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NFER - Tests for Years 1-6
NFER - Tests for Years 1-6

“Dear NQTs” – A Welcome Letter From Your Friendly, Slightly-Controlling And Data-Driven Head

Ready to face your first class with enthusiastic ideas and a creative curriculum? The Fake Headteacher has something to say about that...

  • “Dear NQTs” – A Welcome Letter From Your Friendly, Slightly-Controlling And Data-Driven Head

Dear Newly Qualified Teachers, congratulations on your new job!

You won’t be that boring teacher you remember at school. You’ll be different. Your methods will be hip and trendy. You’ll think outside the box and spend hours creating innovative and engaging lessons.

Perhaps the TV adverts attracted you to the role. After all, they promise inflated salaries, and suggested that the five children in your class will be impeccably behaved. They showed that lessons are fun and the rapport between the teacher and pupils excellent. Perhaps they motivated you to want to plan original and interesting lessons for your new class.

You probably already have lots of great ideas for your display boards that will enthuse learning, and are looking forward to marking work in a way you feel will motivate pupils to feel good about their efforts. You probably have exciting, fresh new topics that you want to introduce too.

You must be so, so excited, because after all of your training and hard work you’ll soon be allowed to independently plan, teach and nurture your very own class. The feeling is almost overwhelming, but the responsibility of choosing what and how to teach is what makes the job so rewarding.

Maybe that’s how you came to be an NQT.

Now for a reality check.

Due to my incessant drive for consistency, I will tell you exactly what to do.


These are already planned for you. The senior leadership team have spent hours writing long-term plans. You may find some of them uninspiring, as they do drag on a bit. But you can’t change them. Sorry.


You must not deviate from our strict six-week rolling program. We have already decided the genres you will teach because it has to fit into our long-term plan. Learning journeys in books must show good progress for Ofsted, so don’t dip into some random writing lesson reacting to local news or unusual events, it makes the books look disjointed.

I have selected books from a reading spine list for whole-class texts. I have allocated you six books to read to the class. You are not allowed to read any of your favourite books because they might not be ‘quality texts’. Please don’t deviate from the list even if the books on it provide little inspiration.


Maths must be taught using the scheme we bought. Not everyone likes it, but you’ll need to follow it religiously. Also, you must use the resources and textbooks that accompany the maths scheme – we spent a lot of money on them. Do not deviate from the scheme even if you don’t like the lessons.


Every class must has been given the same six displays covering set subjects. Use these. You don’t have a choice. I’ll carry out learning walks to ensure my display policy is followed. I will even tell you what colours to use and how to mount work.


I use a three-page book scrutiny checklist to ensure conformity. You will use certain coloured highlighters, pens and stampers. You will be expected to type up and print learning objectives for every lesson. Children are not allowed to write their own titles (saving you hours of time each week).

When you talk to a child, I will expect a verbal feedback stamper to be used to prove you spoke to them. Most of how and what you mark isn’t for the pupils anyway – it’s for observers, and also to satisfy my obsession for consistency. I will scrutinise your books regularly and give you written feedback.


I will meet up with you every half term to ensure all children are making excellent progress. If they are not progressing, I will put pressure on you to ensure they catch up in afternoon intervention groups, thus missing out on the wider curriculum you know they enjoy.

Even though I dictate how I want things done, you’ll be held fully accountable for your class data. In addition, please ensure you have evidence for any professional judgements you make (eg film a child counting in 4s, or write down everything children say in guided reading instead of actively and attentively listening to and engaging in their comments). I have a problem with trust.


You’ll be exhausted after the first few weeks because I’ll expect you to be as good as an experienced teacher from day one. Your data and books will need to look identical to theirs. It’s all about consistency. Everyone has to be the same. I can’t afford for Ofsted to pick up on any inconsistencies in data.

After a while, you’ll find working 50-60 hours a week a strain on your friendships, relationships and general wellbeing.

I will do my best to ensure you get the non-contact time you’re supposed to receive, but I can’t promise.

Good luck.

Fake Headteacher

Read more from the Fake Headteacher at headteacher-newsletter.com or on Twitter at @FakeHeadteacher.

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