Very poor NQT

(44 Posts)
TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 07:22:23

Oh dear. We employed this NQT in July as a sudden replacement for a member of staff who left very suddenly. It was so late when the advert went in, we only had one applicant (I am head of department.) He seemed pleasant and he is a lovely young man.

He had to teach on interview, of course - his lesson started reasonably well and then just disintegrated into no structure, no plan, no sort of objective or aim. It was, if I am honest, a really awful lesson. I voiced my misgivings to the headteacher but the NQT interviewed well and so we decided to give him a years contract. The NQT had given the impression it was a one off poor lesson and I believed him!

However I observed him on Friday and the lesson was terrible. Again, the problems were identical to the initial lesson - no plan or structure, no challenge whatsoever to the children, behaviour was poor (and this is year 7 4 weeks into the term and they were shouting out and being silly.) I gave the lesson a '3' -requiring improvement - but really it was a 4, I just didn't want to totally crush him.

I went through the main areas of concern in his feedback - poor behaviour, lack of structure and aims that were task led (and didn't reflect on the subject area either, things like 'make a Greek mask' for an English lesson) and he accepted this. I had texts later on though apologising or his poor performance and telling me he is better than a '3'. Again it just seems too reminiscent of his interview!

Support wise so far I have arranged for him to observe me teach and also observe outside of the department. I also plan to make planning a priority on our weekly meetings but there's just so much support he needs - where to start! It wasn't as if it was a good lesson that went wrong in the delivery (we've all had those I think!) it was just a really poor lesson!

Any advice?

mycatoscar Sun 29-Sep-13 07:31:58

Would you have time to team teach with him or even plan a few lessons alongside?

Also you need to be honest with him, it's not kind to give him a 3 if it was a 4.

If ofsted come and observe him he will end up totally crushed as they won't be kind and give him a better grade than he deserves. And I've not even mentioned the damage he could do your school and the children's education which I'm sure is your other main concern too.

Don't drop hints through staff meetings, give him it straight and offer help with what was wrong.

Mendeleyev Sun 29-Sep-13 07:33:58

What's the SoW like? Does it include aims for every lesson that he can use as a starting point? He needs to be planning solid 3 part lessons to try to get some structure in. Maybe plan a plenary task first and then work out other activities to help students develop the skills to be able to do the plenary.

Is there anyone in the dept that he can sit with to plan? Just so he can see what to do? How did he pass his PGCE year? Unfortunately some people just cannot do it. The fact that he keeps saying I'm better than this rings alarm bells that he may not listen to what you have to say. If the next lesson is a 4 next time, you've got to give it to him straight. You're not doing him (or you) any favours by giving him false hope.

Good luck!

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 07:44:46

I agree, but I didn't want to absolutely crush him and in fairness he was shaken enough after the 3. It was quite hard finding ANYTHING positive about the lesson at all to be honest.

His PGCE course described him as an 'outstanding practitioner' which I am cynical about - the two poor lessons I have seen plus the fact he didn't have a job in July, don't suggest this to me at all.

He is keen and enthusiastic but I suspect can "talk the talk" rather than actually do anything really constructive.

I'm not sure about team teaching - had it done to me before when I was struggling with a difficult class and I found it undermining as the children kept asking why Sir was in the room! Could be a possibility.

I don't think he has the required subject knowledge is my real concern, keeps referring to stanzas in the poem as 'paragraphs' in front of the children! Argh!

FunnyLittleFrog Sun 29-Sep-13 07:51:33

I feel for you..! It's a tough one and as a HoF I have dealt with a few of these. If the will is there most teachers can become a '2', it just takes a bit of time and modelling of good practice.

I would start with lesson planning. Do you have a school / faculty proforma lesson plan and exemplars so he can see how a good lesson hangs together? He needs to start with establishing the learning outcomes and identify the steps the students will take to get there. Sounds daft but I had a teacher who went from 3 to 2 once he really got this. He used to say things like 'I want them to listen to this song, then draw the images it creates in their minds, then write a poem' and I'd ask him why? what are they learning? He needed to start by thinking 'what do I want them to learn' not 'what do I want them to do'.

It may help him to have a bank of verbs he can use to help him set out learning outcomes - identify, apply, evaluate, compare etc - if he uses them it means whatever he does will be learning related.

In terms of challenge, does he know where the kids are now and what their targets are? Has he access to data and does he know what it means?

