Grouping pupils by ability has been the subject of debate for many years, often reflecting the ideological positions of those doing the debating rather than any hard empirical evidence. In fact, most of the evidence is that setting to enable differentiated teaching according to pupil ability does not actually have any impact on achievement.
Of course, your experience might be different – mine certainly is. At the Special School where I am Head of Key stage 4, our pupils are mostly autistic, and have complex needs and challenging behaviour. Class sizes are small. Key stage 4 has two classes, one with just six pupils and the other with seven. Let’s take my Year 11 class, the one with six, as an example. I have two pupils at around P7 to 8 (below NC level 1), who are non-verbal and have severe learning difficulties. I have another student around NC 1, one at NC 2, one at NC 4 and one at NC 5. With an ability spread like that, what sense would it make to educate them together?
The answer to the problem was to look at the outcomes that we wanted to work towards. The NC 4 and 5 learners needed GCSE courses, especially Maths and English, to allow them to access mainstream FE courses and even A levels. The NC 2 learner would be best suited by an ASDAN Personal & Social Development Course with Functional Maths and Literacy at Entry 1 or 2 level, that would provide a route to a supported learning course at an FE college. For the least able the destination would most probably a supported living placement that might have an adult education component.
When you think about the range of outcomes we were looking at, it is clear that a personalised approach – taking streaming to the ‘n’th degree – will give these learners the best chance of success.
Fairley Allan, Head of Key Stage 4
What makes us successful in schools?
I have talked and written before about how it is up to anyone as a leader to help “set the weather” by what we say and do each and every day. At the recent Inspiring Success conference this was reinforced by a fantastic session led by Andy Buck who is best known for his work with ULT and now has setup Leadership Matters.
I will try and capture some of the themes of the talk and share a few reflections on it’s impact. I have included the themes of the presentation and used examples to bring to life some of the ideas that were discussed.
Leadership for performance – how all leaders can create the conditions for success – Andy Buck – Leadership Matters / ULT
How do we create climate and culture that has an impact for children?
How do we create the culture for learning for students…
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An insight into teaching and being Headteacher’s as siblings…
I have recently been asked by my old school to write something on Headship as I am blessed by the fact that I have been privileged to have worked with (and for!) my brother in our career in teaching. So how did we both end up as Catholic Headteachers in the same Diocese, therefore having a family representation of 18% of the total of Catholic state secondary heads?
What was it in our experience at Worth that led us in this direction? I have thought carefully about what led me towards teaching. At the heart of this are three core formative aspects of this journey.
1. An inspirational role model – one of my English teachers, called George Daly was a person who “lit the fire” for me when it came to learning, motivation and identity. He was someone who was passionate about all he did ranging from his teaching…
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It’s time to apply for school direct! An insight into the joy of teaching.
I was recently asked by the University of Sussex (@UniofSussex) to speak briefly at a local recruitment event. In essence I had to get across why teaching was so special to me and I entitled the talk “The best job in the world…?” As we prepare for the next round of School Direct recruitment which opens on UCAS tomorrow I thought it was worth sharing my thoughts.
- You make a difference every day – so many jobs seem to become routine and mundane. People get bored of the monotony or lack of challenge. In teaching we have a unique responsibility and opportunity to genuinely make a life-changing difference every single day. When life gets tough for young people often it is school that provides the “glue” to hold it all together. We can provide the consistency and care that can inspire our students to make the most of their potential…
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Ofsted has updated its Ofsted Schools Data Dashboard again. It released the new OSDD on April 8th, finalising the 2013 results for Key Stages 1, 2 and updating the Key Stage 4 results from 2012 to 2013. This time, the Ofsted website hasn’t made a big song and dance about it. Perhaps they have realised how hopeless it is? No, I’m afraid not. It’s back, and even more misleading, uninformative and daft than before.