Join hundreds of primary teachers in the TES Primary group. Find lesson ideas and inspiration, share best practice and get your questions answered by your peers. This is also the place for debate on the latest issues in primary teaching.
If all your strategies have worked, why say any of them haven't?
Aishas Does anybody know of any strategies that have not worked for them?
Your SLT don't need to know about my ineffective teaching strategies/intervention groups etc they need to know about yours. If everything you've done has worked tell them so. If you've done things which haven't worked then those will form the basis of the answer to your question.
Really I would expect the focus in a pupil progress meeting to be on what your children have achieved. If some of your children are not making good progress then what you've done hasn't worked for them.
It would be a bit silly to suggest reasons we have said in our own PPMs because many will be influenced by the pupils themselves.
I once had a pupil make no progress because he was only in school for 5 days out of a 7 week term. I don't think that will help you much in your meetings!
It sounds like you're panicing about this. It's not really a big deal especially at this time of the year as they've only been in your class a few weeks. I'm sure if you go through each child in your class, you will know why they haven't been reaching targets. And if they haven't, then you really should be looking at the way in which you plan and deliver your lessons; making sure each child has an objective to achieve in the lesson. If they are achieving objectives, then they are making progress.
Last year I had a lad that made no progress, according to end of year SATs results in maths, however I could prove that he was making progress towards the objectives during each lesson. He had been going through a bad patch with his behaviour (hanging around with older boys out of school etc) which was affecting his work, but I think it was mainly down to his general attitude and the way he felt on the day of the test.
It seems a very negative process' What has not worked...'. Does that mean that if it hasn't worked last term it will never work. Surely they need to ask what does pupil A need and then pupil B etc.. And then ask what do you need to achieve this. If the process becomes like an internal OFSTED then it will be resented. I hope the SLT would use the opportunity to share what should be their greater experience and knowledge with staff who are keen to move the children in their class on.
Amen to that Yohana - well said!
As for original question, don't go in with that attitude (what have I not done?). That's not the way to approach it.
Answer the question which should really have ben asked which is "what progress has this child made?" rather than why has he not met his target? Have to hand information, however small, of areas in which he/she has progressed (there is always something). Handwriting? mental maths? reading comprehension ..... Then push this down the throats of those who are 'questioning' you.
Also have to hand ideas of ways in which he/she can progress in those areas which have not been so good so far this year. We can't help you with this. Only you know the child.
Offer no negatives ("I should have...but didn't") but only positives "this worked and we are also going to try this."
Don't be bullied.
I know I was a bit over the top over on the worksheets thread, and now I'm just going to wind people up on this thread too, but I feel that I have to say something after that post from yohanalicante... The more I read on this forum (which generally chimes with the attitude I see in my own and other schools), the more depressed I become about a profession where an overly-politicized hysteria about "top-down, authoritarian, conformist agendas" has blinded so many people to what the responsibilities of their role are; that is, to make sure that every child in their class makes progress.
According to this view, you don't need anything as concrete and measurable as "targets" to do this, because of course everything that teachers do is not science but "art", a strange, mystical process that cannot possibly be quantified, far above such crude considerations as "how well can a child read?" or "how secure is their grasp of basic mathematics?".
How convenient that this argument means that we don't have to worry about whether children are learning these things or not (which is handy, as teaching them effectively is actually very difficult to do); we just reject the systems that have been put in place to check that they are happening, and argue that everything will be fine if we are just left alone, it will all come out in the wash. Of all the points raised in the post above (and pretty much every sentence makes me want to write a reply like this), I think this is the one that I find the most shocking:
yohanalicanteThe children have made progress there is no doubt about that.
So that's it then? No need for assessment, no need for any kind of accountability about what those children have achieved or not achieved - simply by turning up in your class, those children will have made some kind of progress, however small, and that, for us, is enough. Never mind the fact that there are huge numbers of children in my own school, and many others, who have been met with this attitude year after year, and who as a result have never actually been pushed to reach anything near their potential, and who will be leaving primary school without the basic skills they will need to thrive at secondary school and beyond.
Hear hear to everything yohanalicante said!
I too hate the pointless and demeaning hoop-jumping we have to do.
However, you have this meeting Aishas that is on your mind so I'll try to help.
Try not to worry. Think of all the interventions and strategies you use in the classroom (have you written them all down for a pre-meeting report already?), such as focussed reading groups, particular reading schemes, extension corner, interactive working wall, whole class role play, AF focus questioning... etc etc. Some of them will be working well so report briefly on those.