Good luck!

Mendeleyev Sun 29-Sep-13 07:53:41

Ooh what's his degree in? The PGCE course sounds a bit suspect if they have described him as outstanding. Are you sure he is not actually a science teacher? wink

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 08:02:07

Frog, thank you, I think that will be really helpful and a good starting point from which to focus our first meeting on.

It is strange - I imagine the college just wrote brilliant references for everybody wanting them to get jobs! grin Truth be told if it had been up to me I would have out the ad in again and hoped to have got a better field but obviously it wasn't up to me!

It's frustrating as the department have a very high level of needs and I currently have four members of staff who need support! Hard work!

chibi Sun 29-Sep-13 08:12:39

are you mentoring him? whoever is needz to be mercilessly honest (but supportive) so that he either improves, or you have a paper trail flagging up the fact that he is not good enough.

getting someone on slt to do a joint obs will help.

you do not want a situation where you focus on tge positives to spare his feelings, and he gets only marginally better (if at all)

good luck, i have been in this situation, not fun

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 08:38:26

Hi, I just want to explain I am not focusing on the positives to spare his feelings - there were few positives I could even comment on to be honest.

However, our lesson plan format for feedback does ask for strengths and I couldn't leave it completely blank. I stated he had a nice relationship with the children and the lesson showed a lot of effort regarding resources. That was it!

My real concern is that fundamentally I don't feel he understands the subject well enough to teach it.

chibi Sun 29-Sep-13 08:45:39

if there a real concerns, make sure you are sharing them- i worked with an nqt who was known to be weak, but no one ever really said anything

i observed this person in the last term as a favour to the mentor and the lesson was shockngly bad. because no one had said anything, it was too late to establish this person formally as being inadequate, and so they passed. they moved on of their own accord, out of teaching but it would have been a terrible disservice to students had they stayed- this person may have got the hang of it eventually, but how many classes would have made little progress in the meantime?

i wasn't trying to get at you, just saying that you need to be very careful how you go, you could be stuck with a bad teacher at the end

neontetra Sun 29-Sep-13 08:54:55

I would agree with FunnyLittleFrog - it sounds like he hasn't grasped that lessons need to be objective-driven. I have worked with so many staff like that - it is fixable. More so, I would say, than poor classroom management, which in my experience can be very hard to fix, as it can stem from fundamental aspects of the teacher's personality. You hint that his behaviour management is poor - do you see this as a key issue for him, or do you think it may just be a symptom of the poorly planned lessons?
Re the subject knowledge, somewhat controversially I am going to assert that, as long as his literacy is good and he is willing to find out about new topics he teaches beforehand, and use your departmental schemes of work, this shouldn't be a major issue in English, at least up to KS4. I've been a head of English myself, in a couple of challenging contexts, and some of my best English teachers were bright, talented non-specialists.

Arisbottle Sun 29-Sep-13 09:04:06

I suspect he needs to focus on classroom management and use the department's schemes of work and lesson plans if you have them.

I agree most people can be a good teacher with the right training.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 09:09:45

If you have 4 members of staff who need support, then you need help from outside the department. Some good teachers from other departments. Have you talked to your line manager?

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:13:04

I hope so.

The tasks in themselves were poor as well, though - it wasn't just 'do this' it was 'you have twenty minutes to write a couple of lines!' He had the children reading out work at the end and none of them had actually followed the task.

Classroom management was poor because of school systems not being followed - I think that is fixable. I'm really more worried about the fact he doesn't really seem to know what the pupils should be doing or why.

Sorry - I am just a bit stressed, we have a department with a high level of needs and I am therefore going to have to provide the support for him alone, along with the 33000 other things I need to do!

englishteacher78 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:13:12

The implied lack of subject knowledge concerns me. It can lead to a lack of security which students sense making classroom management very difficult. Has he tried using know, understand and do to aid his planning. I also found the old all, most and some for what he expects them to get out of it.
I do have concerns about teacher training in some places. We've had some awful candidates who have passed SCITT, and (not stealth boasting - this still affects my confidence) despite being told I was rubbish and nearly being failed I have consistently got 1s in observation.
It sounds like he will need lots of support. Do you have another department member who is good at these skills and is looking for career progression? Mentoring would help them bothgrin

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:14:02

Madonna, yes, SLT are supportive but well, what can you do? Everyone is so busy. I have a plan in place to try and ensure staff are supported but its knackering!

