Schools are likely to be judged as coasting if they have had three years of weaker progress in Reading, Writing and Mathematics in Year 6. So what can schools do to tackle this issue urgently and with impact? Here are some ideas drawn from our partner schools work done though NAHT Aspire and the Cooperative Challenge.
- Identify and focus on small groups of high priority Year 5 and Year 6 learners. Construct Venn diagrams with three overlapping rings. Place children’s names on the diagram to show whether they are making ‘expected progress’ in three, two, one or none of Reading, Writing & Maths. Select the children that are making expected progress in two of the three subjects. These should give a manageable challenge and a quicker win- but think of them as an object lesson, whatever you do for them will be relevant for a wider group. Put the Venn diagram in the staff room and move the names in line with later assessments.
- Don’t think first about intervention groups. Create Accelerating Progress Learning Sequences. Specify in clear terms the goal you are aiming for and the current skill/ knowledge the learner has as a starting point. Break down the gap into 4 or 5 steps that are returned to each day to rehearse / go over for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Separate out two types of learning outcomes for the target group and for the class as a whole. Foundational– that which children need to be accurate and fluent in, best learned through short frequent sessions, rehearsing correct responses (not errors) and interleaved over time. Conceptual– things that learners need to understand, apply and explain, best learned through experimentation and ‘cognitive replay’ or thinking out loud.
- Use all the wisdom you have in the school. Organise Achievement Team Meetings– regular meetings where teachers can solution plan together. Six teachers will have a lot more ideas than one! And a good idea is likely to be useful in more than one class.
Approaching the problem of progress in these ways addresses the needs of learners now but also promotes professional learning and builds school capacity. The techniques described are covered in detail in our NAHT Aspire and the Cooperative Challenge school partnerships – along with many other aspects of leadership, assessment, pedagogy and ethos.
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Dr. Allan Sigston is the Director of Education Services for EdisonLearning. He has a particular responsibility for bringing together research about learning and organisational development and making it accessible and practical for schools.