New Teacher Seminar - June 2012
The seminar was part of the NASUWT's annual programme of seminars for new teachers that starts with preparatory seminars for those new teachers that have just qualified for their teaching training, in August of every year, continues with a seminar in November of every year for those new teachers that have just completed their first term of teaching and culminates with a seminar in June of every year, for those teachers approaching the end of their first year of teaching.
The June 2012 seminar was held at the Jury's Inn Hotel in Birmingham, with over 100 new teachers from across the UK attending.
The delegates initially received a keynote address from the General Secretary, which covered issues largely in relation to the Coalition Governments continued cuts and reforms to education. Issues covered included Government plans to shift the majority of initial teacher training from universities into new teaching schools, their plans to remove the requirement of academy and free schools to employ teachers with QTS and the potential for their proposals for induction to water down the process. The keynote address also focused on the Coalition Governments attacks on teachers’ pensions, the national pay and conditions frameworks and the current Performance Management regulations. The address also covered the NASUWT's continued action short of strike action through its Standing up for Standards campaign.
A number of thought provoking topics were raised by the new teachers at the seminar in response to the keynote address in particular issues highlighted included;
• how can young teachers be encouraged to get involved in the Union;
• how young teachers are being undermined by management, in particularly relating issues such as managing pupil behaviour;
• how the austerity measures are causing problems for new teachers in their ability to gain meaningful employment;
• how there is no meaningful consultation around the process of converting schools to academy status, with particular concerns about lethargy amongst parents in relation to conversion of schools to academy status.
In the second morning session Gareth Young – NASUWT National Official (Campaigns and Communications) provided a detailed overview of the Governments education change agenda including changes to the current Performance Management regulations.
The third part of the morning session gave the participants the opportunity to discuss issues with each other, in particular what had gone well in their first year of teaching and what difficulties had they faced. Importantly in light of the Coalition Governments changes to the Induction regulations from September 2012, delegates were asked to add their voice to the NASUWT’s input on the impact of the changes on new teachers just starting their induction, by feeding back on how they felt the induction process was currently working well and could be improved.
The majority of new teachers taking part in the seminar relayed that the induction process could be improved by ensuring that mentors and and NQT’s had regular allocated time to meet and discuss how the individual induction programme is going. New teachers also commented that a lack of access to official out of classroom training made gaining some of the necessary professional skills and knowledge difficult.
Comments about lack of out of school training being available are in direct contrast to comments made by the seminar delegates on how the induction process is currently working well. In particular, delegates evaluated that their induction experiences were enhanced when they had a supportive local authority that provided training and resources. Other comments regarding positive induction experiences contrast with information relayed by delegates about the revocation of their rights as NQT’s. For example NQT’s commented that induction worked well when they had the opportunity to work with experienced teacher colleagues ad when they were encouraged by the Senior Leadership Team and their mentor to develop strategies as a new teacher.
However, one consistent theme amongst all of the groups that undermines both their experiences within their first year in teaching in general and in particular the validity of their induction year, is the lack of available teaching jobs in which induction can be completed in any feasible form.
It would seem from the feedback provided from the new teacher seminar delegates, that primarily the lack of available permanent teaching positions undermines the whole induction process in the first place. Juxtaposing issues related to available teaching jobs, the lack of standard practice amongst schools providing an induction programme also raises issues regarding the wide spectrum in the positive and negative experiences that NQT’s that start teaching in the same year have.
In the afternoon there were there were four workshops that ran twice simultaneously in order for delegates to get the opportunity to attend their two workshops of preference. Workshop topics included managing behaviour in the classroom, stress management, remaining safe when using social networking sites and a workshop and using the voice effectively in the classroom.
The seminar was highly successful with many new teachers showing a keen interest in getting involved in the NASUWT at this important time. For teachers that could not attend this event please bear in mind that the NASUWT runs regular regional and national seminars and events that are free to members of the Union NASUWT Conferences and Events.