Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have been settling into hundreds of schools around the country over the past two weeks. Some of them will have left already. Sometimes the reality is harsher than their expectations and nastier than their wide-eyed hopes could bear.
Hope is at hand.
Shawn Sodsbury announced in the village pub that he is setting himself up as a guru, consultant and professional adviser to work with NQTs.
Shawn stepped down from teaching last July at the end of thirty-five years of mundane toiling in classrooms across two schools within a five-mile radius of here.
He lives in the village with a lazy one-eyed cat, a hamster he forgot to take back to school at the end of the summer holidays last year and several colonies of spiders whose webs sparkle with dew at this time of year.
Pete the Mouth forgot the rule in the pub of not questioning bores and asked Shawn what experiences qualified him for the job of NQT guru. ‘All my years teaching’ Shawn snapped back.
Pete wisely withheld any further questions but Shawn pressed on. ‘I was an NQT once. I have seen many NQTs come and go over the years. I have spent all my time in a classroom carefully avoiding the lure of promotion to be a senior manager sitting in a cubby-hole office, segregated from the regular teachers. I will show these unfortunate NQTs starting out on the mountain climb of a demanding career what they should do to survive their initial plunge into the stormy waters of education and schools.’
Shawn mixes his metaphors and beats around the bushes when he is talking. It comes from years standing in front of captive audiences where he was expected to fill the measured intervals with noise and distractions.
Meeting a wall of indifference Shawn pressed on. ‘Tell me what qualifications the Secretary of State for Education has for her job? She went to a comprehensive school. I went to a grammar school. She didn’t see a school after that until she was made top cat for schools and then someone walked her round the corner to show her what a school looked like. My years of tireless dedication in the classroom give me a rich seam of experience that will meet the needs of any NQT.’
Many were surprised that he applied the words ‘tireless dedication’ to himself. Shawn never displaying a spark of enthusiasm for anything other than sitting in his cottage doing nothing as often as he could.
‘Just wait and see,’ Shawn concluded. ‘NQTs will be queuing up to milk my experience before you can say “Everyone sit down and open your book at page 57”.’
In the corner of the bar, young Eddie Murgatroyd whispered to his dad, ‘what’s an NQT?’ Keeping his voice low so as not to encourage more speeches from Shawn, his dad told him, ‘It means a young teacher who is Not Quite There yet.’
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