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Diary of an NQT
Two down, one to go
THREE OF my classes have now turned into phrase. The reality is that it shows a diversity and
out and out revision sessions, and another two flexibility that are a necessity within the profession,
will be heading this way after the Easter break. so I will stick with that.
This gives me a bit of a break from my So far in my teaching I have good
normal planning as we are obviously experience of delivering a broad range
Reading the warning signs
covering topics that I have already of subjects, including religious studies,
delivered. history, PSHE, sociology, citizenship,
Back in initial teacher training, health and social care, and food
one of the main issues that I technology. A nice little set I feel.
worried about at transition point At the end of the day, it keeps more
two at the start of my induction doors open.
was my subject knowledge for I remember as I headed into my
what I would be delivering. further education that I was certain
I am sure many people would that one day I would settle down
think that holding a degree in one abroad. And one of the original
of your subject areas would make it appeals of teaching was that it is great
a breeze to teach, but it hasn’t been in aiding these opportunities, indeed it
all that easy. is a passport to the world.
My initial teacher training only Although this is still my long-
gave a breadth of subject knowledge term aim, I am very happy with
in citizenship. Although the topics where I am right now and it’s a
and schemes of work addressed great situation in which to hone
in the curriculum are not mind- my teaching style within a well
bendingly difficult, getting up to resourced and high achieving
speed with the extensive nature school, alongside a very
of them, and keeping on top of supportive department. It’s a great
it while doing all the other jobs environment to be in.
that come along has been hard to If I were just to specialise in one
balance at times. subject, I feel that I would end up sitting
At the back of my mind though, I know on my laurels, and not stretching myself.
that in the long term it will be a worthwhile After all variety is the spice of life.
I would say that citizenship is my “specialism” • This year, our weekly NQT diarist is Charles
as I trained in it, but really I am becoming a jack Aubeeluck, a qualified citizenship teacher who
of all trades – although I wrestle with the idea of teaches sociology and health and social care at
having to add “master of none” to the end of the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls in west London.
Moral support
Why robot?
AS YOU may have read a fortnight ago, my your operating system without losing the respect of
forthcoming departure from Teacher Support Network your pupils. They could probably do with some help
has caused me some anguish of late. Although looking from someone over the curriculum too: with a robot
forward to my next move and being content with the leading proceedings, I do worry that dance lessons
contribution I have made to the wellbeing of teachers would be a bit one-dimensional and retro.
during my time at the helm of the organisation, there Funnily enough, given the current emphasis on
is a nagging doubt that I will be moving on with too the recruitment of teachers from other professions,
much work unfinished. It’s a sensation common to this is not Saya’s first job. She has previously found
those in any profession who find themselves moving employment as a receptionist; a perfect candidate
on from a place to which they have become so therefore, were she British, for the recently
attached, but I worry that I’m laying aside the proposed, six-month teacher training plan.
standard of teacher wellbeing too many After the greetings I’ve received when
steps short of its destination, as too visiting some offices in London, I suspect
many teachers remain in needlessly Saya’s counterparts may have actually
poor mental and physical health. infiltrated the British workforce some
Such fears are always allayed by time ago. Nevertheless, Saya seems to
thoughts of the outright competence have made the leap into teaching quite
of the team around me – which successfully. They must have installed
range from our industrious some new patches; although in this
trustees to the most modest but case, presumably of the leather,
equally valued of donors. elbow variety. Maybe we should
My doubts are soothed by the all just pack up and go home?
knowledge that they will continue But in declaring the end
to fight for the benefit of teachers of Teacher Support Network as
well after my departure. However, inevitable because of the arrival of
a recent news item has ensured that any our new mechanised co-worker, I may
insecurity is not just alleviated by my be speaking too soon. Saya’s ability to
confidence in the drive and ability of interact with her class may be limited to
the organisation. My concerns are the range of activities that her creators
in fact entirely repudiated by the have programmed her to do, but her
revelation that Teacher Support interactions with pupils are far from
Network’s cause – along robotic. She is capable of displaying
with the entire body of the six distinct emotions: fear, anger,
developed world’s teachers disgust, happiness, sadness, and
– will soon be entirely surprise.
redundant. If the motorised imitants
The Daily Telegraph which will soon command our
reported recently on the classrooms are capable of imitating
latest creation of that most human emotion, Teacher Support
headline friendly of groups, Network will surely retain a role. Fear,
Japanese scientists: surely the anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise (and
ethno-professional faction which has occasionally, of course, heartfelt happiness):
given the most joy to all aficionados of these are the sensations that teaching inspires
curiosity over the years. After 15 years in those who use our services. Even well
of research, a robot is being trialled as after the last ever lesson is led by someone in
a teacher at a primary school in Tokyo. possession of a soul, the pressures of teaching
Saya, as the automated educationalist has will ensure that even educational cyborgs will need
been named by her maker, “can speak different the practical and emotional support that we offer.
languages, carry out roll calls, set tasks and make My time here may be coming to an end, but I’ll
facial expressions – including anger – thanks to 18 leave safe in the knowledge that our organisation is
motors hidden behind her latex face”. Surely it must well geared for the future: even well into the robotic
now only be a matter of time before robotic teachers era. And in this brave new world we find ourselves
– with their greatly reduced support needs – ensure hurtling towards, one of our most repeated pieces
that our charity can be scrapped and replaced with of advice to teachers will never seem so pertinent
an organisation providing for the needs of Saya’s – between classes, make sure you take a moment to
kind? Such a body would have to issue factsheets recharge your batteries.
on a whole range of new subjects, such as replacing
your own elbow joints during morning break without • Patrick Nash is chief executive of the Teacher
having to power down, and issue telephone advice Support Network. Visit or
on pressing new issues such as how to recover call 08000 562 261 (England), 08000 855088 (Wales).
when the Van De Graff generator interferes with Moral Support returns after Easter.
8 SecEd • April 2 2009
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