Some of them will not be engaging the children so well and you might have changed them to another strategy. This is what they are looking for! They want to see evidence of interventions being adapted to meet pupils' needs - a process we do automatically and naturally so it really grates when we are asked to prove ourselves like this.
Here are some invented examples:
Little Johnny hasn't been getting to grips with his literacy targets because he doesn't work well independently but he found the focus group he was in intimidating... I moved him to work with a writing buddy instead and he is making steady progress
Little Jemima hasn't been learning her multiplication tables at home and is slipping behind. I identified the same in many other pupils in the class so I brought in a testing competition. They still made no attempt to learn so I began singing the tables every day. Things are beginning to pick up.
Little James hasn't been making any progress with Oxford Reading Tree. I identified he needed to go back to basics with his phonics so he is following a phonics reading scheme.
Square group are not making any progress in Maths and so far I have tried backtracking LOs to year 2 and bringing in lots of hands-on equipment. This hasn't worked as they just play with the equipment. NEXT I'm going to give them a visual learning path so that they can see what they are learning and where it is taking them. I will bring in 'expert' status to any child in the group who can teach the concept again to their peers. I will...
Bleurgh. I hate spelling out what we do automatically in the classroom. I think it is utterly pointless and demeaning. Come to think of it I can't see that anyone ever benefitted from all those meetings and reports where I have been asked to justify my own teaching by spelling out my teaching strategies. What does happen to all that paperwork? All it seems to do is make a little more stress and a little more tiredness. Hurrah.
Forgive me for ranting Aishas!
I can't help you with idetifying what has, hasn't, will or won't work with your class of course but I hope this has helped. Good luck :)
Crumbs! That took so long to write two more people posted before me! I am sure they gave much more concise and helpful advice.
jlgt27we just reject the systems that have been put in place to check that they are happening, and argue that everything will be fine if we are just left alone, it will all come out in the wash. Of all the points raised in the post above (and pretty much every sentence makes me want to write a reply like this), I think this is the one that I find the most shocking:
thanks for your comments jlg at least I stirred you up a bit. Perhaps that´s what we might have in common, the need to stir things up. You see I can follow what you say up to a point and thinking maybe we were all bad those fifteen years ago when OFSTED etc first started to seep into the classroom BUT ....and then a bell goes ringggg in my head. You see if children have been met with this attitude for years then we must say how many years because OFSTED in its present guise has been around for at least fifteen of those years. So have the structures which have been so claimed to ensure the progress of each and every child in a structural almost mechanistic way, irrespective of the teacher's style or personality. Have they done tha? If not why not? Are you right in saying we need more of the same for longer to remove all lingering resistance?
SO no I don't take objection to your disagreement but I think it is not about not assessing children, nor about not being held to account. For me it is more than this. It is about what is a teacher in the first place... why train us, develop us and then have quality assurance-speak to try to ensure we fit a limited conceptual model that measures our dimensions in pretty small means. So I say that in the same way we are seeing the 'national' strategies for literacy and numeracy being re-thought (perhaps because of a simplistic view of schools as receiveing and then implementing intitiatives conceived by others), then so too OFSTED is a dying beast for me. It is not suited for its purpose. niether leagues tables, SATs nor inspection guarantee to overcome what you claim to be embedded in the system It lacks inspiration. Instead of breathing fire into the imagination of teachers it heaps dry wood and dead leaves, creating much acrid smoke, many tears in the press and public eye, but little real fire to burn.
So the children and the teachers (and the parents) learn to live without passion. not to take risks. to feel that it needs to be all so safe, indeed that it is safe and guaranteed. Then we can blame someone for it going wrong. Because there is bound to be some for whom that standardised way will never work. Now schools with home-school agreements have given themselves another get-out clause. As if we can't see the schooling method isn't working and changing it, we give it to the parents under binding contracts to do more of at home. So the magic roundabout spins and no zebedee to say it is time for bed.
You would spin it even faster I presume make teachers evn more guilty, more inept, lay the blame at their door for questioning those in unelected- higher authority who try to offer simple solutions. Of course it is top down, authoritarian and punitive. HAve you seen the effects of league tables, panda's and special measures? Have you seen the over insistence in the early years foundation on measuring children of three on a point scale to show how much they grow during theri nursery years. Have you seen the doubt and uncertainty, the wish to know what is the right thing to do for approval by teachers before the OFSTED visit? So for goodness sake if we are questioning platitudes in every sentence then question those who preside over a bloated system of evaluation and assessment, moderation and school improvement data that encourages conformity and not diversity.
