Direct Teacher Blog
My NQT Year in the UK
If anyone had of told me that moving to the UK and teaching there as an NQT would be the greatest decision of my life, I would have laughed at them – but now I whole heartedly agree that it was.
After my four years of studying to be a teacher in the Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin, I secured myself a place on the MA of Religion and Education course. This would have meant that another year would have been spent studying and living in Dublin. Quite frankly, four years was enough for me and I knew deep down I craved a bigger challenge. I called the college and resigned from the MA and within two weeks I was living in the UK and on the road to completing my NQT year in a wonderful school in the heart of Maidenhead, a commuter town west of London.
I had heard that there was potential to climb the career ladder quickly in the UK and if you secured a permanent job or covered a maternity leave with a full timetable, you were guaranteed to complete the full registration requirements of The Teaching Council of Ireland and receive your QTS! I knew that this opportunity was going to be next to impossible if I had of stayed in Ireland. While this was extremely pleasing and made all of my hard work worthwhile, the most attractive part of teaching in the UK were the social opportunities that came with it! I met so many new people, some from home and some from Canada and Spain. I learnt about other cultures and ways of life and got to experience the dazzling lights of London with young, vibrant teachers like myself – as well as venturing around the cobbled streets of Oxford which oozed with history, exploring the rugged landscape of Wales which was only a few hours’ drive away and spending one too many weekends in the neighbouring city of Paris. From developing a prospective career, networking with fellow teachers and further exploring the cities of Europe, I had many reasons for wanting to teach in the UK.
My first year teaching in Maidenhead passed in a kaleidoscope of learning curves, joyous teaching and learning moments and lessons I have learnt for life – inside and also outside the classroom. I had heard that teaching in the UK was extremely difficult and not many could stick it out and being honest, I was determined that I would not be another Irish teacher who ran home with their tail between their legs whenever an obstacle was placed in front of them. I knew that my first year ‘out’, as they say, would be challenging but I also knew that it would be rewarding and would be worth every bit of hard work and graft I put into it. So that’s what I did. I observed experienced teachers, I asked my HoD questions about marking books and assessing students work to see what progress they were making; and if they weren’t making progress, how I could challenge them and steer them towards producing more insightful answers both in the classroom and at home. My school was filled with helpful and positive members of staff who reached out and encouraged the NQT’s in the school to ask for help, guidance and advice and reminded the few of us who were there that every teacher has to go through their NQT year and when it has been completed, the hardest part of your early career is done!
The experience I had in my school in Maidenhead undoubtedly provided me with the foundations I have as a teacher today. I learnt how to maximize my prep time planning lessons and marking books and minimize my stress by implementing effective and fair behavior management strategies. I also established a Harry Potter Club which encouraged students to get to know me as a teacher in the school. Upon volunteering to do lunch duty once a week, I began to learn student’s names, their cliques and their behavior towards one another – this proved extremely helpful for pair work and seating plan arrangements as the year progressed.
When my NQT year came to an end, I decided that I had gained enough skills and experience to move into East London where I began to teach in an all-girls school. London provides so many social opportunities for young teachers and allows them to have a healthy and varied work-life balance where they can pursue their dream position and also have fun filled, adventurous weekends – whether that be in London or in the European cities that are no more than hop, skip and jump away!
Speaking specifically about the benefits of teaching in London, I can confidently say that I have learnt so much about myself as a teacher and my approach to education and the wellbeing of the pupils I am teaching. Behaviour management is a focus point in the UK schooling system – teachers are expected to greet students at the door and line them up before proceeding into the classroom and I can say from ongoing experience that it is one of the most effective strategies a teacher can use as it focuses pupil’s towards their lesson for the next hour. It also sets a standard and an expectation of good behaviour and a willingness to learn from me and from their classmates. My subject knowledge in my subjects of Religious Education and English have increased massively which in turn has improved my questioning skills and my ability draw answers from students, mainly steering stronger students towards being stretched and challenged by the content presented to them.
I am now planning my big move to the UAE where I will teach for the next few years. Teaching in the UK has given me confidence in my professional ability and had provided me with the opportunity to relocate my career to a different part of the world, knowing that I will be a strong and experienced teacher.
I strongly advise all young teachers who are interested in teaching in the UK to contact DIRECT TRS and begin planning their move to the UK today.