The Goverment closed its consultation on ‘Strengthening Qualified Teacher Status’ last week. The consultation is an attempt to improve the training and mentoring that teachers get once they achieve ‘Newly Qualified Teacher’ status and spend their first year as a full-time teacher (their NQT year).
Why is this important? Well, there are two very important and related reasons!
The first is that many NQTs move from a highly supportive environment at a university or training school where they spend a lot of time thinking about teaching to a school where the focus on the day job pushes out anything that isn’t directly related to the class in front of them. The second is that the drop-out rate of teachers at this stage is too high and growing – around 13% according to this research.
The Government consultation contained three suggested areas – an extended induction period, more structured early career content, and stronger mentoring provision.
Done properly, these changes will make a major difference – but could be expensive. However, technology like our LessonVU video coaching solution can both help cut costs and improve the quality of development. We can help with all three areas…
1. Stronger mentoring provision – a challenge for many schools is providing high quality subject-specific mentoring, especially if the teacher is in a small primary school or small department in a secondary school. We’re already working with one university to provide remote support in this area – allowing NQTs to share their lessons for constructive feedback with experts many miles away while school-based mentors focus on settling the NQT into the school. There’s also far more opportunity for peer-mentoring, with NQTs working in school- or trust- wide groups to share their best practice. And if things start to go wrong, schools can bring in external coaching support remotely, from experts like our own Dr Sean Warren.
2. More structured early career content – it’s vital for NQTs to be able to see best practice from experienced teachers. However, finding a suitable time for the NQT to watch the right year group while someone covers their class can be difficult and many need an expensive cover teacher. Videoing lessons with a portable camera is often seen as a good alternative – although this can tend to produce unrealistic ‘show’ lessons often focused only on the teacher and affected by the presence of the camera and operator. LessonVU’s unobtrusive fixed 360-degree camera allows schools, trusts and universities to build up a ‘bank’ of high quality but real lessons that also allow NQTs to look around the classroom and focus on both teacher delivery and student response. Working together with other schools this bank can grow to cover a wider and wider range of topics and classroom techniques.
3. Extended induction – if NQTs are to spend two years before achieving Qualified Teacher Status, it become more likely that they or their mentors will change schools – but perhaps stay within the same trust or move to a school that works with the same university. In these cases LessonVU would mean lesson observations could be shared and the same mentors involved.
Put these three ideas together – and we offer what Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds had in mind when he made a speech in January – technology that enhances teachers’ abilities in the classroom, rather than threatening their status.