NQT been given a class I don't think I should have been and now not meeting standards

(23 Posts)
gl88 Wed 12-Mar-14 19:41:46

I could really do with some advice on this one. I started at a school in a tough area in Jan, contract is for two terms. I inherited a year 5 class from a member of the management team who moved to a different year group.They were tough, kids kicking off, strangling each other, not listening, slamming doors, refusing to do work, fights breaking out.

I began to suspect very early on I shouldn't have been given this class as an NQT. Ofsted came in my second week and the head told me they questioned why an NQT had been given that class. I also had other teachers say they didn't think I should have been given them.

It was picked up I was struggling with my planning, so I was given support by the year 6 teacher as she is the only person in the school with experience teaching year 5. I have also met once with an outside consultant who was hired to help all the year groups.

I had my second formal obs on Monday ( I didn't realise it was a formal obs, I just thought she was coming to provide me with some feedback as I had asked her to) and got told by mentor I'm not on track to meet standards. She and the head want to meet next week to decide on an action plan.

I'm very doubtful this will work tbh. The class have generally chipped away at my self confidence and my enthusiasm and passion are gone. My mentor said she can tell I've lost my sparkle and I'm literally just getting through day by day, counting the hours, this is how bad it's got. I said that I have been giving everything up until recently and what happens if I have nothing else to give? How can I improve my teaching then?

She also today, said that she had her reservations about giving an NQT that class.

This is where I'm becoming unstuck. My head and heart says leave before Easter, before my confidence takes anymore of a kicking. But I want to raise this point about my class - that several experienced people have said that I shouldn't have been given this class as an NQT because of their behavioural issues. If I decide to get my LA involved and get my school to recognise that I shouldn't have been given that class, I feel that will make a difference not only to my confidence, but also to my standing in the local teaching community. What I mean is, if I go for another job, and it gets heard that I left before my 1st term, surely it will be thought of as differently by potential employers if it is recognised that I was given a class I shouldn't have been.

Sorry for the rambling. Does anyone have any advice on this issue?

Hobnobissupersweet Wed 12-Mar-14 22:26:41

I would say do not leave before your contract or year is up. The local teaching community ( if such a thing exists) will not suddenly think better of you if go in for a fight with your employers.
I am not disputing you shouldn't have been given such a difficult class, and the school should know not to give known hard classes to an NQT, but it is hard to see how you will end up coming out of it well if you escalate the matter ( sorry )
PS have a wine

Technical Wed 12-Mar-14 22:35:09

Yes, sorry, I agree with Hobnob.

It might not be "normal" to give an NQT a tough class but with proper support (as all NQTs should expect) there should be no reason why an NQT can't manage that class just as well as anyone else. AFAIK there are no "rules" about the kind of classes that should be given to an NQT, so the school have done nothing wrong. There's nothing for you to complain about unless you feel you haven't been adequately supported.

If that's the case, complain about that, not the children.

Ruprekt Wed 12-Mar-14 23:03:12

Can you try and sort the behaviour of the class with proper sanctions in place for bad behaviour?

Ask for extra TAs.

Reward the good.
Punish the bad.

Low tone voice. Ask for Head to support you if you send kids to him.

gl88 Wed 12-Mar-14 23:10:13

Thanks for the replies. I've been told that as an NQT, you shouldn't be given a class that will present you on a day-to-day basis with discipline problems that are unreasonable for the setting and that I should state this to them from the induction handbook.

I would like to just get my head down and get on for the next few months but my confidence is so rock bottom now I doubt that is possible.

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Mar-14 23:37:04

What do you think your chances are of passing your NQT year if you continue with this class?

You only started in January, so you won't have a full year with them anyway, but if they wreck your confidence, is failing a possibility? If you fail, you will never be allowed to teach ever again, so cutting your losses and running early might be the wiser decision to protect your teaching career, even if it doesn't look that great on your CV. One term and an 'I wasn't getting the support I needed to pass my NQT year' might be easier to explain than two terms and a cause for concern.

kiwiscantfly Wed 12-Mar-14 23:52:17

This happened to me in NZ ten years ago, I was teaching at a middle school and had a class of 33 eleven and twelve year olds. Because the children all came from other schools the school got the mix wrong and I ended up with a truly awful class. I stuck it out, kept asking for help and yes it was hard, so very hard. But, it made me a better teacher and I still remember many of those lessons I learnt that year. Good luck!

