Tag Archives: curriculum

Getting staff to lead by @Mroberts90Matt

Recently I read a tweet from someone (I wish I had taken a snapshot or retweeted or something but I didn’t) which posed the question: “As a leader, should you encourage your best teachers to lead more or keep them performing at their absolute best for the school you are in?” I have paraphrased the question but the meaning behind it matches what they asked. I’m sure they were asking to develop discussion.

First of all I guess that this question is dependant on the teacher’s desires to lead. I mean, I’m sure there are many teachers who are brilliant at their job but who want stay in the classroom doing what they do best, teaching. I remember reading another tweet which I found ironic but very true: teaching is one of those few professions where the better you get at the job, the less you do it. When I think of our SLT this certainly is true. They are strong, model practitioners but their responsibility on the SLT requires them to be out of the classroom more than other teaching staff. As such – a responsibility leading standards through the wider school may not be a goal for all.

However, whilst not a non-negotiable as such, subject leadership is expected of most teaching staff. In this role, all teaching staff are given an opportunity to develop skills in leadership. They take responsibility of this subject and how it can develop at the school. Subject leadership can see the curriculum transform at a school, or slip slowly into mediocrity. The question is – how can subject leadership develop the knowledge and skills of the leader themselves?

1. Glimpsing the Bigger Picture

As a member of staff are given the role of playing a wider part in school development, they start to see how vital their subject is to the vibrant life in a school. They also recognise the planning, preparation and impact their direct leadership has on the children in the school through their subject. Subject leaders are required to evidence progress in their subject and as they do, they begin to recognise the importance of information and data from around the school. This understanding will then support an appreciation for effective, necessary educational change later on.

2. Enhancing Own Practice

As a subject leader, there begins to be a recognition of the need to improve own practice. An effective leader recognises the impact of their practice on those around. They need to model excellence in teaching and learning, at least in the subject area they lead. As they do this, they can begin to recognise areas they can develop in other subject areas and as such, use their experience as a leader to improve their own practice. This experience could be likened to the leader being encouraged to raise the bar on their practice so they can influence others to do the same and see an impact in their subject area.

3. Develop Self-Awareness and Confidence

Without experience in leading a subject area, it can be difficult for practitioners to develop skills and expertise in a way that brings their practice into a spotlight. I know that as I was offered the opportunity to lead PE and Sport in my school, I was horrified at the thought. I had never planned and taught a PE lesson independently never mind led the subject across a 2-3 form entry school! However, after research, observations and practice, I have developed in my confidence in delivering this subject in my own practice. Whilst this has improved my PE teaching, it has done much more! I feel much more confident in my ability to take on further challenges in my professional life as I have seen the successes of my leadership. This is the potential power of getting staff to lead – the opportunity to improve self-confidence and the recognition that they have the professional ability to influence positive change in their own practice and those around them.

So, in conclusion, it is vital that teachers are given the chance to lead. Yes it is necessary to ensure excellence in all areas of the curriculum (one cannot do it alone) but there are more, impressive outcomes from empowering staff to lead the curriculum in a school. They become more aware of the bigger picture in the school, they enhance their own practice in general and recognise the power they have as a practitioner.

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We Asked Nicky… by @Mroberts90Matt

Today I stumbled across an event that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed up until half an hour before it!

A chance to ask questions to and hear instant feedback from the Secretary of State for Education! I’m in! And in I was…

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45 minutes later and what had we learnt? Well, I’ll try to give my rundown of what I learnt – I’m sure many people will have picked out other things so this will not be an exhaustive list:

1. Teacher Recruitment has been recognised as a need

This was helped by the fact that just before this went live, a study was revealed that teacher training applications have dropped by 12%. I think that there are some pretty obvious answers that could be given to go towards solving this issue – all falling under making teaching more appealing or attractive – but at least it has been noted and something will be done to entice and inspire more people to become excellent teachers.

2. Nicky Morgan must not have a clue about the current climate of others’ educational views

When asked why there was not as much educational discussion in the General Election campaigns, we were told that this was probably because there was a lot of agreement on education. I am presuming this was referring to agreement amongst the political parties. I know someone who was running for Parliament for Labour in another region…this was clearly not the case. Labour do not have the same views in education, as far as I am aware with my fairly limited knowledge of politics. That one went past me…

3. Contradictions surrounding teaching as a ‘profession’ and allowing unqualified teachers

One big issue I have with the current government and their policies on education is free schools – and the main thing I have issue with free schools about is the option to employ unqualified teachers. We are being constantly told to raise standards and achievement in schools (and rightly so) but how can this be accomplished if more and more people who are unqualified to teach are teaching the nation’s upcoming generation? Nicky mentioned a few times the need to restore teaching as a profession…this will NOT happen as long as teachers do not need to be qualified – it is a major contradiction!

