Luckily, you have induction to help you, but is it set up and working well? I say that because I am continually amazed at the misunderstandings that abound about rules that have been in place for six years - and not only among newly qualified teachers but headteachers, induction tutors, local authorities and training institutions.
The most worrying misunderstandings surround what happens if new teachers fail their induction year. Heads, induction tutors and newly qualified teachers have all been guilty of common sense notions that are entirely wrong. People think that failing newly qualified teachers get another chance, are given an extension or don't get qualified teacher status. They think it only happens if a newly qualified teacher does something really awful and that you have to be really rubbish to fail.
So, listen up, people who fail induction in England are de-registered from the General Teaching Council, which means they can never be allowed to teach in maintained schools or non-maintained special schools again: they cannot retake induction. Not all those who have failed are complete disasters - some have suffered from being below par at schools with high expectations of teachers. They would only be able to teach in an independent school or work as a private tutor, but qualified teacher status - what people get when they pass their initial teacher training - isn't taken away. The General Teaching Council hears appeals but the process is complex and harrowing. Extensions are only allowed in special cases such as being absent for more than 30 school days, and these are awarded by the "Appropriate Body".
Few people know who their appropriate body is, let alone how important its role is and the fact that it decides who passes and fails. Induction tutors and newly qualified teachers alike mistakenly think it's the General Teaching Council or Teacher Training Agency or its successor, the Training and Development Agency. All people undergoing induction have to be registered with an appropriate body: someone at the local authority or the Independent Schools Council Teacher Induction Panel.
Membership of the General Teaching Council - statutory for all state school teachers for some years now - causes heated debate. Many new teachers simply don't know if they're members, which probably means they're not as registration requires a form and direct debit to be filled in. Some remember posting the application but have heard nothing more.
Induction tutors can really help in your first year but if they don't do their job properly they can scupper your chances of success because they have the day-to-day responsibility for your monitoring, support and assessment. Unfortunately it's you who risks never being able to teach again if you fail induction - nothing happens to induction tutors who don't do their job well. They're not just mentors, there to help if the need arises. Everything they need to do is detailed in the induction section of www.tda.gov.uk but in summary they should make sure that you and others understand everything about induction; set objectives for your development throughout the year; organise an individualised induction programme of monitoring, support and assessment; help you use the timetable well; co-ordinate the half-termly observations of your teaching and follow up discussions; review your progress every half term; and write an assessment report every term.
So, make sure that your induction entitlement is set up right from the word go. Save the induction circular to your computer's fav-ourites (www.teachernet.gov.uk/professionaldevelopment/nqt/induction/guidance). Induction exists to help new teachers get off to a good start. If it's not working well do make a fuss, in the most professional way possible. It's your duty to develop into the best teacher you can be - you'll be doing all your present and future pupils and colleagues a huge favour.
The writer trains new teachers and induction tutors. Her latest book is 'Helping Teachers Develop' (Sage/Paul Chapman, £15.99).
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