Starting Afresh

Education has certainly changed since my last blog and thoughts. I have also changed, had some edges rubbed off me by the ever changing tide.

I was recently taken back to remembering my NQT year as a mature student. The school where I was working was training students all fresh faces, with excitement in the explanations and reasons for teaching. Watching them over the few weeks of their placement was a reminder of just how hard we worked, how interested  we were in our subject, how we wanted to change young peoples lives.

Everything they did helped me put back into perspective what I do daily and why. It suddenly dawned on me that the NQT is still inside, but changes to policies, head teachers with differing focusses, practice, theory being rewritten and technological developments have made me try and become the perfect textbook teacher (isn’t that what  OFSTED,ESTYN, Performance Management are really about)? What I had lost was the spontaneity with a  group, sharing my own passion for designing and making, and starting debates that may lead nowhere, but at least we have thought about the question posed. That is why with my current year 10 I have a plastic bag and weekly I go shopping. the first week they were quite bored, with comments like do you really like shopping at the 99p shop? However as the weeks have gone on, I noticed recently that some heads were actually turning the whole way around to see what was in there before I got the item out. Last week I was poorly and  didn’t do it and there were murmurs of “where’s your shopping, miss”.

What was inside my bag?  Nothing special, just items that either r allowed me to talk about design or our current topic,  biomimicry. My current favourite are the cactus inspired erasers, whereas the young people preferred the shark ruler, possibly because they were researching sharks themselves, their way it allowed their minds to think differently.

What shall I take this week? I am not sure but it is sure to be Easter inspired. Off to the shops I go…..

OFSTED Updates for implementation in January 2015

Just as teachers are about to embark on the Christmas holidays OFSTED have just published a few documents for implementation in January.

Safeguarding – This is a comprehensive guide for inspectors on what to look for in schools  to ensure safeguarding is a priority in schools. – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inspecting-safeguarding-in-maintained-schools-and-academies-briefing-for-section-5-inspections

It states in section 9 that;

Definition of safeguarding

  1. Ofsted adopts the definition used in the Children Act 2004 and in ‘Working together to safeguard children’. This can be summarised as:
  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
  1. Safeguarding is not just about protecting children from deliberate harm. It relates to aspects of school life including:
  • pupils’ health and safety
  • the use of reasonable force
  • meeting the needs of pupils with medical conditions
  • providing first aid
  • educational visits
  • intimate care
  • internet or e-safety
  • appropriate arrangements to ensure school security, taking into account the local context.

Safeguarding can involve a range of potential issues such as:

  • bullying, including cyberbullying (by text message, on social networking sites, and so on) and prejudice-based bullying
  • racist, disability, and homophobic or transphobic abuse
  • radicalisation and extremist behaviour
  • child sexual exploitation
  •  sexting
  • substance misuse
  • issues that may be specific to a local area or population, for example gang activity and youth violence
  • particular issues affecting children including domestic violence, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

and section 30 describes … The responsibilities placed on governing bodies and proprietors include:

  • their contribution to inter-agency working, which includes providing a coordinated offer of early help when additional needs of children are identified
  • ensuring that an effective child protection policy is in place, together with a staff behaviour policy
  • appointing a designated safeguarding lead who should undergo child protection training every two years
  • prioritising the welfare of children and young people and creating a culture where staff are confident to challenge senior leaders over any safeguarding concerns

Also new today are:

Inspecting schools: questionnaire for school staff – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inspection-questionnaire-for-school-staff  which includes;

 

(please tick) Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
1 I am proud to be a member of staff at this school.
2 Children are safe at this school.
3 Behaviour is good in this school.
4 The behaviour of pupils is consistently well managed.
5 The school deals with any cases of bullying effectively (bullying includes persistent name-calling, cyber, racist and homophobic bullying).
6 Leaders do all they can to improve teaching.
7 The school makes appropriate provision for my professional development.
8 The school successfully meets the differing needs of individual pupils.
9 I know what we are trying to achieve as a school.
10 All staff consistently apply school policies.
11 The school is well led and managed.

Inspecting Schools Framework – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-framework-for-school-inspection

A handbook for Inspectors – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-inspection-handbook

 

EAL or SEN? You decide

At last Rona and I have completed our handy practical guide to help and support you as teachers through the … are they just EAL or SEN or both? minefield.

Bang up to date with the curriculum and SEN changes for the 2014/15 academic year which sees the age range higher and the introduction of a new acronym SEMH which we will all have to be familiar with not just the SENCO or EAL TA.