Arisbottle Sun 29-Sep-13 09:15:56

In my experience it I unusual to have 4 members of staff in one department struggling ? I agree about looking for hell outside of your department, is your department representative of other departments in the school? if not why is your department struggling ? Often teachers start to lose their way when extraordinary pressures are there. is your school asking too much of its staff so that they are trying to everything and therefore achieving very little.

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:16:46

Yes, know understand and do is a good way of going about things. Thanks smile

I just feel horrible about it. Thank goodness he's got a one year contract!

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 09:16:53

You don't have to provide the support alone. When I was struggling owing to a high needs department, my NQT had a mentor from outside my department. I provided subject specific input, but I was not on my own. Similarly, your school should be helping you with your other staff. Especially as you are English!!

Arisbottle Sun 29-Sep-13 09:18:12

Do you have a member of staff who oversees NQTs or staff training? They should be involved.

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:18:45

Arisbottle, I don't want to say too much for fear of being identified but the problems in our department go back years, well before my arrival (September 2011.) The school is a lovely one and doesn't ask too much of staff at all.

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:19:46

Yes, the link member of SLT is involved. We are meeting on Tuesday to put together a plan of action.

I am also pregnant at the moment and am conscious I may not see the year out!

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 09:21:34

X post all over the place! What school can do is help you by providing teaching mentors from across the school, for all your struggling staff. You provide the subject specific input. Ideally, it would all be subject specific, but it is unreasonable for you manage it alone.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 09:26:15

And x post again. Your NQT should have a different mentor then for sure, as you will be going on maternity leave. And your department has to be a massively high priority for SLT.

NomDeClavier Sun 29-Sep-13 09:30:08

Actually someone outside the subject, like a science specialist where planning for practicals is absolutely crucial, might help him address certain issues. Is there anyone in another department who wants to get some mentoring experience and you can pair them up?

It does sound like your department is sinking rather and it's hard luck on this NQT who sounds like he really, really needs support to become a decent teacher.

BoundandRebound Sun 29-Sep-13 09:33:37

I think you need an honest talk you need to tell him you struggled to give him a 3 and that on OFSTED terms it would have been a 4 ask him where he thinks the problem lies and check his self awareness

Then you need him planning and giving you lesson plans in advance, following behavioural policies and team teaching because you're letting down every child in his class and there will be impact on their other classes

You need this documented well because he sounds like he isn't cut out for teaching and you'll struggle to get rid

Arisbottle Sun 29-Sep-13 09:33:44

SMT need to get involved because you have four teachers whose poor teaching could be preventing young people from getting that job, college course or sixth for, place. You also sound like you need some support .

Arisbottle Sun 29-Sep-13 09:35:43

I think rather than having him planning lessons it would work better to have him using the department plans - is every member of your department planning their own lessons? He can use those as a training tool to help him be things right.

TammyandJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:51:01

A programme of trios or quads, possibly observing other staff and unpicking their teaching, then collaboratively planning a lesson and each teaching and unpicking that will show weaker staff what the features of a good lesson are and how to plan for good learning. It needs to be done time and time again along with collaborative planning as a dept but it is transformational for staff, non-threatening and manageable for you as you just set up and monitor the coaching groups. You can use any good staff in your dept, if they're m6 or ups it could be an appraisal target to help bring other staff on. If you're low on consciously good staff slt should be keen to help and bring in ambitious staff from across the school. Pm me if you want to talk it over. Good luck

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 09:53:07

May I just gently say that I deliberately posted this here, rather than TES, as I didn't want to be given a flaming. Thanks thanks

Begin at the beginning. The department has actually done pretty well in terms of English (language) results - we exceeded our target for C and above, but that's the issue. Children get Cs who should be getting As or Bs. Lit results this year were dire (due to early entry language I suspect, the year 11s had the attitude that "oh well I have got my C, who cares about literature?' but also threw up serious concerns about two members of staff in particular who there have always been niggling doubts about (prior to my arrival) but these results really threw them into focus. Then there is one other teacher who has been on the verge of capability for years and still is. Then there is this new NQT who has tipped the balance. I was against employing him from the start, but we have him now so have to try to make the best of it.

Help will be provided for him elsewhere but what I posted for was for useful things I could do or say in our meetings and have had some - thank you thanks - but the criticism directed at me is unfair. I didn't employ him or the others for that matter. The only one I DID employ is an excellent teacher.

