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NQT Diaries Part 2: The First School Trip, Children’s Discrimination and Behaviour Management

Now reaching the end of their initial term, Teach First trio Holly, Sophie and Joe are still being surprised, frustrated and delighted by life in the classroom...

  • NQT Diaries Part 2: The First School Trip, Children’s Discrimination and Behaviour Management

In the second of a five-part series we document the year of three fresh-faced teachers ready to make a big difference. Read Part 1 here.


Sophie Hemery

“I can’t deny I was shocked when children in my usually kind class shrieked and cowered, while others laughed and shook their bodies”

Year group: 4
Favourite subject: English and geography

As a teacher in London, I think a lot about discrimination. Largely, I consider the prejudice my pupils might face in society, and the empowering potential of education. But this week I’ve taken another line. Can children themselves be prejudiced?

While discussing the recovery position in PSHE, I mentioned that I have epilepsy. I can’t deny I was shocked when children in my usually kind class shrieked and cowered, while others laughed and shook their bodies, like electrified cartoon characters.

A similarly hostile (and giggly) reaction ensued in another conversation, when I explained that boys might love pink and dolls, and that girls can be footballers.

Unlike disability and sexism, racism is something they ‘get’ – every time it is discussed in class, racist attitudes are met with ridicule. Can we ‘teach’ children to accept difference and embrace equality? If we understand ‘teaching’ in a holistic sense – guiding, talking, understanding, role modelling, and empathy – then yes, I think we can.


Joe McCloskey

“I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to tick everything off my to do list”

Year group: 5
Favourite subject: English/MFL

It’s the end of the first term and I really cannot believe how quickly time has flown! I was expecting to be living on ready meals and Pro-Plus by now, but I am maintaining some work-life balance.

I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to tick everything off my to-do list and I have learnt to be much more efficient with how I spend my time.

Behaviour management is no longer a primary concern and I can now have much more fun with my class.I couldn’t have had this light and shade with my kids two months ago without fear of chaos reigning.

All in all, I am really happy with how my first term of teaching has gone. However, I am ready for the Christmas break!


Holly Cuthbert

“I underestimated how stressful accompanying 30 children on public transport would be”

Year group: 2
Favourite subject: Science

This month I experienced my first school trip as a teacher.

In the lead-up to the outing, I was getting as giddy as the children about a day out of school and bringing in a packed lunch. In my excited state, I did not consider why my colleagues did not feel quite the same as me, and why I was the only one to offer to go on the trip twice.

I now realise that school trips are not the same for child and teacher.

I underestimated how stressful accompanying 30 children on public transport would be, the sheer panic I would experience watching my class standing in a room in a stately home filled with fine china, and how fast my heart would beat when I incorrectly did a head count.

Bring on trip number two – 90 children, one train, two tubes, and a living nativity at London Zoo!

To continue on the NQT Diary journey click here to read Part 3.


Learning to lead

Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme (teachfirst.org.uk) is delivered across England and Wales.

Through the support of universities, schools and Teach First, the programme offers participants a two-year teacher training programme in schools exclusively serving low-income communities.

Sign up here for your free Brilliant Teacher Box Set

Help your students succeed in secondary English / Get your free download Top tips for teaching secondary English / Download your free CPD

Find out more here >