Students: entering the workplace for the first time

Congratulations to those of you who have finished your qualification and secured your new role. For those who have not yet secured a position, there are useful tips for securing that first job here: Student teachers: getting ready for the workplace.

For the next few months, you may feel excited that you have secured your first job, but also nervous about the upcoming year as a newly qualified professional. However, if you have some time over the summer to prepare yourself for your first day, make the most of it by getting the essentials prepared. These could include supplies, designing a bulletin board or display for your class and learning your schedule. However, there are many other things to consider before you enter the workplace.

Making the most of your summer break

Although you’re about to enter the world of work, and may be thinking about your upcoming year in the workplace and that you need to spend the next few weeks preparing, you should still take the time to relax and unwind.

If you’re moving to a new area, it may be a good idea to check out the local attractions. This time off may also be a good opportunity to brush up on skills for both your personal and your professional life. The break is a great opportunity to catch up with friends and family before starting your new job. You should also make the most of the lie-ins while you can as you may not have the opportunity to indulge in them as much when you start the job! Don’t forget, however, to make sure you’re all ready for the start of your new job. Here are some things you might want to think about in advance.

Emergency supplies

Even though we’re sure you will have the basics covered, you will also have to consider supplies for certain occasions. We would recommend getting all your supplies ready in a box for you to take on your first day:

  • pain killers – not because of the pupils/children, of course!;
  • lip balm – you will be talking for a large portion of the day, which may chap your lips, so this will come in useful;
  • snacks – your working day can be a long one, and there may be days where you work through your lunch or are too busy to prepare lunch for the day;
  • spare money – if you need to go to the shop or coffee/vending machine;
  • spare clothes/waterproof coat – with the British weather, you never know when there will be a rainy spell, or you may have to do playground duty, or go on school trips etc;
  • hand sanitiser – with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a necessity, especially if you are interacting with a lot of different children or students throughout the day;
  • tissues –you or a child are bound to get the sniffles; and
  • mug – make sure to have a mug, as you will need it for those important breaks to get you through the day!

Get your uniform organised

Your workplace may have a specific dress code, or a uniform, so check that out first. You can get this from the workplace administrator.

For teaching in a classroom, we would recommend getting items of clothing which are smart but also comfy that can be mixed to vary your outfits, such as a collared or dress shirt (long sleeved or short sleeved) along with trousers/a knee-length skirt and smart shoes. You may also want to get some jackets or jumpers for those colder days.

For those working in early years, if you’re not provided with a uniform, a polo shirt along with trousers is the best bet, but ensure that the trousers are suitable and comfortable for bending down/ crouching. We would also recommend getting a zip-up fleece or a cardigan for those cold days.

Make sure to look at the labels to ensure that your clothing is machine washable and dryer compatible, to ensure that you can get your uniform cleaned and dried easily on those busy days.

Get familiar with the curriculum

For classroom-based staff, your workplace should provide a staff handbook, curriculum plan or scheme of work that will detail the curriculum and standards for the year.

Early years settings in England, for example, follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) so you should familiarise yourself with that.

First day activities

You will not be the only nervous one on your first day – the pupils/children will be too. Use this as an opportunity to get to know them. Think of fun but informative activities to use for this – for example, a ‘show- and-tell’ or an activity that will get discussion going between you and them.

Keep on top of emails/post

You may receive a lot of emails and letters during the beginning of your new job, so make sure to keep on top of them. This will also help you to keep up to date with news in your workplace.

Maintain a work-life balance

Your first year may be the most difficult of your career, as you will be coming to terms with a lot of aspects of the profession, but do not let this affect your mental health.  Find out more about that here.

Make sure to put aside time to sleep, eat and relax. You will then enter the workplace in a healthier mindset than you would after a night of no sleep. We understand that it will be next to impossible not to bring work home, but try to put yourself first.

Stay up to date in the workplace

You are the new face, and there will be an expectation for you to know about current trends, topics, and issues in education or early years, so:

  • sign up for newsletters from education or early years websites;
  • follow important figures in education/early years on social media; and
  • of course, as a member of Community, you will receive your quarterly digital magazine, Your voice in education and early years, as well as regular emails to keep you updated.

Communication with parents/ carers

It’s vital that you communicate with your pupils’/children’s parents/carers so you can work together, not only to further the children’s education, but also to get an understanding of them when the parents or carers aren’t there. This will also help to show the parents that you are reliable and happy to communicate with them if needs be.

Don’t forget

As your union, Community is here to help you and offer advice throughout your career. If you have any queries before or during your first year, contact us and we’ll be happy to help. We’d love to hear from you!

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at or on 0800 389 6332.

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