You obviously believe it is better now than some time when teachers were in your book less committed. Yet has not the message from secondary school always been largely, consistently negative about the achievements of young children. How can it be still so after the shcok troops of OFSTED and the colonisation by national strategies for fifteen years? I for one am not convinced by your arguments. I work very hard as a teacher to engage, interest and teach my children. The science and the art I am 100 percent aware of every day. I do not say these things lightly. Do I think my ´quality´or that of my school can be assessed by simple statistical overviews? no I don't. Do I think the quality of teaching and learning really improves because along comes a man (or team) in suits with checklists and enforces an accountability out of apprehensive, playing safe, following-to-the-letter misunderstood guidance and rules, by teachers. The ideal three part lesson rehashed, reheated, jsut to keep it safe.
No I don't. It can seem to improve. Because more children use maths vocabulary at younger ages, Without really enjoying maths? or can talk about connectives but don´t have joined up thinking in their lives between school and home? Why because the schooling agenda which you so vociferously support, perhaps hasn't done such a tremendous job anyway for many years for many children. It has schooled them into a uniformity and a seeming compliance like the teachers, but has it really developed and educated them? Do you walk down the street everyday or travel on the bus amongst young people, or even socialise amongst the 16-25 group who have been educated during this period and feel you are part of a super-educated civilised, high-learning society. I don't. Perhaps I am odd.
I see anxiety about poor schoopls, poor neighbourghoods, a mythical fear that you might just get this amazing 15 percent of bad teaching all your life and therefore your life is a failure. It wans't in your hands to do something about it. Blame the teachers; as you do.
Yes children will make progress. It might not be in the key skills, how we connect their progress to the key skills is for me the question. What are the key skills that they need. Am I a follower of an established curriclum or am I at a point of dynamic equilibrium as a teacher. Modulating the established to the modern, the new, the transforming daily. Assess me on that and I will show you my true game and level of play.
I am not convinced that what you recommend is more of the same for a malaise that is more populous and propagandist than real. There might be a malaise in schooling in its concept and practise. (just look at homework and uniforms if you want to see how much school wants to, and has extended into the civic and familial domains - with better results?) According to you because of people like me, the obviously thousands of us in the system. Doesn't it make you think that just maybe they are the terachers and the role of teacher and the way we are allowed to be that are not at the moment compatible? That we are still expounding a model that ensured priveleges for some and the hope or false hope of those same benefits forcing the whole mass to try to fit that same model?
Why do I say that children make progress so emphatically.. Because so often one hears the kind of negative, self-defeating, future-disaffection generating limited talk that fails children. Not being free enough to engage with them. The whole agenda is to fit the curriculum model established, the rhythm and pace are set. Keep up the march or fall by the way side. Thus many of them learn early on to let go.
What perhaps you don't understand about my ire is that it is born of real commitment to the progress of children. All children. I just question how that is conceived and how so many (as you point out) learn to not achieve. Such that I do question what I see as the fear-riddled, conformist, statistically manipulated, points assessed system which has many teachers, students and parents in its thrall without ever really being allowed to question or find alternatives within it.
SO yes that is why I say we must look at progress in terms of where from and what. Perhaps to celebrate much more without comparison and resultant disaffection Which would be fine if teachers were not so crucial in the life's of children such that we need to have the widest view, the most flexible methods and yes the biggest heart, to develop the deepest art. If you can assess that over a few grades and statistics by a computer print-out at a distance away or a brief lesson observation. The great. I just don't see it happens that way though
yohanalicanteif children have been met with this attitude for years then we must say how many years because OFSTED in its present guise has been around for at least fifteen of those years. So have the structures which have been so claimed to ensure the progress of each and every child in a structural almost mechanistic way, irrespective of the teacher's style or personality. Have they done tha? If not why not?
yohanalicanteniether leagues tables, SATs nor inspection guarantee to overcome what you claim to be embedded in the system
I completely agree with both of these points - by taking issue with what you said in your previous post, I was not suggesting for a moment that I think Ofsted, or indeed the current system of testing and league tables in general, is perfect. Far from it - as you say, the system as it currently stands has been in place for some time, and children are still being failed by it.