 

 

A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN learners

A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN learners

Structured around current legislation it gives practical support to support you in your decision making as to whether they are naughty children just trying it on or have a need that is currently not supported.

Great for new teachers or experienced alike.

Contents page EAL SEN

Contents page EAL SEN

 

For a full copy of the SEND code go to –

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/342440/SEND_Code_of_Practice_approved_by_Parliament_29.07.14.pdf

For a copy of the e book priced at £15.00 (not including p and p) contact lsbooksinfo@gmail.com. Printed copies available soon.

back cover

 

Student Participation

Encouraging the best from our young people in classroom situations can be daunting for new teachers, but the example below shows the benefit of well planned whole class teaching on full participation of the students.

In years gone by the stereotype for the classroom are groups of children with their hands up. This was usually the result of the teacher making a  statement e.g. We have been looking at structures and then asking for a response i.e. Put up your hands if you can think of any shell structures.

Despite the stereotypical media classrooms view that everyone ahs their hand up in reality;

  • Only a few will volunteer the information by putting their hands up
  • The teacher usually thanks or praises them
  • To check the rest of the class another few people will be asked and praised re. their contribution
  • This leaves a whole band of students who have said nothing and may know the answer but have not received praise.

Now we will look at a different way of answering the same question but achieving a result that means every students has had a voice. As currently snow and ice is the topic of weather conversation due to the Winter Olympics I suggest we call this idea snowballing.

The question is asked again but this time instead of hands up do the following;

  • Ask each class member to use a whiteboard or post it note to write down one idea
  • In pairs students share their ideas and come up with a  third idea ( 2 minutes is maximum time needed)
  • Join with another pair (creating  group of four) or collaborate as a table, exchange the examples and then think of a few more
  • Finally ask each group to feedback – or alternatively ask each member of the class to report back one idea from their group

This should make each child feel that they have participated and been heard and most if not all should receive praise.

There are many influences to the approach any teacher will use depending on a variety of circumstances and the topic, curriculum concept that has to be taught. Here are some examples;

  1. The motivation and behaviour of the students
  2. The complexity of the knowledge needed to be learnt
  3. The ethos developed by the teacher for that classroom i.e. is it more inquiry and thinking led or passive hands up?
  4. Cultural differences
  5. Class size
  6. Academic  and general language skills

 

 

Every child matters! or does it? When the mother of one of my year 7 students told me that her daughter was struggling to come to terms with the drop in her levels since primary school….

Such an awful yet typical story that those of us who work in pastoral systems in schools are aware of on a  daily basis. Every year our children struggle and yet as this article states quite clearly the system itself adds to the pressure on children. As I always say no matter what we agree our policies to be, every time we must remember there is a child at the end of it, and we have a duty to each individual child.

# mentalhealth

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/22/secret-teacher-student-stress-suffering?CMP=new_54

Is the new OFSTED criteria and lesson observations creating even more mental health problems in schools?

The news story below hit a chord with me not only on a personal teacher level, but also as a consultant having worked in schools where not only one person lesson was judged inadequate, but the whole school. When schools are judged to be inadequate this same reaction holds true for the teacher in questions, the teachers as a whole, the auxiliary staff, the parents and the community.

The demotivating effect was instantaneous. I was so upset that I couldn’t go back into the classroom that afternoon. Instead, I went home and proceeded to do absolutely zero planning for the next day. For the rest of the week, my teaching was somewhat lacklustre because I was so wrung out by the distress of the observation. I felt ashamed of myself and unworthy of the responsibility of teaching a class of children. I started to feel overwhelmed by the possibility that I might be letting my students down. By the weekend, I was experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/15/secret-teacher-outstanding-inadequate-lesson-observations?CMP=new_54

This teacher was lucky as was I when a very similar incident happened to me. Thankfully a headteacher who knows the staff and school can make much better judgements.

At the time of my incident not only was I marked down by the lesson observer but was told to take a leaf out of one of my colleagues books. I was in disbelief, did he really mean the same colleague who before this planned pre-OFSTED observation had not planned but got myself and the head of department to do it for him, had the worst results of all of us and had the least respect of the students?

As you can imagine I did the same withdrew and wondered what to do, after a four page A4 handwritten letter to the headteacher and a subsequent interview I began to feel better, but all the time could not believe the system had let me and the school down so badly.

