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So you’re an NQT...what next?

So you have finally completed your initial teacher training, been given Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and now you are a fully-fledged teacher...right? Oh apart from that small challenge that is passing your NQT year. Once you have gained Qualified Teacher Status you become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) and will be expected to continue your training for a year before being given the green light and joining the fully qualified teacher club. 

Before embarking on the NQT journey, there’s plenty to get your head around and understand. So before we dive into the fun stuff, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. 

NQT Personal Statement 

First and foremost, when applying for teaching jobs, your personal statement will be one of the first impressions you make and will give the school an indication of who you are and why you might be suitable for the role. 

Before writing your personal statement…

  • Look for jobs on education recruitment sites such as or - some regions have specific sites for school job advertisements so make sure to look out for these. 
  • Top tip - make a list of all the schools you are interested in and look at their websites under vacancies/jobs to see if they are advertising. Cutting out the middleman and applying directly to the school can help give a good impression.
  • Take time to research the school you are applying to. Visit if possible (or in the current climate organise a telephone call or zoom meeting!) and become familiar with their school values and mission statement/ethos. It is just as important that you find the right school for you, and not just you fitting into the school's requirements.
  • Read the job specification carefully and take note of key requirements. 
Teacher working at the computer

What should it include?

Knowing what to include in your personal statement can be tricky, so we have compiled a handy list to get you started. 

  • We recommend that your personal statement is no longer than two pages of A4.

(If you imagine how many applications schools will receive, reading pages and pages of information about each applicant takes time! )

  • Start by describing why you would like to teach and the reasons leading up to this decision. 
  • Explain your understanding of what makes a good teacher and say a little about your own ethos and values. It might be a good idea to link these to the school’s values and draw comparisons.
  • Describe your key traits and why these make you a great teacher, make sure to link these to the person specification. 
  • Give examples of successful teaching moments, what went well, and why and the impact this had on children and their learning. Equally, you could give an example of a time where something hasn’t worked, how you dealt with it, and what you changed going forward. 
  • Refer back to the job specification and explain why you would make a good addition to their team. Make sure to mention your commitment to safeguarding children and your understanding of this.
  • Tell them a little more about you, what hobbies you enjoy, and how you spend your spare time. 

Buzz Words to include: safeguarding, SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability), relationships, teamwork, CPD (continued professional development), organised, honest, open, efficient. 

Finally, and most importantly proofread! Proofread yourself and, if possible, ask someone else to proofread too. Spelling and grammar mistakes do not reflect well on the teacher applying!

Happy teacher looking over her glasses

NQT Interview Questions/Tips

We all know that feeling in the pit of your stomach before an interview, but try to remember that you are just as much interviewing them as they are you. 

Here’s what you might expect from the interview process:

  • You may be asked to prepare and teach a lesson or a presentation. These can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour - you might be observed by members of the SLT (senior leadership team) and school governors. 

“Always stick to the brief you are given and if you have 20 minutes, keep it to 20 minutes. You can always talk at the interview about how the lesson might have developed further with more time, or how it fits into a bigger picture of learning…”  Mr T’s NQT Support. 

(for more from Mr T’s NQT Support, check out his twitter page!)

As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’. They seem like harsh words but oh so true. Take time over your lesson plan, thinking of what problems might occur and how you could solve them. If you can, practise your lesson out loud, making sure to pronounce any technical vocabulary linked to the lesson correctly. Have your resources ready and make sure to give a copy of your lesson plan to whoever is observing you. This shows organisation and forward thinking.

  • After the lesson, you will most probably have a sit down interview. This is where they might ask you how you thought the lesson went, what you learned from it, and what you could have done differently.
  • Schools may require you to do a small group task instead or in addition to teaching a lesson. These could be an unseen task, so be prepared to think on your feet!

A top tip from us at PBHQ is to take in examples/pictures of work from your placements.

