Teacher workload

Damian Hinds has pledged to ‘strip away’ teacher workload. Well we can all ‘strip away’ things, from paint to clothing, but surely this sounds like removing thin layers rather than wholesale changes.

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So what things is he going to remove?

Well for a start he could insist that school managers remove the need for every book to be marked every day. Assessment of learning is vital in any good teacher’s role, but that does not mean explicitly marking every book and writing a comment.

Reading Bernard Trafford’s column in the TES this week resonated well with a lot of teachers. One comment was particularly enlightening, where an KS1 teacher spoke of having to write a progress comment in every Y1 pupil’s literacy book, using language that they may understand verbally, but have no hope of reading, let alone being able to act upon it.

Earlier in the week, Gavin Goulds wrote a piece about how his department had cut the amount of marking to a half page of A4 per lesson. Well this is not marking, it is evaluating learning through assessment and evidencing where the learning needs to go next. This is the problem, many school leaders have taken OfSTEDs words for ensuring progress by effective and regular assessment to mean’ Regular Marking’, as this not only ticks the box, it also gives parents & carers the impression that their child’s work is being looked at.

Again, the pedagogical methods of effective assessment and feedback have been hijacked to demonstrate the wrong things to the wrong people.

Let’s get back to what our job is, supporting the intellectual development of young people, through using an effective feedback loop that allows everyone to flourish at their own level and make progress beyond their current performance. If this means immediate verbal feedback that can be actioned within the lesson, peer and self assessment to set criteria and reviews of assessment and exams, then so be it.

Let’s give learning back to the child, then we could have more time planning more effective lessons acting on our assessment rather than endlessly trawling through book after book writing 3 stars and a wish or EBI statements, that will only be read by senior leaders, OfSTED and parents and will have NO impact on learning.

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Post-16 GCSE Maths, Fit for Purpose?

 

In our brave new world of increasing numeracy rates of young people, our Government has decided on ‘increasing’ the demand of GCSE maths.

This has seen a huge increase in students in Further Education having to study GCSE maths.

But has this ‘higher demand’ seen an improvement in the standard of maths from post-16 students.

NO! What has happened is the maths has become more of the abstract skills that these students already struggle with. All this means more disaffected students who feel like failures of the system.

We need to return to the idea of contextual maths for the majority of students, with greater understanding of the key skills required for most employment.

There needs to be a change in the whole system of assessing mathematical skills at 16+.

Does anyone remember the AQA level 1/2 certificates, with topics such as Finaincial management and data analysis; sounds similar to the specifications for Level 3 Core Maths, doesn’t it.

We should all be pushing for a Level 2 Core Maths as the qualification for Post-16 students and leave the GCSE to 16+ exams.