NASUWT New Teacher Seminar - November 2011
Every year the NASUWT run free seminars for new teachers at key strategic times in the academic calendar. The first seminars take place in August of every year across the UK and are aimed at those new teachers that have just qualified and are about to enter into their first teaching position, training teachers due to qualify from their course in 2012 will be able to apply for the August 2012 seminars on-line shortly. The second seminar takes place in November of every year and those new teachers who have completed their first term of teaching usually attend this seminar. The third seminar takes place in June of every year towards the end of new teachers first full year of teaching.
On Saturday 19 November 2011 the NASUWT ran a new teacher seminar at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in Birmingham. The seminar brought over 120 new teachers together from across the UK, most of which had qualified earlier in 2011, many of the teachers present had just completed their first term of teaching, some were undertaking supply work, although some present had yet to obtain teaching positions.
Content of the seminar
The seminar was opened with a key note address from the NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates. As the seminar coincidentally took place the day after the NASUWT's ballot result around members taking a day of strike action followed by on going action short of strike action was released, the General Secretary's address was largely focused on why the NASUWT had balloted for action and what the implications would be for new teachers,. The General Secretary also highlighted the fact that if the Union stood by and did nothing in the face of a raft of cuts and reforms to the education system, new teachers would face impacts on their ability to teach in the longer term.
The General Secretary also reported that newly qualified teachers have shown their support for the NASUWT’s ‘quiet revolution to reclaim the classroom’.
Taking action is not selfish or self interested, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, told members at the event in Birmingham, but is about maintaining and safeguarding working conditions which enable teachers to focus on teaching and learning.
Acknowledging that some NQTs may feel nervous about what for most will be their first experience of industrial action, Ms Keates urged them to stand up to protect their status as skilled and qualified professionals.
“You will be asking no more than your contractual entitlements” she said. “Those are provided with very good reason. As NQTs you need such provisions to enable you to become confident professionals. The best schools recognise the benefits of supporting new teachers and recognise they need working conditions which enable them to gain appropriate experience.”
Many members at the seminar reported that they were unable to find a permanent post in which to complete their induction year, with many having to resort to supply work. Others are being employed on temporary contracts.
The NASUWT believes this undermines the ability of new teachers to make a supported and confident start to their teaching careers and is continuing to campaign for all new teachers to have a guaranteed placement to complete their induction year, as is the case in Scotland.
The afternoon session consisted of 4 optional workshops, with the most popular workshops running twice, the workshop sessions aimed to cover a wide range of topics that would enhance new teachers skills, knowledge and add to their CPD. The workshop titles and presenters were;
- Managing behaviour in the classroom: Moyra Healy;
- Voice care in the Classroom - Jackie Roxborough;
- Winning that teaching job - John Howson;
- Understanding and managing stress – Kevin Armstrong, Policy and External Relations Manager, Teacher Support Network
The feedback from the day was extremely positive, with many new teachers expressing their desire to come on the next NASUWT new teacher seminar that is taking place on 23 June 2012 in Birmingham. New teachers will be able to book on to this seminar shortly.
Feedback from the seminar
New Teacher members taking part in the seminar took part in wide ranging discussions about how their first year of teaching was going so far, an overview of some of the discussions is provided below;
What has gone well so far?
- most positive experiences came because of positive relationship built up with colleagues and the support received from those colleagues;
- many participants detailed their induction programmes as going well, which was put down to a good structure to the induction programme, well informed mentors and constructive feedback.
What has not gone so well?
- lots of participants mentioned a lack of support including a lack of support from the leadership team;
- lots of participants also mentioned excessive workload and the lack of work life balance as a cause for concern;
- other major problems that new teachers had encountered included, the behaviour of some pupils, problematic relationships with parents, excessive observation of their performance and the lack of permanent teaching positions.
When participants were asked for one way in which the induction process could be improved, the main suggestions were;
- more permanent teaching positions being available and supply work counting towards induction;
- a more structured induction programme, and greater consistency between the ways induction programmes run from school to school and region to region in the UK.
Finally participants were also asked what support they would like to receive from the NASUWT;
- increasing the amount of networking of new teachers through the NASUWT;
- more personal contact from the Union from workplace based reps;
- the Union continuing to campaign for a guaranteed induction place fro newly qualified teachers.
The feedback from the NASUWT New Teacher seminars is vital fir helping to direct the way the Union continues to organise, support and advise new teacher members. All the feedback from November 2011's seminar is fed into the continued work of the Union and new teachers will hopefully reap the benefits of this work in the longer term.