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Supporting your NQT

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Following her Summer Tips for NQT Success blog series Helen Morgan returns with more NQT tips, this time offering advice to those mentoring an NQT through their first year in school. Below Helen offers some key tips for mentors and speaks about how rewarding the role can be.

What can you do to support your first year NQTs?

As we approach the start of the new academic year, many of you will take on the role of NQT mentor for the first time. In a system where increasing numbers of teachers leave the profession within their first five years, there can be few greater responsibilities. However, some mentors take on this role year after year, and they will tell you that it is perhaps the most rewarding job you can do.


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Mentoring provides an opportunity to shape the next generation of teachers and support them on their career path. It allows you to share your experience and develop your professional knowledge and skills in a practical and meaningful way. In many cases, mentoring an NQT marks the beginning of your own leadership learning and development.

For mentors new to the role this helpful checklist will enable you to support your NQT professionally and effectively:

  • Listen carefully to your NQT and respond to their needs and concerns in a positive and practical way. Make time each week to sit with them and discuss their progress uninterrupted.
  • Respect your mentee; having recently undertaken their training, they have a great deal to offer a new school. They may be new to the profession but often they will have broad and rich range of experience and expertise that they bring to the role.
  • Time is precious in school so make sure that meetings with your NQT are focused and purposeful. Set SMART targets that strike a balance between quick wins and longer term growth and development. Make sure that they are written down and shared to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings.
  • Know the Teachers Standards and model them in everything you say and do. Professional credibility is built on the Standards and they provide a strong backbone for teacher effectiveness.
  • Look after the well-being of your NQT, encourage them to join colleagues at break and lunchtime and feel part of the team. Help them to prioritise what is important and manage their time; moving to a full timetable is a big step and can be overwhelming.
  • Remember that the purpose of monitoring activities is to support development and progress. Always find the positives and present issues as opportunities for learning.

As a mentor, it is often easy to underestimate the influence you can have on an NQT in terms of shaping their career. Although it can be time-consuming and challenging, you have a real opportunity to make a difference that will benefit your school and students. Talk to other mentors in school to build your knowledge and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your NQT lead if necessary.

We look forward to sharing more tips about how you can support NQTs as we progress through the year. Good luck!

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