Bright Teachers

Teaching, educationand education aides blog

SEND issues in mainstream school

As a classroom teacher you may be required to teach children with additional needs alongside their peers who are following the curriculum as set out in the National Curriculum. This can be difficult to manage without additional support in the classroom. Currently in education it is felt that children with additional needs are best placed in a mainstream school and given one to one support but financially for the school this may not be feasible unless there is additional funding in place.

Teachers often need to prepare additional materials to make the curriculum accessible for children with additional needs and this can be time consuming if it involves enlarging text or adapting resources. A teaching assistant may be available to help with this at the start of the day or even at the start of the week if possible.

It is essential with all children to develop a good relationship with their parents and carers, but this is especially important with the parents of children with additional needs who may feel anxious about their child’s progress. A team approach is beneficial to everyone concerned in the academic progress and happiness of pupils so good communication skills and a compassionate outlook is essential on behalf of the teacher.

Is more testing the way to boost achievement?

Statutory and more informal assessments have become commonplace in Primary schools now and it appears that this will increase even more but is this approach actually improving academic achievement or could the time spent on testing and assessment be used more profitably.

Most teachers know that not all children learn the same way. Some learn better when they are required to memorise facts off by heart, learning by rote, whilst other children learn more if the context is a practical one, so they get to see the purpose of their learning. The problem with the testing regimes that are common in Primary school is that they focus more on learning facts by rote. If the child who is being tested has a poor memory or finds concentrating for long periods of time difficult they are at a disadvantage. The whole system is geared towards children who are academic but is unfair for the children who struggle with more traditional learning methods.

A child’s achievement and intelligence cannot be measured accurately by continually assessing them and although teachers know that some assessment is necessary to determine future curriculum planning, time would be better spent on planning inspiring lessons which would benefit all pupils.

Should children be put in to sets for Maths and English?

Currently most secondary schools’ split children up in to sets for Maths and English but this has recently started to filter through to some primary schools who have decided to adapt this way of teaching. Splitting children in to sets is often a bit of a controversial topic in which not all parents and teachers agree upon. Many parents worry that their child will be upset if they are in a bottom set for a subject and may not bother trying. They also may feel that their child has been put in the incorrect set for their ability level.

Working in sets can have a lot of advantages for pupils and teachers. It allows the teacher to tailor the work very specifically to the skill set of the group. Rather than having to create multiple pieces of work for the different abilities within the classroom, they can put all their effort in to creating one piece for everyone. They may also be able to spend more time with a child if needed as the lower sets may well have more TA’s or helpers in the class.

Pupils won’t feel out of their depth and overwhelmed by being given work that is too hard for them and also won’t feel bored or not put effort in as the work is too easy.

Parents call for less testing more learning

Over the past decade or so more and more tests have been bought in to schools leaving many parents feeling that their child is being put under unnecessary pressure.

Many parents and teachers are pushing for the government to look into the number of exams and tests that young people have to endure as not only are the exams and test getting more frequent but also more intense and pass rates are often dropping due to the high expectations.

Some students simply do not respond well to exams. They may be excellent in class but when it comes to exams, go to pot. For these students, introducing more exams is especially hard as it may make them look like they are not competent.

Many subjects are now made up of part practice and part written to allow the students who struggle with exams to still do well.

Teachers often have to spend too much time teaching children how to pass exams rather than teaching them the skills and experience they need in the working world. With children being tested within the first few years of school life, surely this needs to be changed.

A National Education Service? What is it?

To a teacher, the idea of a National Education Service, independent of Government, probably sounds like music to the ears, and it’s certainly an idea on the table, a core of the Corbynite Labour policy.

But what would it mean, actually, in practice? It’s all undeniably vague, but the hope would be an evidence, and teacher-lead service, designed to educate and develop rather than to train and instil corporate values.

Essentially the biggest criticism of a Corbynite government is that it is huge on ideas, but lacking on detail and delivery, but honestly, to me – that remains the beauty of it. The detail can, and should, be worked out by the deliverers, not left to political whims, interferences and devices.

I didn’t learn free thought from school, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone does. But everyone should. That would be my hope for a National Education Service. A basic device to instil critical thought in everyone.

I have a friend who touts the idea of National Service; but rather than military service, Community Service. Setting a tone for your place in society and integrating, realising that we all have to take care of each other.