Janek Tue 18-Mar-14 12:16:56

Speak to your union. They will be able to advise you on whether you stay or go. It's true you only get one chance at your nqt year, so if your school is making a farce of it then you need to leave. You cannot do 'half' a term, so if you could leave now you would still have three terms of your nqt year to complete. Speak to your union.

gl88 Wed 19-Mar-14 17:28:22

Thanks for the responses, I had a meeting with my head and deputy last night and brought the union rep as he said it didn't sound like it was fair I was given this class either. My head refused to budge though and even when I mentioned about other experienced teachers and people in education saying I shouldn't have been given the class, she didn't respond. Coincidentally, one of the people who said this to me was sitting in the room, but said nothing and I, being either stupid or nice, didn't want to drop her in it.
Today however, my rep sent me a letter he'd drafted, and in it he named the member of staff who had said that to me. He also mentioned that there were issues in the class in the autumn term, BEFORE I started with the same class. When I questioned this, as this was the first I had heard, he disclosed that another union member had been to him in the autumn term with issues about the same class. I'm pretty certain it was the old teacher (who is also my mentor) who has now moved to another year group.

Surely the fact that an experienced teacher had such problems with the class that they felt the need to go to the union means the class should NOT have been given to an NQT?

NancyJones Wed 19-Mar-14 17:47:17

This happened to me in my first year of teaching. It was the sheer lack of support that was an issue as I had done my PGCE in Manchester and my final practice in a very difficult part of Salford. On paper, this was a far less challenging school than I had just qualified in but instead of a staff that worked together and a HT who recognised the challenges and thoroughly supported her staff, I had one who thought we should just all get on with it as part of the job. The swearing, violence and literally constant low level disruption wore me down to the point of exhaustion and after seeing my GP, I told them 2wks before Christmas that I wouldn't be returning in the January. They went mad, told me not to expect a reference etc but I was so overwhelmed I would have chosen to walk away from the career than see out the year.

Anyway, come January I joined a few supply agencies and worked hard until Easter when I started going for interviews. I simply lied and said that I'd only done bits and pieces in the first term and had only really started in January. The two agencies each gave me a glowing reference and the school that offered me the job was one where I had done bits and pieces of supply that term. I started in the September and never looked back. I was amazed at the difference in the level and quality of the mentoring and support. I was actually given my non contact time each week and allowed to watch other lessons which helped me grow in confidence and the following year I received a glowing report from Ofsted.

So perhaps, as you only get one shot, you could leave and supply next term. This will build your confidence back up and hopefully give you a much better chance of both a reference and of passing your NQT year.
Good luck!

Mrskeylime Wed 19-Mar-14 17:58:04

This sounds awful. Your management team are not supporting you at all are they?

I don't know what I'd do in your position. If you can afford to go on supply where work isn't guaranteed it might help you to get into a better school?

I wouldn't worry about the 'teaching community' though. The school aren't going to want to advertise the fact that they don't support their NQT's.

wonderstuff99 Wed 19-Mar-14 18:03:32

I've pretty much made up my mind I will be leaving at Easter (they have said they will release me if that's what I want), especially after yesterday's meeting. A lot more went on than I want to actually say on her but let's just say some people's recollections are a lot different to mine of what was being said.

My main concern is though that it will be said that I left because I couldn't handle them. Which is partly true. But at the same time, if an experienced member of the team couldn't handle them, how could I?? I guess I want that to be admitted, that they made an error putting an NQT in there.

Mrskeylime Wed 19-Mar-14 20:48:27

'My main concern is though that it will be said that I left because I couldn't handle them.'
They won't put that on your reference. It doesn't matter what the staff at the school think. They all know the truth about why you have left whether they will come out and say it or not.
I hope it works out for you. Lots of teachers find a school that really suits them through doing supply.

Finickynotfussy Sat 22-Mar-14 14:16:53

Something similar happened to my DSis and she left (before she was pushed). Your wellbeing is more important than your 'reputation' and hopefully you will be able to complete the remaining term elsewhere.

wonderstuff99 Sat 22-Mar-14 14:37:54

Do you mind me asking finicky how it effected her future employment chances? As in did she struggle to get interviews considering she left a position?

Since I last posted it has come to light that in the autumn term,before I started,another union member went to the union to raise concerns about the class. The person teaching them in the autumn term was my mentor. Surely if an experienced teacher had such issues that they needed to go to a union,it was clear the class wasn't suitable for an nqt.

I have a meeting on Thursday with the head,hr and union rep and my rep feels very strongly they shouldn't be let off the hook (his words) over this. I feel the same,I just dont know if i can get them to agree

wonderstuff99 Sat 22-Mar-14 14:40:01

Sorry,HIS future employment!

sashh Sun 23-Mar-14 09:16:22

Surely if an experienced teacher had such issues that they needed to go to a union,it was clear the class wasn't suitable for an nqt.

That may well be true, but the school are not going to admit it and you keep saying it, you sound (sorry to be harsh) whiny.

I have had a class from hell and no back up from management, I know it happens, but what matters to future employers is how you dealt with it, and sometimes leaving is the right way to handle things.

I don't say that I should not have been given that class, I say there were issues that I was unable to resolve, that the matter was referred on and still not resolved, also that another member of staff also struggled with the same group and that it was in the best interests of the pupils to have a different teacher and my best interest to leave.

