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.
It should come as no shock that many teachers find their roles stressful and parents evening can just be one of many triggers for stress. As a teacher you have a very important role to play and at parents evening you may feel that you have to justify your way of teaching, explain to parents issues that their child has which they may find upsetting or be put on the stop answer questions which you may not have had time to consider.
Parent’s evenings are often carried out when we feel tired and hungry and this will not help stress levels. Always make sure you have a drink and have a chance to get something to eat prior to starting.
It is very important to make a good first impression, when any parent walks in to the room, stand up, shake their hand and smile. This alone can often diffuse a situation before it has even arisen if the parents feel angry about something.
Always make sure that you have made notes on each child. Be careful what and how you write these notes as the parents may be able to read them. Also it is advisable to write notes for each child on a different page, so that other parents can’t read something about another pupil as this could be seen as lack of privacy.
More and more schools are introducing online based systems to track and report on the pupil’s progress. In reception, for example, children are required to show that they can confidently carry out such tasks in accordance with the EYFS (early year’s foundation stages). Teachers often use a system online that they can upload evidence of children completing such tasks, such as photos taken or project they have made. This is not only a great way to record information to show to Ofsted etc, but also allows the parents of that child to log in and view recent topics they have been doing and see their child’s work from that day or week.
The systems often also allow you to upload images and comments to a topic or even create a new one to share back with the teacher. This allows the teacher to be able to chat to the child about things that they have been doing outside of school too.
If your school doesn’t currently use a system like this, why not suggest it in the next meeting you have to see if it is something they may consider implementing.
The government are introducing more and more steps to tracking the progress of pupils. This is often looked at on a whole either as a county or as an individual school so it is often hard to find out how your child is doing based on the results published.
The introduction of baseline assessments has given some parents an idea of where their child’s learning is at but some parents and teachers feel that this is done in a way that is not favourable to the children.
The best time to get a true understanding of your child’s education is during a one on one meeting with their teachers as you can then find out specifically how your child is learning in each subject, points that they need to work on and subjects that they are particularly good at.
If you have missed a parents evening, then I would strongly recommend seeing if there is a suitable time for you to come in and meet with their teacher to discuss their progress.
It can be very difficult to measure the effectiveness of any system involving a significant human element. The education system is definitely one such system. Having any means of measurement with some reliability is to be applauded, although finding a perfect tool of measurement is impossible. But, having looked at some useful metrics, we can see patterns arise from the data. For instance, Norway is usually one of the top countries for all means of measurements in the PISA statistics. One such measurement that they are number one in is the number of years that people of a specific age have spent in education. This is useful, as it allows us to assume how much time people have dedicated to education. Being well situated in the rankings would indicate that education is a priority in your nation. This dedication is largely responsible for the successes of the Norwegian model, with them having some of the highest paid teachers in the world, as well as a relaxed internal proficiency tests, in favour of dedicating their students time toward learning their specific subjects.