But if we teachers are going to insist on our role being the most important within this whole system, as it surely is, then it is us who need to take ultimate responsibility for its failure. I simply don't buy the argument that our hands our tied, and that if Ofsted and league tables disappeared tomorrow, the standard of children's education would suddenly rise because teachers would finally be free to do as they pleased without any outside interference. Those systems, however flawed, were brought in because low standards and inconsistency meant that greater accountability was required; the fact they have been unsuccessful in ultimately providing this, and in ensuring that all children do make progress, simply means, I would argue, that those systems need reviewing, not that the whole principle of accountability is inherently wrong and by definition obstructive to good teaching and learning.
I can understand having specific concerns about, for example, the way in which Ofsted operates, or about the way in which management teams interpret and implement their role - we all have these concerns, and of course we need to talk about how these things can be improved for the benefit of the children we teach. But why do these legitimate concerns need to be blown up into some kind of conspiracy theory about a sinister cabal of inspectors, LEAs and SMTs plotting together to impose their wicked schemes on us poor, noble teachers? This is teaching, not The DaVinci Code - all of those people mentioned have the same job to do, and that job is to ensure that children in our schools are learning. There may be flaws in this system, and imcompetent, out-of-touch people within these bodies, but there are flaws within teaching as well - it does children no favours to portray one side as goodies and the other as baddies.
If it could be shown that all that is needed are teachers, and teachers alone, to make sure that this learning happens, then yes, we wouldn't need any other layers of accountability. But as can be seen from the ease with which some people are able to dismiss the whole concept of being accountable for the job that you are paid for ("you don't need to measure whether progress is being made or not, or how much; it probably just is, and that's all you need to worry about"), these extra layers - while currently flawed and certainly in need of review - are absolutely necessary.
And going back to the original post in this thread for a moment: while I agree that the question from SLT - "What strategies have you put in place for Literacy and Numeracy that have not worked?" - was strangely worded, there is no reason to interpret this as evidence that the poster is in danger of being "bullied", or being subjected to "an internal Ofsted", or put through a display of "demeaning hoop-jumping", unless you have a particular axe to grind about any of those things. All we know is that the original poster, like any other professional in any other profession, is going to be held accountable for the things that they have done while carrying out the job that they are paid to do.
This, I would argue, is a key reason why the current system is failing: because any attempts to remind many teachers of this accountability are met with constant resistance, and indeed this resistance is fuelled by a stream of us-against-the-world rhetoric which insists that classroom teachers are the only people who want what's best for children, and that everyone else in education (SLTs, Ofsted, LEAs, whoever) are bureaucratic pen-pushers who are stopping these children from getting the education they deserve. This message, as can be seen from this forum, is obviously a very popular one, because it is exactly what teachers want to hear - of course it's easier if we blame a "top-down, authoritarian, conformist agenda" for children not learning, rather than examining our own practice and reflecting seriously on how we could improve what we do in the classroom (the only thing that will, after all is said and done, make sure that children do reach their potential). If everyone was doing this, then children would be making good progress, and there would be no need for this "agenda" in the first place.
jlgt27This, I would argue, is a key reason why the current system is failing
The current system is only "failing" by its own internally prescribed criteria, eg that all 11 year-olds should reach level 4 in English and Maths.
Why should they?
WolfPaul jlgt27This, I would argue, is a key reason why the current system is failing The current system is only "failing" by its own internally prescribed criteria, eg that all 11 year-olds should reach level 4 in English and Maths.Why should they?
The expectation that all children should reach a certain level by a certain age is, I agree, an arbitrary one (and also one that is ultimately impossible to meet - I think our targets, like the ones we set for our children, should actually be achievable); this is one of the specific issues that I have with the current Ofsted regime, and the implication that a school with a high proportion of level 4s is by definition better than a school with a lower proportion, regardless of how much the school had to do to get the children to that level.
But that is not the only measure by which the current system is failing. It is failing whenever a child, year after year, fails to make any substantial progress from where they were before (irrespective of what their actual level of attainment is). I really don't see how the expectation of progress is an arbitrary, unrealistic, top-down "target"; surely it is the most fundamental part of our job? That, as a result of our teaching, children get better at doing things than they were before? And the only way that we can make sure that this is happening is by measuring how much better they are getting, whether it is at writing, or maths, or art, or PE, or whatever. To say that we don't need to measure this, as it's probably happening anyway (when in many cases it's not), or that, even though this progress is what we are paid to ensure, we don't need to justify our decisions to anybody if it doesn't happen, is not good enough - children deserve better than this.
Top of page
TES Editorial © 2012 TSL Education Ltd. All pages of the Website are
reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, resell or exploit any material on the
Website for any commercial purposes. TSL Education Ltd Registered in England (No 02017289) at 26 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4HQ