Fake Headteacher: NQT definition guide

NQT definition guide:

“Even better if”

How someone else would do it; different, but not necessarily better. Leaders have to be seen to be improving the school. Just go with it as best you can. It’s not personal.


A made up term to bully staff into teaching and marking in a particular way. It’s not always the best way, or based on research, or suits your preferred way of managing your class but be careful, if you don’t do them, you’ll be quickly put on a support plan.

“It is what it is”

A phrase leaders use to bounce away comments about workload and wellbeing. It’s usually to do with the pressures leading up to an Ofsted inspection. Promises will made that when Ofsted have been, concerns about workload will be addressed. Often it’s not.

“After Ofsted, things will ease off.”

No. Not usually. The increased workload to achieve the improved Ofsted grade will stay the same as leaders now know that the pages of non-negotiables worked. They won’t let that drop now. Sorry.


I’m still not sure what it means. Everyone has interpreted this differently. Every one does the same. Extend by showing mastery? Just nod politely when mastery is mentioned. Tell your friends you teach maths mastery. They will be impressed. Hopefully they won’t ask you to go into detail.

“Book Scrutiny”

Every few weeks leaders will check you’re using the right pen to mark with, learning objectives are presented in the correct manner, pupils are using a ruler, pupils are using purple pens, the correct number of next steps are written by the teacher, pupils have marked other books etc. It’s a ball ache. The adverts don’t mention any of this. If you’re lucky, leaders will actually look at whether pupils are making progress regardless. If you’re lucky.

“Learning Walks”

You don’t learn anything. Pupils don’t learn anything. It’s a poorly named phrase. Think of it as a conformance walk. Are you conforming to the long list of things they expect to see? During the ten minutes they pop in, have a sip of your red bull and perform like a rock star. You’ll be fine. Have the non-negotiables list displayed somewhere so you can quickly refer to it when you get very nervous. Expect lots of negative feedback. Leaders are under a lot of pressure.


UPS – upper pay scale. Looks good on paper. The idea was to reward good teachers who wanted to stay in teaching but not necessarily wanting to become senior mangers. Ha, ha. Nowadays, schools can’t afford to keep staff on UPS so they have overloaded them with extra work in the hope they resign. Often UPS staff are bullied into leaving. NQTs like yourself are so much cheaper and will conform immediately in most cases. Don’t move onto UPS. It’s not as good as it looks.

Pupil Progress Meetings”

You’ll love these. Every half term, you will be interrogated by a member of the SLT. They will want to know how you intend to teach your class. They will want to know how you will help the pupils. They will want to know what you will do about pupils who are not making progress. Expect them to give you unrealistic targets for the pupils to meet. This is the start of the accountability pressure. Get used to it.

“Working Walls”

Don’t waste your time coming in over the holidays to create beautiful displays. Working walls are the new thing. Slap sheets up on them as you go. Hand write everything. The messier they look, the better. Make them look raw, edgy and current. You will need to update them every day to prove learning is thriving in your classroom. You’ll get bored very quickly but you must keep all the working walls up to date. They will check. You won’t have much choice I am afraid. Every classroom will look the same. Sorry.

“Verbal Feedback”

Basically, verbal feedback is whenever you tell a pupil how to improve. Leaders want evidence of this now. I know it’s your job but everything has to be proven. So whenever you help a pupil, make sure you write VF on the book and annotate it explaining what you said. Alternatively, get a verbal feedback stamper. Of course you give feedback all the time in lessons but just play the game. Write one VF every day to keep leaders off your back.

Good luck!


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