How to Have a Great NQT Year

NQT classroom resources

If you’re an NQT just starting out in your teaching career, you probably have lots of questions about finding your first NQT job, how to thrive in your NQT year,  NQT time-saving tips and more. The good news is, there are lots of other teachers in the same boat as you – and guess what, that’s what you are now – an actual primary school teacher! Believe it, and you’re half-way there. Here at Mrs Mactivity, we are here to support you on your NQT journey and have a large range of resources to help you such as our free NQT time-saving guide and NQT classroom resources – we’ll talk about those more towards the end of this post.

NQT jobs

The first step in any teaching career is actually securing your first teaching role. A lot of jobs begin to be advertised for the September term around February time – so that would be a good time to begin looking – but don’t panic! Take your time. Don’t be tempted to get worried and upset if other people on your course or cohort start to secure roles. First is not always best. Have a really good think about the kind of school you want to work in and do your research, don’t jump in to the first job you see. Remember that it’s quite important to choose a supportive school with a good track record of working with NQTS and trainee teachers. Ask around – people know things! Knowledge is power, and the last thing you want is to end up in a school where you’ll be miserable. Jobs will continue to be advertised right to the end of August so there is plenty of time. If you don’t manage to secure a job, there is always supply work – which I think is a great way to “try before you buy” – plenty of people end up getting jobs in schools they have done supply work in. Remember, as an NQT schools WANT to employ you – they get extra funding for having an NQT and you’re also (sad to say) cheap to employ compared to more experienced teachers. You also bring a fresh perspective and new training and ideas to the role. Don’t underestimate your worth! You can look on your local council website to search for jobs, as well as checking on TES, and websites like Hays and E-teach. 

What to look for when you’re looking round a school

If you have the opportunity to look round a school before applying – take it up. Looking round a school before applying for a role is the perfect way to check out the inner workings of a school, and figure out if it’s for you or not. But what should you be looking out for to ensure it’s the right school for you?

– Do staff look relaxed and happy when you’re being shown round? 

– How do staff interact with the head teacher or deputy head? Is it a nice easy interaction or do they look scared?

– What is the school resourcing like? Do they have a good supply of equipment, is it in good working order? 

– Does the school look well cared for, clean and tidy – what are the toilets like?!

– Is the staffroom well maintained and well used? Do staff seem to get on with each other?

– Try to get a feel for the school values and ethos – do they align with your own beliefs? For example if you’re passionate about Continuous Provision – do they offer that? 

– Do they already support NQTs and trainee teachers – if so, how is this managed?

What is the NQT salary?

Teachers’ salaries are a little confusing as they vary depending where you are in the UK. NQTs in England and Wales would typically start on M1 of the teacher pay scale. From September 2021 the minimum a qualified teacher can be paid is £25,714 per year. There may be some instances where NQTs skip up a few rungs (that happened to me) if they have other paid work experience. That would be down to your individual school. The main pay scale for non London-based classroom teachers for September 2021 is:

Mini M1 – £25,714

M2 – £27,600

M3 – £29,664

M4 – £31,778

M5 – £34,100

Max M6 – £36,961

Fringe, outer and Inner London teachers have a different pay scale that you can find here

In Scotland, NQTs are called probationers, who are employed on a probationary contract on a salary of £27,498. In Northern Ireland, the minimum salary for NQTs is £22,243. Don’t forget that you can also apply for other roles as your career progresses such as teaching and learning responsibilities (TLR) and leadership roles, which will bring with them a rise in salary.

If you work in a private school or setting, the school is free to set their own salary, though most follow the main pay scale.

In years gone by, you would move up through the teacher pay scale automatically through each year of service – this is not always the case now, and you may have to demonstrate that you deserve to move up in a performance appraisal review. If however you have successfully completed your NQT year, then that should be a good enough reason to progress to M2.

Our top resources for your NQT year

All this may sound a little overwhelming, but don’t worry – you’ve got this! Never forget that you deserve to be where you are, and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Yes, learn from others, be humble, but stand your ground too when you need to. You know stuff, otherwise you wouldn’t have passed your course – that’s a definite.

We’ve got a whole range of primary classroom resources to help you make a success of your NQT year, here are our favourites! 

Get your teacher standards ready! We’ve created a beautified version just for you, to make your NQT folder look gorgeous. You will need to refer to these very regularly and collect evidence in order to pass your NQT year, so keep them handy!

NQT Folder - Teachers' Standards - Editable

Not sure how to set up your classroom? Try our classroom set-up checklist! We’ve thought of everything you need, and need to do ahead of the start of the Autumn term. 

Classroom Set-up Checklist

One of the most important things for NQTs to do when they start the new term, is to nail daily routines. Once these become ingrained, you can get on with learning, save time and hassle. Use our daily classroom routines checklist to get ahead of the game!

Daily Classroom Routines Checklist

If you’re going to be delivering phonics it can be a bit daunting. Your school may already have a phonics scheme that they buy into, or they may use a combination of a few different things. Check out the Mrs Mactivity phonics scheme for an easy to follow, hands-on phonics scheme that follows the Letter and Sounds framework. You can download our phonics scheme guide for free before you start.

Phonics Scheme Guide

Quite a few teacher training providers don’t fully cover what is required when teaching phonics, but don’t fear, we’ve compiled a complete guide to what phonics is, how to pronounce the sounds, a complete list of phonemes and more! Check out our phonics information pack here.

Phonics Information Pack for Phonics

Setting your first classroom up is one of the most fun parts of being an NQT. We’ve got plenty of classroom display resources, but we absolutely love our instant display packs – they make creating displays so easy and quick! 

make a wish display resources

If you want something SUPER special, we recommend checking out our gorgeous range with the lovely @katiesclassroom_ – Botanical Bliss! Delve into the botanicals with our relaxing and invigorating resource range to rejuvenate and bring freshness to your learning environment and bring joy to play and learning.

Botanical bliss display range

5 Top Tips for your NQT year

So – you know how to apply for jobs, what you’re going to be paid and what classroom resources you need – now for our final words of wisdom!

  • Remember you’re entitled to a life outside work! Stay connected with non-teacher friends and make time to do things you enjoy, otherwise you risk “burn out”.
  • Observe other teachers as much as possible.
  • Make use of the resource already within your school.
    Take advantage of all the training courses and CPD you can. The more you learn, the easier things will be.
  • Make use of sites like ours, do shared planning with other teachers and see what already exists at your school. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  • Connect with other teachers in the same position as you for support, shared experiences and just someone to have a moan with. Throughout your career, other teachers will be your lifeline.

Join the rest of the community and get access to thousands of high quality classroom and teaching resources



Don't Have an Account?

We love how @primarypurposefulplay  has used our alphabet road tracing activity!