This week I was pleased to be invited to join the Camden NQT graduation online celebration, where we were joined by the class of 2019/20 to raise a virtual glass in appreciation and acknowledgement at the end of their first year as NQTs. It has been a strange and very bizarre first year for this cohort of NQTs, not only dealing with the range of demands from a first year in a challenging and exciting job, but somewhat rudely interrupted by a pandemic that changed the landscape from everyone’s perspective. NQTs along with our wonderful schools, have all played a considerable part in providing the care and provision to children from critical workers and vulnerable children, as well as the wider opening to more year groups as the summer term progressed. In a blink, our NQTs have had to grapple with the new norm, who would have thought that back in September we would be obsessed with bubble formation, know exactly what PPE was, be familiar with the new world of Zoom, Loom and Google classrooms, as well as seriously consider and plan for a recovery curriculum to enable rapid learning regain.

Whilst many local authorities have ceased to offer a training programme for NQTs, Camden Learning continues to offer a well-established and successful programme delivered by its member schools. The programme has been delivered as part of our school-led improvement model, practical and focused professional development. We recognise that for those gaining QTS through the School Direct unsalaried or PGCE routes, teachers starting their NQT year in September 2020 will not have had as much classroom experience as in more normal times, and may never have been responsible for a class on their own. Similarly, those completing the NQT phase in Summer 2020 will have had a disrupted chunk of time, coinciding with the period when they would have received a great deal of support and mentoring, whilst they have gained the confidence to try out new things in the classroom. Recently Qualified Teachers (RQTs) from September will be able to access specific training and will be integrated alongside the NQT programme where applicable.

School is going to be a daunting place for both groups in September and so they deserve special consideration. The suggestions attached, provided by Margaret Mulholland (Appropriate Body), Kate Frood and Joy Morgan, provide an outline as to how schools might support NQTs and RQTs, so I hope it is helpful. Finally, my thanks go to the above mentioned and also Paranie Sivachandra and Victoria Green, for not only planning and delivering the programmes, but also for their tenacity and oversight to keep the training going virtually over the summer term, thank you on behalf of everyone.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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