Focus on Teaching Not Grades!

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What if teaching and learning is no-longer a priority for schools?

What do our politicians know about our schools and our classrooms? When last did some of them actually command the attention of 30 students, mark a piece of homework or break up a fight in the playground?

No?

Me neither …

And could the same be said for most OfSTED inspectors?

Whilst I accept that there is a General Election imminent and this post is not a priority. And with Purdah starting next week, we are unlikely to hear of any new announcements or final decisions on education consultations from the Department for Education over the next 6-8 weeks. It is important to keep the dialogue going. It is also likely that we will have a new Secretary of State for Education on 9th or 10th June 2017 or thereabouts.

In many ways, we may have to start all over again with policies being handed over from one person to the next. That said, there is still much to do to fix funding, assessment and accountability in our schools and education desperately needs some continuity from the top.

No More Teaching and Learning

Last term, I posted this tweet to remind readers that OfSTED and the Department for Education proposed in their White Paper: Education Excellence Everywhere (March 2016).

… OfSTED will consult on removing the separate graded judgments on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to help clarify that the focus of inspection is on outcomes.”

You’d be forgiven if you had forgotten. Now, I know it’s not a green paper and that the majority of the information in the document was under the tenure of Nicky Morgan’s (MP), however, I wonder how much of this document has been implemented over the past 12 months. Has anyone looked into the 128-page details and how much has been actioned?

Over 12 months later, I haven’t seen any consultation on teaching and learning being removed from the OfSTED framework. Have you? In fact, the Department for Education have not been very good at consultations or publishing findings for that matter. So, why bother expressing your views?

Teachers like you and I are subject to the ‘big external machine‘ that determines how well we are doing, what we need to do to be better and how we should be doing it. Wouldn’t it be good for all of us if we stopped celebrating the machine?

Teaching or Data?

If you’ve been teaching for 10 years or more, how different is the classroom now to when you first started? Are you still enjoying being in the classroom? I suspect your enjoyment has decreased. It is therefore essential that we have our voices heard. For me, the number one concern that will impact on every teacher, school leader and school across England, is if this happens – paragraph 7.20, page 109:

OfSTED will consult on removing the separate graded judgments on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to help clarify that the focus of inspection is on outcomes and to reduce burdens on schools and teachers.”

This screenshot is from page 104.

Without knowing it, are we taking away the joy of teaching and learning, if we remove assessing the quality of teaching and learning in inspections? Instead, we focus on data alone. We already have a recruitment crisis. Moving teachers away from teaching to data-control will only stifle teachers’ creativity and quell their thirst for working with children.

Have Your Say!

It is certainly not a set of good grades, a report or focusing in on data that floats my boat. How often are we focused on progress, impact, learning in replace for love, passion and interest? Or students enjoying ‘being in school’ or ‘enjoying being part of their school community?’

Very little at the moment, because these are factors we cannot measure. If we cannot measure abstract, we cannot hold teachers to account. And just like the EBacc consultation, we stifle the creative subjects because it is more difficult to measure the creative side of our curriculum, nor back its importance within our classrooms.

We are still waiting for our government to report on these important consultations. More importantly, we are not being heard. And if you don’t have ‘your say’, we’re unlikely to change the profession for the better.

Get involved:

If you’d like to keep up to date which any consultation on education, find out more or sign up for email alerts. There is a crucial one open for Primary Assessment now.

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of being most influential in the field of education. He remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing resources and ideas online as @TeacherToolkit, he has built this website (c2008) which has been described as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the UK Blog Awards (2018). Read more...

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