“I always found it much easier talking from a photo...I wasn't reciting a textbook theory to the interviewers but discussing my experience in a more natural way”  Catherine Lynch, PlanBee 

Questions you may be asked…

  • How do you think that went? 
  • What makes a good teacher? 
  • Why do you want to be a teacher?
  • Why do you want to work at this school?
  • Can you give an example of a time you have been in a tricky situation with a child and/or parent? How did you solve the problem?
  • Can you give an example of when you have had a run in with a colleague?
  • What does it mean to be professional?
  • What could you bring to this school?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • If we were to go into your classroom, what would we see/hear?
  • How have you approached a safeguarding issue in school? 
  • In what ways can you keep children safe?
  • How would you plan to organise your time before and after school?
  • What makes a good lesson?
  • How would you make sure a lesson is accessible for all children?
  • In what ways could you use a teaching assistant to support you and the children?
  • What behaviour management strategies have you tried in the past? 
  • What are the current issues in Education?

 Remember, it’s ok to take a breath and have a moment to think before answering a question. You could even ask to come back to that particular question at the end to give you more time to think of an answer. So don’t panic if nothing comes to you straight away! 

Towards the end of the interview you might be asked, “Do you have any questions?” so make sure you have a few questions up your sleeve to ask. 

  • Schools may require you to do a small group task instead or in addition to teaching a lesson. These could be an unseen task, so be prepared to think on your feet!

So good luck! Be prepared and have confidence. Should you not get the job for any reason, (but we hope you do!) it may be an idea to ask for some constructive feedback. This could help when going through the interview process again. 

A calm organised teacher

NQT Support

So you got the job! Congratulations! After the excitement has died down and thoughts move to the year ahead, what can you expect in the way of support from your school? 

On your first day, you should be given a school induction whereby a member of staff will take you through safety regulations and policies, making sure you know who to go to should you need help. You should also be told who your NQT mentor is. This person will be your first port of call should you need any support throughout the year. You will also be assigned a tutor from the education body you are completing your training with. You will probably see less of this person than your school mentor, however, they will make appointments to come and see you, observe your teaching, and discuss your progress with both you and your mentor.  

You will be expected to collect evidence to support your meeting of the teacher standards, these are the minimum requirements for teachers’ practice and conduct, so get organised! You may be provided with a folder from your tutor or you may be expected to make one yourself. 

How many hours should an NQT teach?

 To support your development during your induction period, schools are expected to ensure you have a reduced timetable of no more than 90% of the school’s existing timetable of those teachers on the main pay scale. This is in addition to the standard PPA time given to all teachers. 

PPA or planning, preparation and assessment time is scheduled based on 10% of a teacher's timetable. For most, this equates to around 2.5 hours a week if working full time. NQTs should have a reduced timetable of 20% when including PPA. Click here to read more about government guidelines for NQTs.

Should you need to take sick days, your induction period may be extended to ensure you have met teacher standards. The government has recently changed guidance and currently advises that the induction period will not be extended where an NQT is impacted by Covid-19. 

A teacher supporting two pupils learning

What happens if you fail your NQT year?

According to the government statutory induction guidance, should an NQT reach the end of their induction period and not meet the teaching standards, they have failed their induction period and cannot be lawfully employed as a teacher.

 Occasionally, an NQT may wish to leave their school during their induction period. Should this occur, an interim assessment will be written by the headteacher giving an overview of your progress so far. You can choose to finish your induction period elsewhere, especially if you feel that you may need a different level of support. 

Don’t panic!

Don’t let this information scare you; the likelihood is that with the right support and encouragement you will pass your NQT year no problem. Make sure to keep in regular contact with your mentor and tutor to make sure any problems that occur are dealt with efficiently. 

 According to a study published by, the NQT failure rate over the past ten years was just 0.05%!

What will I get paid as an NQT?

The teacher's pay scale is revised annually and gives guidance on pay for all teaching roles, including that of an NQT. From July 2020, pay for an NQT range between £24,373 - £25,543 depending on where in England and Wales you live.

Life as an NQT

During your NQT year, it is more important than ever to look after yourself. Entering your NQT year at a time where people across the world are living a new version of normal can be daunting. Take each day as it comes and breathe, you can do this! 

For more on how to survive your NQT year, head on over to our blog, ‘How to achieve an NQT work-life balance’. For tips and ideas why not look at our NQT tips Pinterest board!

In the words of Bear Grylls…

“Survival can be summed up in three words. That’s the heart of it really. Just keep trying.”


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