I keep reminding myself that, at the end of the day, I’m only in my second year of teaching. I will make mistakes in the classroom, miss things I should have picked up on and pitch the odd activity wrongly. But as long as my students are learning what they need to (and they are), my classroom is safe (and it is), and I am providing appropriate interventions for those children whose progress is less than ideal (which I am), then I know that I am doing my job – and doing it very well. Secret Teacher, Guardian

In my case I kept going for the students as for me that was why I was there, I believed in them and though sometimes I did things that were different (being the first female in the school teaching DT Resistant materials I had to sometimes), it was always about getting the best from my youngsters.

At the end of the year I was vindicated as my classes results were the best in the LA. To this day I have had no apology like the data protection act – everyone stood behind – it was what he saw in that 30 minute lesson! My classes results were also a shock in the wider area as we had many selective schools within our group, this gave me back my confidence.

Hence when this happened again a second time,  as before I had been observed by an external assessor as excellent then the next lesson observation made (by a consultant)  was equally as negative as the first about all aspects of the lesson, I could have been left thinking I was useless. What was equally interesting was the same lesson was observed weeks later by another teacher who didn’t change anything and they received a 1.  I realised the one thing that both the teachers who did really well had, that I didn’t, (and still don’t) is the gift of the gab. It was therefore at this point that I decided it was not worth worrying about as I knew my classes results were always the best, or in the top and that was my job.

Later on my confidence and experiences meant that I looked past lesson observation and looked for other things like genuine planning, understanding of curriculum areas, the rapport of the children and the work achieved to date, as well as observing over a period of time what is really happening in classrooms. In my consultants role to schools in Special Measures, serious weaknesses or needing improvement, I was always sad when the LA did not support the head, but used them as a scapegoat by sacking them. In my view this created even more confusion for everyone involved, it lowered the self-esteem of the whole building and anyone associated with it. It was like a fog over the whole area of the town.

Maybe this story will make people realise that one just one observation  can crush the very people we want to inspire and be role models to our learners, our parents and our communities. Using just one lesson observation as a yardstick for everything else is very dangerous. Having targets and expectations are great, but remember when writing or delivering any policy at the end of it there is a child or teacher doing their utmost.

As I go around schools now delivering EAL support I am very concerned that the new guidelines by OFSTED  (September  update) means that most schools will naturally fall by one grade due to the criteria. Where will it leave them?

These schools are doing the same as they always did, but suddenly they will find as it unravels that they are not at the top or are very close to needing some intervention. The only reason being because the criteria has changed, surely this isn’t a good enough reason to put more lives at risk of feeling inadequate, and all those mental health problem that then start feed into this system i.e. people with stress related illnesses, children self harming etc.

Only last week I was out with a group of people (supporting the national issue Time to change, Time to Talk). I began talking to one person who was at the time on their way to an appointment to their child’s school, they had been told their child will be excluded because they do not do failure. I was really surprised and ask for more detail but was then  horrified that  the school knew the child was self harming but their 99% pass rate was more important than the child just in case they had an OFSTED visit. Surely this is all the wrong way around, we have a duty to our children so lets start doing it.

What do you think?

Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.

Embracing bilingualism helps school achieve Good OFSTED report.

What great news that a school in Peterborough has improved so greatly in the past months that OFSTED have now deemed them as good. So remarkable that news papers Peterborough Today and the Daily Mail and even the radio station R2 have today run the story.

 

Readers of this blog will not be surprised that by embracing bilingualism and using it to benefit your teaching improves and speeds up the rate that the pupils learn English. I have gathered information about its benefits and the results are now starting to come through. The head teacher clearly supports this view of bilingualism and her results show that by embracing it results can be improved quickly. I believe this is the start of the educational culture change which so many schools and LA officers were resisting up until a year or so ago.

 

Head Christine Parker, 54, said: ‘More and more  of the world is  going bilingual. The culture at our school is not to see  bilingualism as  a difficulty.’

I am also hopeful that this great result will also make sure that gone are the conversations littered with  I only have one or two! or what can I do I don’t speak their language? as an excuse is changing. Gone and evidently going are the teachers plodding along teaching what is comfortable for them in such a way that it takes longer than necessary for the children to pick up the language.  Children pick up social language quite easily and it is the schools job to ensure the curriculum is taught and academic language is known and understood. In the future we should now be able to say that  Every Student does Matter.

