me and my own responsibilities towards professional development.

    She has implied that she does not think that I will have made progress towards any of the standards, and keeps saying that I am in "a serious situation as I am failing" (although, as stated I know this cannot be true - I have not said this to her).

    I have also been told that I need to compile an NQT file of evidence like I did during my training year (again despite everything that I have read on the TES forums suggesting that this is not necessary) and that I will be assessed against the evidence I have in there and on her formal observations of me only.

    I am desperate to leave and if I could afford to resign tomorrow I would.  I am struggling enough with what is going on in my personal life without having the additional stress of feeling that I am unwanted at work.

    I am tempted to go to the doctor and get signed off with stress as I do not know how much time my parent has left, and I am struggling to sleep and eat as it is.  But I don't want to let down the children and really want to see the year out with them, as it is my first class and I have been with them since the start of the year; but at the moment I feel very very down and struggle to put on my happy face most days.

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    Your situation makes me SO angry. In how many other professions would the fate of someone who has trained for at least 4 years be left in the hands of someone who needs to have NO formal or recognised training to mentor? The very fact that an NQT who is deemed to have failed can NEVER teach again should ensure that only the most capable and committed teachers are allowed to take on the role of mentor and should be 100% sure of the legalities and responsibilities of Induction. NO teacher should have to feel threatened or intimidated in this way, fed lies and half truths and effectively forced out of their job despite having not been given the mentoring to which they are legally entitled. My union sent me a book that set out very clearly the obligations of the school, the mentor and the trainee during Induction and I am fortunate that my school are very capable and fulfilled this and more. You, however, have been badly let down and I would strongly urge you to get in touch with your LEA and union. As far as your personal situation goes, I wouldn't hesitate to be with my parent in this circumstance, no matter what school I was in, and in yours, I'd feel I owed them nothing. What a heartless and callous bunch. Your mentor sounds like my PGCE mentor, always eager to point out how little time I was entitled to and ensure I got not a minute more. I do hope that you are able to find a solution that you are happy with. Please speak to your union asap. LCS
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    LCS thank you for your response.

    I have spent a stressful weekend getting all of my evidence together in preparation for my review this week and trying to prove that I am trying to progress as a professional by adhering to the (slightly ridiculous) success criteria on my NQT action plan.  I know that I must complete this first term at the very least otherwise I will struggle to secure a post elsewhere, as schools will question why I didn't complete the term (add to this a lacklustre reference...) and this will not look favourable on my CV.

    I'm going to just grit my teeth and get through the review meeting, then take it from there with regards to contacting the LEA and union.  I do have a few points to raise in my defence:
    1 - That my PPA/NQT time has not been regular, PPA has often been cancelled and NQT time has been sporadic; and when I have been recompensed with this time I have sometimes been told on the morning rather than in advance; then needing to spend more time explaining things to a cover teacher and not being able to do much with my time due to not having my files etc with me.
    2 - None of the paperwork has been explained to me.  I have compiled a file of evidence (as per my mentor's requests) against the 41 core standards, however once I had done this to my satisfaction cross-referencing all of the evidence I came across the NQT Q standards - it has not been explained to me which standards I should be using (although my action plan is against the core standards, as were my observations).
    3 - I have not had regular monitoring or meetings with my mentor; obviously this has not helped me to find her more approachable (and vice versa, because she is so unapproachable I have not felt confident enough to request time) to check my progress.

    I'm most frustrated by the misleading information that I have been given (to be told that I'm failing when I know this cannot be true), and the total lack of professional encouragement and support ("maybe you've had second thoughts about your career direction?") not to mention the downright disrespectful and ignorant attitude towards my personal life.

    Thank you all for taking the time to compose your responses - It is hard to know if I'm simply being unreasonable in my expectations as I have no other experience of being a teacher/NQT.

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     Firstoff, you neither pass nor fail the first term - it is a term conpleted. The school must prepare a report as to whether or not you are 'at risk' of failing and, if so things have to be put in place, e.g. action plan, targets, success criteria and support (not just more observations) e.g. extra training.

    If you are leaving anyway, then I would advise that you engage your union to help you with a negotiated reference which does not destroy any future job opportunities - if the majority to observations have been satisfactory with just a few in the unsatisfactory - then there is no reason to destroy6 a career. Different schools suit different people.

    The Sage

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