Headteachers play an important role to a newly qualified teacher. Alongside supervising bodies, headteachers are usually responsible for the professional development of those in NQT jobs throughout an induction period and for verifying that they have met the standards set forth by their induction programme.
This does not necessarily mean that a headteacher will be hovering over a newly qualified teacher at every single opportunity, but it does mean that NQTs and headteachers will form a particularly close working relationship throughout their induction year.
What the headteacher does?
Headteachers must provide an induction programme that follows government specified guidelines. Newly qualified teachers cannot be simply thrown into the deep, they must have a regulated workload that ensures they are able to live a healthy professional balance and that their personal needs are allowed to be met.
During this time, headteachers are not able to delegate any of their personal responsibilities to newly qualified teachers to any other body other than various training objectives, which can be assigned to an induction tutor and must be identified by the headteacher before that begins. Upon completion of the induction, headteachers will gauge whether or not newly qualified teachers have met the requirements set forth and rule if they are deemed fit to teach.
The headteacher is usually assigned as the induction tutor to a newly qualified teacher, but rarely do they take on this role and some teaching unions like the ATL advise against this wherever schools have the resources to nominate an induction tutor. This is because the relationship becomes one that is strained when teachers eventually complete their induction programme and can no longer rely on the headteacher to perform some administrative duties or provide more thorough advise where possible.
Headteachers are also in a particularly compromised position where recommendations are being made for failing a newly qualified teacher from their induction programme, as they will be required to observe teaching and review any recommendations made by external sources.
It is clear that headteachers and NQTs need to remain impartial to one another so that fair, accurate and honest assessments can be made. This can be difficult as headteachers are involved in the induction programme on a day-to-day basis.
This does not in any way mean that headteachers will never perform the role of induction tutor and will assume such a role should concerns be raised by the nominated induction tutor, but in most cases headteachers tend to take a more silent approach and allow newly qualified teachers to develop themselves and only oversee any problems or concerns that they or the nominated tutor are experiencing.
For the most part, induction programmes tend to go by smoothly and without any major issues. However, if there are problems present during the induction process, then newly qualified teachers are advised to contact a teaching union as soon as possible.
Any professional disadvantages need to be dealt with accordingly and unions can often step in to make recommendations for the current situation. They may advise headteachers to allocate the role to another department or may clarify responsibilities to the newly qualified teacher on behalf of the headteacher.
The most important thing that NQTs can do for themselves is to maintain professionalism amongst their colleagues at all times. Since these factors will be taken into consideration during the assessment phase, it is usually best to maintain an amicable relationship between all parties during the assessment process.
This does not in any way mean that teachers should become dependent on their superiors. Rather, they should take it upon themselves to deliver lessons as they would, as someone who has qualified status and only lean on their induction tutor(s) for advice where required.