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NQT Diaries Part 5: A Class Shop, Observing a Private School and End-of-Year Behaviour

As the end of their first year comes to a close, our NQTs are getting the hang of this teaching lark, but in education there’s always room for new ideas, and nasty surprises...

  • NQT Diaries Part 5: A Class Shop, Observing a Private School and End-of-Year Behaviour

In the last of a five-part series we document the year of three fresh-faced teachers ready to make a big difference. Click here to read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4


Sophie Hemery

“The worst I usually had to deal with was a bit of not listening, a dash of cloud gazing and the occasional bit of finger-led nasal probing.”

Year group: 4
Favourite subject: English and geography

Just when you think you’ve cracked it….

Among all the teaching standards, I really thought that behaviour management was the least of my problems. In fact, my class seemed to be almost alarmingly cooperative.

In the staffroom I’d hear about constant distractions, chair throwing, swearing and all sorts of crimes and misdemeanours. But thank my lucky stars (my pupils), the worst I usually had to deal with was a bit of not listening, a dash of cloud gazing out the window and maybe the occasional bit of finger-led nasal probing.

How complacent I was. I can’t be sure exactly what changed the ambience of my classroom from largely calm to intermittently chaotic; numerous factors must be at play – end of term winding down, summer heat-induced mania, who knows?

But yet again, teaching has taught me. Nothing is constant, much less so when 20-odd children are involved, and learning and development are dynamic and endless processes.


Joe McCloskey

“I chose to observe in a great private school as I wanted an opportunity to get a bigger picture of the education system in Great Britain.”

Year group: 5
Favourite subject: English/MFL

This week, as part of my teacher training I have had the opportunity to observe and teach in two great schools – one was private and the other a state primary school.

Doing this towards the end of my first year in teaching has been a fantastic experience. Being educated at a brilliant state school myself, I chose to observe a private school as I wanted an opportunity to get a bigger picture of the education system in Great Britain.

Irrespective of the debates surrounding private and state education, these few days were a fantastic chance for me to observe new strategies and to reflect upon my own teaching approaches. On top of that, next week, I am off to France for a week’s residential trip.

I suspect the very last half term of my very first year in primary education will fly by, and that I will be meeting my incoming class on swap day before I know it. Hopefully, with a few new ideas up my sleeve.


Holly Cuthbert

“Now, after playtime I have an orderly queue of children waiting to enter the classroom, and they end every request with a ‘please’.”

Year group: 2
Favourite subject: Science

The end of the year is in sight and everything is getting easier.

My final assignment is done, and lesson plans no longer take hours. I’ve even been able to spend more time implementing creative learning activities.

One big success has been the class bank and shop, which we set up to support the children using money.

We’ve given them pots with their names on, and a list of things that will result in them receiving toy money, such as coming into the classroom on time, tidying up, being polite, and being resilient.

The children collect money all week and on Fridays are allowed to buy things in the shop. It has worked wonders. After playtime I have an orderly queue of children waiting to enter the classroom, they end every request with a ‘please’, and they are regularly counting their coins and becoming more confident at swapping bronze ones for silver.

It’s been so successful that it’s come at a greater-than-expected financial cost for me, as our shop has needed very regular restocking, but it has definitely been worth it.


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.

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