There will be difficulties along the way as the head describes here;

‘Sometimes parents have tried to help  their  children learn English but their own isn’t too good,’ she said.  ‘The outcome is  the children aren’t fluent in their own language. If  they haven’t got a good  foundation [in their own language] it can be  very difficult to build on  that.’

but by sharing and supporting each other we can ensure that this becomes the reality.

 

OFSTED – Analysis and challenge tools for schools Guidance

OFSTED have set out a  set of tools to help support ensuring that your pupil premium is spent effectively and gives guidance for schools to show how its use is closing the gap. Different criteria for secondary and primary it focusses attention on results and the use of the money to improve English, reading, writing and maths.

Here are some highlight but it is worth having a  good look at the document in its entirety. Choose the PDF or word version from this link http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-analysis-and-challenge-tools-for-schools

 The items covered are:

Analysis and challenge toolkit for school leaders: secondary

Where are the gaps in Year 11?

Where are the gaps (other year groups)?

Where are the gaps (other eligible groups)?

Reflective questions

Analysis and challenge toolkit for school leaders: primary

Where are the gaps (Year 6)?

Where are the gaps (other year groups)?

Where are the gaps (other eligible groups)?

Reflective questions

Planning and evaluation outline

Self-review questions for Governing Bodies

Below is the guidance for Secondary and primary schools re. where to look for the indicators.

Year 11: Indicator (using data from RAISEonline for 2011 and 2012, and school data for current Year 11. Definition of FSM for this purpose is the same as RAISE –those pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium under the ‘Ever 6’ measure. LAC and
service children in later section).

Data for the pupil outcomes table for Year 6 should be taken from RAISEonline.
Data for other year groups should be available from the school’s own tracking of pupils’ attainment and progress.

The following is a question raised by OFSTED about the date and indicators you have.

What does your data analysis tell you about the relative attainment and achievement
of FSM and non-FSM pupils for each year group? Are there any gaps? To what
extent are gaps closing compared with previous years’ data?

Early Years

Year 1 (consider   whether pupils are making expected progress on the basis of their Early Years   Foundation Stage score; consider the phonics screening check)
Year 2 (consider   predicted end of key stage results for reading, writing and mathematics at   each sub-level, as well as current data)Overall guidance

Pupil Premium used for: Amount allocated to the intervention / action(£) Is this a new or continued activity/cost centre?  Brief summary of the intervention or action, including details of   year groups and pupils involved, and the timescale Specific intended outcomes: how will this intervention or action   improve achievement for pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium? What will it   achieve if successful? How will this activity be monitored, when and by whom? How will   success be evidenced? Actual impact: What did the action or activity actually achieve? Be   specific: ‘As a   result of this action…’
If you plan   to repeat this activity, what would you change to improve it next time?

Self-review questions for Governing Bodies
Governors’ knowledge and awareness
1. Have leaders and governors considered research and reports about what works to inform their decisions about how to spend the Pupil Premium?
2. Do governors know how much money is allocated to the school for the Pupil Premium? Is this identified in the school’s budget planning?
3. Is there a clearly understood and shared rationale for how this money is spent and what it should achieve? Is this communicated to all stakeholders including parents?
4. Do governors know how the school spends this money? What improvements has the allocation brought about? How is this measured and reported to governors and parents via the school’s website (a new requirement)?
5. If this funding is combined with other resources, can governors isolate and check on the impact of the funding and ascertain the difference it is making?
6. Do governors know whether leaders and managers are checking that the actions are working and are of suitable quality?
Leaders and managers’ actions
1. Do the school’s improvement/action plans identify whether there are any issues in the performance of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium?
2. Do the actions noted for improving outcomes for Pupil Premium pupils:
 give details of how the resources are to be allocated?
 give an overview of the actions to be taken?
 give a summary of the expected outcomes?
 identify ways of monitoring the effectiveness of these actions as they are ongoing and note who will be responsible for ensuring that this information is passed to governors?
 explain what will be evaluated at the end of the action and what measures of success will be applied?
3. Is the leader responsible for this area of the school’s work identified?
4. How do governors keep an ongoing check on these actions and ask pertinent questions about progress ahead of any summary evaluations?
5. Are the progress and outcomes of eligible pupils identified and analysed by the school’s tracking systems? Is this information reported to governors in a way that enables them to see clearly whether the gap in the performance of eligible pupils and other pupils is closing?
Pupils’ progress and attainment
1. Does the summary report of RAISEonline show that there are any gaps in performance between pupils who are eligible for free school meals and those who are not at the end of key stages? (Look at the tables on the previous pages of this document for some indicators to consider)
2. Do the school’s systems enable governors to have a clear picture of the progress and attainment of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium in all year groups across the school, not just those at the end of key stages?
3. If there are gaps in the attainment of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium and those who are not, are eligible pupils making accelerated progress – are they progressing faster than the expected rate – in order to allow the gaps to close? Even if all pupils make expected progress this will not necessarily make up for previous underperformance.
4. Is the school tracking the attendance, punctuality and behaviour (particularly exclusions) of this group and taking action to address any differences?
Overall, will governors know and be able to intervene quickly if outcomes are not improving in the way that they want them to?

