Diary of an NQT: New stories waiting to be told

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Our NQT diarist’s year is at an end. As his year 11 students leave for the summer, he reflects on his journey with them and what lies ahead

The most nerve-wracking day of my NQT year was June 8 – the day that my year 11 students sat their final GCSE paper. This paper covered Britain, Health and the People and Norman England, curriculum content that I have taught them this year.

Their first paper consisted of the First World War and America 1920-1973, topics that had been delivered by their previous teacher.

Although I was desperate for my students to succeed in both papers, I was particularly invested in paper two due to the experiences my students and I have shared this year.

Prior to the exam, a few of my students had a bit of a wobble, struggling to get their heads around the finer details of the exam questions. History is particularly difficult as it involves the retention of vast amounts of knowledge as well as complex exam techniques for each individual question. This is the first year that our department has taught the topics covered in paper two and so we were also finding our feet with the content.

We worked relentlessly to prepare our students for both of their exams. We finished the course in early May, giving us plenty of time to consolidate our students’ knowledge and focus closely on exam skills. We also ran weekly revision sessions on Thursday afternoons, which were well attended. Whenever a student approached me with concerns, I made time to give them the advice that they required and reminded them of the good work they had produced over the course of the year.

On the day itself I felt as nervous as if I was sitting the exam myself. The exam was in the afternoon so we ran a final revision session in the morning before the students made their way to the sports hall to sit the paper. As they set off, my nerves increased as I realised that it was now out of my hands. I had given my students everything that I could and it was now up to them to realise their potential.

I made my way to the hall for the end of the exam and was relieved to see many smiling faces – the same faces that were furrowed with worry just two hours before. I managed to speak to around 10 of my students who all felt positive about how they had performed. Many thought the paper had been more accessible than paper one and I felt the most incredible sense of relief. Looking at the paper later, I was satisfied that I had delivered all of the relevant content and that the vast majority of my students would have been able to tackle the questions posed.

As this is the last entry of my NQT diary this year, I had thought about writing a triumphant climax, but this would not have been reflective of how teaching works. I have recently started to teach Britain, Health and the People to my year 10 students, and am much more confident in my own delivery of the content the second time around. As my year 11s left school that day with the world at their feet, I went back to my classroom to finish planning my lessons for the following week.

The corridors in school are quieter due to the year 11s having left but will soon to be filled with a new cohort of students whose journey is just beginning. Life at school keeps rolling along and we teachers keep striving to give our students the best education possible. There are no endings, only new stories waiting to be told. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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