Supporting NQTs with Opogo's TeachGrowth programme

Pete Atherton

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

This blog introduces a support programme for NQTs and early career teachers. The Programme is called ‘TeachGrowth’. As its name suggests, it is designed to help teachers thrive in those all-important first years of teaching.


When teachers thrive, their careers can flourish. You may already be familiar with a set of worrying statistics around the proportion of teachers who leave in their first year and also within the first five years.

The TeachGrowth Programme will start to address this by providing structured support in a variety of crucial areas. The modules will be non-compulsory and will not add to NQT’s workload. Let’s look more closely at the Programme and the reasons why it is so necessary.

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First, some stark statistics from a recent poll conducted by the N.E.U (National Education Union). The N.E.U polled over 8000 of their members and published its findings in April 2019. The reasons for this are, of course, the pressure of a heavy workload and a performance-driven culture. What’s more, 18% of teachers who were polled said that they intend to quit teaching within two years, with 40% intending to leave teaching within five years.

A recent poll reveals that 81% of teachers had considered leaving the profession in the last year.


You may be thinking that this has to stop. Indeed, many people would agree with you but how many are prepared to do something about it? Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary announced this year that he would help create more flexible working patterns for teachers, for example by encouraging job sharing. Whether this will happen and how effective this might be are yet to be seen, though you may have every reason to be optimistic.

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There are, however, more realistic and immediate ways to improve the lives of new teachers. Opogo’s TeachGrowth Programme is designed to offer an extra layer of support for NQTs and early career teachers. The focus will be on wellbeing and support, as opposed to the pervasive culture of performance and accountability. The Programme will comprise of a small number of online modules, with a system of support from external mentors, who will develop a close relationship with the new teachers.

The structure of the Programme will be driven by the needs of NQTs. These will be organized into several pillars: teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, classroom management and subject knowledge. It will also help build on what they learn as trainees, for example about how to assess effectively and where teaching becomes learning.

Teaching, learning and assessment will help teachers reflect on pedagogy, or how they teach.


Personal development means taking teachers on a journey to seeking out meaningful, impactful continuous professional development (CPD). It also means helping teachers hone their existing skills and develop new ones. Classroom management will help teachers take their clarity of expectations and use of school systems to the next level. Subject knowledge will help ensure that new teachers are continuing to learn about their subject in a way that makes them feel more confident. In all cases, the Programme aims to embrace a growth model, not a deficit model.

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Through this support, teachers will develop behaviours that will enable them to thrive in the profession. These behaviours have been identified as personal responsibility, empowerment, ambition, resilience and leadership. Once the cohort have completed the course, they will have some tangible evidence of the quality and breadth of their experience at the start of their teaching career. They will have balanced their responsibilities with their own wellbeing and started to build a road map to leadership.

The content will be essentially blended learning, that is, a blend of online video materials and face to face interaction. Each module will consist of some helpful videos, which will lead users to reflective, supportive conversations with their mentors. The first cohort will be invited to an end of term event, at which their achievements will be recognised and rewarded.

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About our Community Expert

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Pete Atherton
Community Expert

Pete Atherton is a passionate, skilled and committed educator.

He has been a teacher and consultant for over 20 years and is now a lead Tutor at LJMU and Edge Hill University. He is also a published author and acclaimed ed-tech visionary.

Pete leads the NQT-focused content on the Opogo Hub and continues to curate the course material for our up and coming NQT academy course.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

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