I have no intentions of announcing my pregnancy yet, it is very early days. I won't be going off until May half term assuming I have a healthy pregnancy.

englishteacher78 Sun 29-Sep-13 09:57:56

Oh dear lord! What an awful situation! I'm so glad I teach where I do.

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 10:00:40

Excuse me?

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 10:01:54

I'm not criticising you at all. I am cross on your behalf! I have been a HOD in a struggling department and sorting it out practically broke me. I needed help from elsewhere, and fortunately got a great line manager who worked with me to make things better. If you were forced to take on someone who is inadequate against your better judgement, that is a bad start! I do worry a bit about the one on the edge of capability for years. This is where your line manager needs to be stepping in.

TheMoonInJune Sun 29-Sep-13 10:07:55

No,I know you weren't, don't worry! I just a bit very sensitive at the moment - a bit stressed out! I hate being in the position where I know I am the reason people don't want to come to work in the morning, if you see what I mean!

I have implemented some things, which have been a success, but in a department of seven which used to be three weak and four strong, the balance is now tipped the other way, and, one of my strong teachers has gone part time.

SLT are lovely - hence my response to englishteacher. Really lovely. Too lovely, sometimes. They certainly won't bully anybody out or make unfair or unreasonable demands on staff but the point is that someone still has to pick up the flack, and it's me!

Arisbottle Sun 29-Sep-13 10:13:58

SLT aren't there to be lovely - not all the time anyway.

With the removal of the spoken element English are going to have a tough ride this year, you need to get things right as soon as possible and that you is not just you but the senior team.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 10:18:33

Then SLT are not doing their jobs properly, to be blunt. By not acting, they are placing unreasonable demands on you.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 29-Sep-13 10:24:38

Best thing that ever happened to me as a HOD was to be challenged by a line manager who then went to considerable length to support me in driving through improvements.

englishteacher78 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:29:14

Just that my department are lovely wasn't criticising just being glad that I haven't been put in that position.

Ehhn Sun 29-Sep-13 10:40:06

I think the biggest issue with this NQT is subject knowledge. If he was teaching badly the correct information that would still be better than teaching badly AND incorrectly the core basics.

I think this NQT needs to have a test on basics i.e. literary terms, analysing a poem to highlight points that he needs to revise/learn.

Also if the department is under pressure, could he not be given lesson plans to follow? It would save everyone time and give him a format for good practice.

I would also get someone else to observe the NQT to give support to your analysis.

EvilTwins Mon 30-Sep-13 17:53:21

Subject knowledge needn't be an issue if he is following dept SOW & using dept resources. If planning is an issue, have you tried (do you know of) the 5 minute lesson plan - might be a good way to get him to focus on what needs to be done. I have an NQT in my dept and the development plan we have had to write is pretty specific and detailed - have you/he had to do this? Bottom line is that as long as you have evidence of your support, then no one can question/blame you if things continue to go badly & SLT ought to escalate it.

Eggsiseggs Sun 06-Oct-13 10:29:04

Poor you! Fellow Eng HoD here, you have my sympathies!

Eggsiseggs Sun 06-Oct-13 10:47:29

Oops - posted too soon!

I agree that you need to be straight with him. A list of targets, how to meet them, and what support he can expect is your next step, I think.

- meet with him with a list of things that were wrong with the lesson. Then 'show' him the correct process of the bigger picture (step A: look at all current levels and targets of the kids. Step B: look at the outcome of the unit and plan lessons backwards, etc etc before it gets on to the actual lesson plan)

Lots of NQTs have a focus on planning a lesson, rather than planning for progress over a period of time.

Is there another good/outstanding teacher who could team up an help him plan? What about him observing other people's lessons, not just yours?

We also have the resources to film lessons for coaching. Absolutely amazing the impact this has had with one member, as she identified her own tone/pace, etc without me having to point it out all the time!

Will post if I think of more. Sounds like you have a heavy stress load at the moment - and that's without Mr Gove being an asshole...grin

ProphetOfDoom Sun 06-Oct-13 10:47:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Phineyj Sun 13-Oct-13 18:41:42

Just wanted to second the suggestion to find a strong teacher from any other subject to mentor this guy. I was mentored in my first year by a colleague who knew nothing about my subject (had not studied it at all ever) but she was the most fantastic mentor. You can treat the teaching/behaviour management issue and subject knowledge issues separately.

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