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Supporting NQTs with their workload

In this exclusive #NexEdBlog Faye Heming uses her 20+ years of experience to cover 5 top tips to help NQT’s manage their workload more productively.

Over the past few years I have been devising and delivering training courses for small groups of newly qualified teachers who work within 20 miles of each other to help them refine their practice and more importantly build up a network of support.  The reason for this was because when I was an NQT we had the opportunity to do this and I am still in touch with some of these teachers….23 years later!

To cut costs some Local Authorities gather together over one hundred NQTs to deliver training and I do not believe this is right way to support them. So many teachers are leaving the profession due to workload issues, so surely it is our duty to do everything we can to support, train and care for newly qualified teachers.

I have listened to numerous NQTs talking about the negative impact of their workload and it occurred to me that no-one shares strategies to help address this. Below are a few tried and tested tactics:

  1. Set a time limit for tasks and stick to it. Work tends to expand to fill the time available for it, so grab a cup of tea, stick a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your classroom door and sit down for 45 minutes at the end of the school day to prepare for the next day.
  2. Batch tasks so you are more efficient with your time. For example, save phone calls to parents and carers until the end of the day when the children are at home – this is guaranteed to keep the phone call short! Put all the items you want to photocopy in a file and copy them at the same time – this strategy also works for filing.
  3. Stay single minded and focus on one task at a time. Teachers have many things to do and this can lead to procrastination, therefore nothing gets finished or everything feels rushed. Once you’ve started one task, stick at it until it is finished then move onto the next one. This will ensure you use your time efficiently.
  4. Use a task management matrix or ‘to do’ list. A simple, daily list of things to do may help to keep you on track. However, Stephen Covey extolled the virtues of a task management matrix as it helps you to prioritise tasks and work in a more efficient way.  
  5. Make your own resources. This may appear to increase your workload, but I know from experience how long teachers spend trawling the internet for a suitable worksheet for a lesson. In many cases it would be quicker to make it yourself, then you have a template which you can tweak for other lessons.

Most importantly, building up a network of teachers to talk to, share the load and offload to is crucial.  Teachers have many responsibilities and these all add to our workload. Analyse which aspects of your workload are time consuming, e.g. assessing, planning, marking, preparing resources, dealing with behavioural issues, and ask your colleagues to share their strategies – you might find there are some excellent solutions out there.

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The author

Faye Heming is a former Headteacher who now works countrywide as an independent education consultant, trainer and school improvement partner (School Support Solutions Limited). She is passionate about professional development opportunities, regularly devising and delivering courses for NQTs, middle and senior leaders, providing practical strategies to support teachers in their quest to ensure the best possible outcomes for children. In addition to school improvement work, Faye provides confidential support to headteachers and senior leaders to help them maintain their own well-being. She is an active member of the National Headteacher Support Organisation and is currently the vice-president of the Gloucestershire branch of the NAHT.

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