Finding an NQT position

There’s a lot to consider when applying for your first teaching job. Here are some pointers to get you started.

Lampton Park School

.When should I start looking for a job? 

Finding the right school environment in which to complete your NQT induction is very important. Start thinking about your first position is as early as possible, by looking at what’s currently being advertised and thinking about what sort of school you would be looking for. But don’t rush to get a job before you are ready. The peak months for job vacancies are between March and May, by which time you will be well into your second placement and should be forming a good idea of what it means for you to be a teacher.

.Where should I look? 

  • Your PGCE tutor
  • TES (Times Educational Supplement) The Guardian, local and regional press,
  • Your local IOP Physics Network Co-ordinator
  • The IOP’s Physics Teacher Network provides support for teachers across the UK. Usually teachers or former teachers themselves, our Network Co-ordinators have close links with the schools in their region and often know of vacancies.
  • Talk Physics
  • Teachers occasionally post vacancies on our community website
  • Local Education Authorities
  • Local Education Authorities know of all the vacancies in the schools they fund.
  • Schools’ own websites


While interviews can be daunting, they are an inevitable part of going for a new job. You are likely to be asked to teach a lesson – and this is true whether you are going for your first NQT position or a Head of Department role. Benefit from the experience of other teachers by logging on to our teacher forum Talkphysics to see what advice they have sought and been given.

Don’t forget that the interview should be two-way. You need to be sure that the school is right for you in terms of how you will fit in, how well you will be supported and how well the school is going to help you to develop as a teacher.

Find out how many physics specialists they have – if they are scarce, think whether you have the confidence and the external support network to teach physics there. Ask to look around the physics prep-room – does it seem a place where other teachers happily share kit or are they guarding their resources carefully? How would you feel about working with the technicians in this school?

See also:

Finding an NQT position: physicists

Finding an NQT position: non-specialists teaching physics

.Negotiating terms and conditions 

In terms of negotiating your contract, the usual rules apply. If you don’t ask, you (probably) won’t get.  You should make sure that what they are offering is made explicit and don’t assume that what they offer you is immutable.

Space to negotiate does depend on the school itself and the difficulties - or not - it has had in recruiting. But do take note:  if you are a physics specialist, the chronic shortage of physics teachers means you are likely to be in a strong bargaining position. If you are a female physics specialist, you may be in an even stronger position and if you are from a minority group, this may also strengthen your position.

But being able to demonstrate you can teach physics, particularly if you have taken a subject knowledge enhancement course, should stand you in good stead whatever your specialism and other highly desirable attributes.

An experienced physics teacher advises: “From experience with my colleagues – read your contract before signing it. If you don't like the terms and conditions, you need to raise these issues before you sign – it’s too late to complain afterwards!”

.Extra responsibilities 

Use your NQT year to get your physics teaching right.

Don’t be tempted to take on any unnecessary responsibilities in your first year; concentrate on getting the basics settled. You’ll be in a much better position to succeed in other areas when you have consolidated your strengths.

Equally, if you are worried about teaching your non-specialist subjects, see if you can arrange to avoid them during your first year to concentrate on your strengths.

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