There is also a good document giving examples of good practice at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-how-schools-are-spending-funding-successfully-maximise-achievement

Hope this helps if you have any ideas to share with others where you have used it successfully please add comments.

138,000 speak no English – census UK

Following on from the last blog it seems that the question of movement and more children arriving in classrooms with another language and little or no English is going to be an upward trend.  Todays census information has ben revealed and suggests:

The number of Polish-born people living in England and Wales has risen by almost 900% since the last census and they now make up 1% of the population – more than Irish-born residents.

Pete Stokes, census statistical design manager for the Office of National Statistics. says most of the Polish migrants tend to be younger, and more prepared to move for work.

“Polish migrants are driven by economics and they are going everywhere. People from Poland are in every local authority in the country, they are not clustering,” he said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20713380

Furthermore the statistics show that:

The number of people living in England and Wales who could not speak any English was 138,000, latest figures from the 2011 census show.

After English, the second most reported main language was Polish, with 546,000 speakers, followed by Punjabi and Urdu.

Some 4 million – or 8% – reported speaking a different main language other than English or Welsh.

Of those with a main language other than English,

1.7 million could speak  English very well,

1.6 million could speak English well, and

726,000 could speak English, however not well. The remaining 138,000 could not speak English at all.

On the plus side there are lots of people and probably teachers arriving with Polish as their first language so maybe we should look at a curriculum which promotes Polish as an MFL and not French? On the negative side schools need to look at how they communicate with parents, children and community to engage them in schooling otherwise our stats as a world leader in education will keep going down and then how they ensure the curriculum is taught and academic language achieved in order that they can partake of formal examinations and receive a grade/number relevant to their true potential.  A hard one but something we must look at, at National and local level to make sure we are not failing our children.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21259401

Finally when I first started teaching I remember people would say there were geographic areas which attracted new arrivals from overseas again this is borne out by the census as is my recent blogs that more and more schools are now witnessing challenging learning requirements to make sure all the pupils reach their potential.

The greatest numerical change has however been in London. In 2001, almost two million people in the capital were born abroad. Today it is almost three million. If anyone doubted that London was now a world city, rather than just the capital of the UK, the figures say different.

Only 44% of people in London now describe themselves as white British. In the east London borough of Newham, fewer than a fifth of the population described themselves so.

Four out of every 10 people in London in 2011 were foreign-born – up from three in 10 in 2001.

Overall, four London boroughs – Newham, Brent, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are now home to a majority who were born outside of the UK. Three other parts of the capital are not far off.

LEAST BORN ABROAD

  • Blaenau Gwent 1,500 (2.2%)
  • Redcar and Cleveland 3,000 (2.2%)
  • Staffordshire Moorlands 2,200 (2.2%)
  • Knowsley 3,400 2.3%
  • Caerphilly 3,400 2.3%

MOST BORN ABROAD

  • Brent 171,000 (55%)
  • Newham 165,000 (54%)
  • Westminster 117,000 (53%)
  • Kensington and Chelsea 82,000 (52%)

The history of migration was once the story of cities: We had very distinct communities in specific places – an African-Caribbean community in London or Birmingham, for instance, and Indian or East African Asian people in Leicester.

Large historic communities remain – but there is also greater geographic spread among newcomers. For instance, some 90% of the Poles in the UK are spread across England and Wales in community after community.

So overall, increasing change, rapid change and increasing diversity.

Today, almost 10,000 people born abroad call Boston home – 3,000 of them from Poland, more than any other local authority outside of the South East.

We will need to create teaching resources using all the ICT and non-ICT resources we have available to make sure that these children grow up as world or global citizens, available for work in more than one country, yet achieving at the best level they can regardless of language/s.  It is our duty to make sure through our unwillingness to change or change our practice that we hold these new world citizens back