KinkyDorito Tue 25-Mar-14 07:16:01

I must be a glutton for punishment as my attitude would be that I would want to show them all that an NQT could come in there and actually make an impact with a class where other, more experienced teachers have failed.

There will always be the difficult class. Cultivating some techniques to try and deal with them will make you a much better teacher.

I agree with keeping your union involved and certainly look to move from the school; but I would be tempted to stick the year out and try some things. Use different methods to see what works for you. How would you feel if you managed to get a handle of them? So many teachers struggle with behaviour management - if you can get yours down, you will be a force to be reckoned with.

Try to look at them as a challenge rather than a burden. I know how tough it is, but if you view it in an experimental way as part of your learning process, you will feel better about going in each day to tackle them.

KinkyDorito Tue 25-Mar-14 07:27:09

The other thing to remember is that it has taken a long time for them to become what they are, so you need baby-steps to getting them more orderly. Set small, definite targets appropriate to what you are doing and lavish the praise and rewards. Catch them being good. Don't expect huge leaps of progress in a short amount of time.

I'm dealing with a difficult class atm, secondary so not all the time. I am now getting them to stay in seats for most of the lesson. It has taken me over six weeks to achieve this. Ofsted might not be impressed, but I am! These things add up. I'm fighting 10 years of conditioning to misbehave and they don't know how to learn.

Also, get as many spare adults as you can find in that room to help you. Get the Head to do some regular drop ins just to lavish praise on those on-task and being good.

It can be done smile.

Brae1991 Sat 13-Sep-14 09:20:14

Hi, I am in the same position as original poster nqt in year 5 with a very challenging class. Exact same behavior issues. 5 kids on IBPs.
I've always been told behaviour management is a strength but it seems to be a failure in this class.

I was with the class for a month before summer and a long term
Supply told me "I can't believe they've given THIS class to an nqt"
Basically, I just wondered where you were at now gl88?

toomuchicecream Sun 14-Sep-14 13:42:38

That's tough Brae. Can you talk to the person who had them last year about what did or didn't work? What sort of support have you got? Can you identify people around school you can go and sound off at/cry on?

It's so, so, so hard when you feel your class isn't under control as it makes you doubt everything. And of course, when you feel like you're battling behaviour the whole time, you feel like you're not getting to teach properly and then worry that the children aren't making progress.

What have you tried? What percentage/how many of the class are behaving? Can you reward them in some way so that you can keep the classroom atmosphere positive rather than continually having to pick up on negatives to get the children to stay in their seats? Needless to say, total consistency and the "stuck record" technique are essential.

Is there anyone you can "lend" any of your tricky ones out to? Just having a lesson without one or two children can make life seem so much more manageable. Can you persuade anyone from SLT to come and teach a demonstration lesson for you so you can see how they handle the behaviour?

And remember - it really does get easier as they (eventually) start to realise that you aren't going to give in. Gradually, the followers will stop following so you're left with the hard core, then you can pick them off one by one.

Can you think of 1 positive at the end of each day (either with the class, or on your own/with your TA if you have one after they've gone)? Maybe keep a list then you can look back on it and see what you've achieved.

Good luck - it can be soul destroying. But once you've cracked this class, you'll find every one you have after this easy by comparison.

Brae1991 Mon 15-Sep-14 19:54:08

There's 5 out of 18 that are on IBPs. Sounds like such a small number but it's extreme behaviour. Doesn't help when I have a mentor who questions why I've given out so many negative comments in one day (comments in planners). If I didn't follow the school behaviour policy that would be a negative - and when I do - it's too much. Every night I get questioned on why the behaviour was the way it was and I'm made to feel like it's completely my fault.

Their last teacher had the exact same problem with them as I was in the class for July of year 4. I hate to say it but I think it's too late to change some of these children.

phlebasconsidered Mon 15-Sep-14 20:15:56

It's not too late. I had that class last year! 50% of them were on IEP's and or / statements and or / SAplus with CAMS involved with a lot of them.

I had children walking out of class, fighting, literally climbing the walls, spitting, shouting obscenities, physically assaulting each other and on several occaisions, me. I took them over after two teachers had left since September, in January.

It took me 3 months to get them all sitting down!

By the end of the year, we were actually having nice lessons and nice days. It took total and utter consistency, lots of parents in, and sheer bribery. ( smelly stickers, a writer of the week, a mathematician of the week, a dude of the week, anything! They got sweets and a sticker.)

I felt like weeping for a full 4 months. No support, just criticism from above. The key point was when 50% of the class "came over". The middle ground, who were previously lost or followed the leaders, swayed the issue. Reward good behaviour constantly. But at the end of the day, they just wanted to know I was going to stick it, and that I liked them, just a bit. I find getting to know them, personally, sometimes works wonders. They love doing jobs, and it gives you a chance to find out about them.

I liked them by the end, even the worst ones. It's never too late at Year 5, ye Gods, imagine if it were!

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