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Top 10 must-haves to help you through your NQT year

During your degree, you’ll probably have picked up lots of bits and bobs from placements and fairs, such as notebooks, pencils and other freebies!

While your new school will provide you with all the essentials you need for your NQT year, there are still some items you can bring with you to make things that bit easier. Here’s our list of 10 must-have items to help you get started!


1. A planner

Nothing beats a brand-new planner! From making lists to jotting down names, having a planner on hand will help to make your NQT year that bit easier and more organised.

2. A to-do list

In the same vein, there’s nothing more helpful than a to-do list. In my NQT year, one of our sessions was on how to be organised. The consultant leading the session shared a great way to prioritise your to-do list: 

  1. Get a spiral-bound notebook and use tabs to separate it into four sections. 
  2. One is to do today, one is to do at a scheduled time, one is to do by the end of this week and one is to do in the long term. 
  3. Add items to the list in manageable chunks (e.g. don’t just block out marking – specify ‘mark maths books by tomorrow’) and highlight the high priority items. 
  4. If you prefer using tech, you could use Trello or an equivalent digital organiser to create a satisfying to-do list. 

3. A teaching union  

Not only do you have access to legal support should you need it, you’ll also be able to join CPD events and receive additional support or financial benefits, such as discounts or cashback on specific purchases.

4. New stationery

If you’re anything like me, stationery is always a winner if you’re going to treat yourself!

Make sure you have a full range of day-to-day stationery, including pens, a hole-puncher, a stapler, glue and sellotape. Just remember to name your items! 

5. A work-ready wardrobe 

Make sure you have an appropriate wardrobe. If you’re teaching younger years, you may want to wear trousers for when you’re sitting on the floor.

You’ll also want layers. It’s amazing how quickly a classroom or assembly hall can go from absolutely freezing to swelteringly hot.

And remember: always keep a spare, full outfit at work — in case of contact with mud, food or paint!

6. Hand sanitiser

If you want to avoid the equivalent of freshers’ flu for NQTs, keep a hand sanitiser and antibacterial spray close by. You will get sneezed on, coughed on and (possibly!) vomited on by a range of small people. Sorry. 

7. A diffuser

Spray-on deodorant and an air freshener may not be a bad thing to keep in your room. A reed diffuser can be kept on your desk and can provide an invisible barrier between you and your Year 6 class after PE. On the hottest day of the year. When the air-con is broken…

8. A water bottle

We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, particularly when teaching a class of excited pupils! Go for an insulated eco-friendly bottle to keep your drinks cool.

9. A travel mug

Your desperate need for a good cup of coffee or tea may sometimes be thwarted, usually because you’ve been distracted and left your drink so long that it becomes tepid. Invest in a decent travel mug (with a lid) to keep your delicious beverages hot!

10. A secret stash of healthy snacks

Finally, a range of healthy(ish!) food, such as dried fruit, cereal bars and dark chocolate will keep you going and stop you from heading to the staffroom in search of cakes and biscuits. 

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