4. No budging on EBACC

When quizzed about EBACC and allowing the arts to have more weighting in the curriculum, this was pretty much rebuffed – the reason being that Universities are looking for the traditional academic subjects…but as was very well pointed out ‘Not everyone goes to University’. I love Maths, I can really get into English, I am fascinated by Science – but there MUST be an opportunity for a wider range of subject content. Nicky did point out that up until KS3 children should be getting a broad and balanced curriculum and then students can decide to have options in the ‘art’ subjects. Yet – as a Year 6 teacher – I know that even at the end of KS1 and KS2 (because of assessment and data) it is not as broad and balanced as it should be.

Q: Will there be any changes made as a result of this live discussion?

Probably not. I would have loved to see Nicky hear some of the comments given in and sincerely think about what could be done differently to what is currently being done (because some things do need to change) – but I was probably a little naïve for thinking that would happen in this setting. Maybe something said will spark a thought, maybe not – but something that was said promising to hear…

One of Nicky’s self-prescribed appraisal targets is to listen more.

Will this ‘listening’ be a “that’s very interesting, now let me go and do what I was doing before” or a “hmm…that’s an interesting idea, maybe we can work with that”? Hopefully it will be the latter and I for one quite enjoyed the opportunity to hear our Education Secretary speak and voice her side of things, rather than the cynicism that can be down heartening about education.

We will soon see…

Teacher Voice Weekly Poll w/b 9th February 2015

Not quite Weekly right now but trying to keep up!!

So, I have just posted my thoughts after attending a Level 6 Reading and Writing Conference and want to know what you think about Level 6!

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Should Level 6 continue to be an indicator of a successful school? Should there still be the pressure for more children to reach this target (or whatever target the New Curriculum Assessment will throw up) in the future?

Please, share this with others and we’ll get a good idea about the general feel of this area of assessment!

Reflect on this… by @Mroberts90Matt

Recently my guest blog on @TeacherToolkit’s blog concerning self-assessment was publicised and it generated some interest again, which was pleasing to see. In the past it has also generated comments on other professional views on self assessment and how it can be made more effective.

However, this time I received a comment from @slrbass who said that in education we simply do not have time to give children the time to practise being reflective. I can’t help but feel a lot of truth in this, especially as a Year 6 teacher.
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There is so much content to cover in the Curriculum that thinking skills such as reflective thinking are pushed to the side. Despite this, should it not be a goal of an educator to actively encourage their students to think about their learning – take action in their learning rather than having it acted upon them with no thought? I can’t help but wonder if a child who is trained to reflectively consider their learning is put with a child who doesn’t think about their learning if there would be a difference between to two.

The only issue with this is that, unless we can clone a child and keep them in the same room, ant research into whether reflective thinking improves learning is always going to be skewed – so many factors in a child’s life affect learning making it difficult to say what affects learning categorically.

photo credit: srsphoto via photopin cc

Supply Teacher – Week One

OK, I’ve only had two postings this week due to personal and family obligations, but as with teaching, there was plenty to learn. After having agonised over preparing a selection of emergency lessons, there were things planned. This was a relief, although I couldn’t help being a bit by the setup of the first post I had.

I will not be naming the school here and no one reads my blog who would know what school I was at, but this was the day: Maths, Writing, Writing, Assembly. This was not simply because there was a supply in on the day, but I looked at the class timetable and that was the normal Wednesday! Not only this, but the other days were fairly similar. In short, it was not good. Behaviour was awful. Now of course, I was expecting more ‘resistance’ as a supply teacher, but the class was barely on task. I had been warned by other Uni colleagues who had worked there about the behaviour issues in the school in general, so of course, this behaviour was a mixture of a number of things.

I cannot help but think that the curriculum planned for the children is an element of the general behaviour problems in the school (leaving my bad experience behind). I am in no position to say that the curriculum is not delivered in an engaging manner. However, when large portions of most days are spent on one or two areas of the curriculum with little variation, I imagine it can become a little stifling.

I’m looking forward to the remaining weeks of the half term as a supply teacher because it will hopefully provide me with the opportunity to see a large number of schools and collate some of the good practice that I observe going on.

Just some ramblings from the week…