As Head of Department you’re already juggling a team of teachers, several classes of students and pressure from above – getting to grips with your data might feel like a time-intensive, stressful, tedious task on an endless to-do list. We’ve been there.
In this blog post about the advantages of using a tracker over a spreadsheet, I discussed the stress and anxiety I experienced as a teacher when I didn’t have a tracking system that allowed me to easily see the big picture, to drill down into the details, and to think and plan strategically to improve student outcomes. I know there are still teachers in the same place as I was, living in fear of the unknown when it comes to the summer exam series and how their students are performing in relation to school targets.
Whether we like it or not, we’ve moved to a new age in teaching where accountability has cranked up a notch... or seven! Teacher stress and anxiety related to attainment targets is well-documented and keenly felt across the country. Believe me, I’ve been there: Head Teacher in front of me, Vice Principal to my right, Chair of Governors to my left, Reservoir Dogs soundtrack playing in my head, being subtly reminded that I’m currently only on a one year contract. Then, leaving the meeting to have four million things running through my brain as to how we can’t have the same thing happen again with the current Year 11 cohort, and then the whole cycle of stress beginning just two days into the new school term.
The new Ofsted framework has again sparked debate and heated discussion, but on the whole teachers are considering it to be a step in the right direction. It focuses on delivering a meaningful curriculum and encourages the use of meaningful data when tracking and monitoring progress.
This year has seen the third year of the new 9-1 GCSEs for English & Maths, and the second year for most other subjects. Ofqual said that the first year of the new GCSEs would have Grade Boundaries that would be slightly lower to account for the expected challenges and resulting impact related to delivering a new course. In the second year, we were warned the boundaries would rise. So, what happened to the Grade Boundaries between June 2018 and 2019? And what does it mean for teachers?
The finalised version of the new Ofsted Framework has now been published, which will govern all school visits from September.
The focus on the way internal data is used in schools has dramatically changed. The intentions behind the changes show that Ofsted has taken onboard the advice from Workload Advisory Group Report, and are now asking more powerful questions “about whether schools’ attainment data collections are proportionate, represent an efficient use of school resources, and are sustainable for staff.”
One of the drivers that led me to leave the teaching profession and start Pupil Progress was that I could see the impact an effective tracking and monitoring system would have on my students’ outcomes and my ability to support teachers in my team and do my job as a Head of Faculty.
Getting your department's assessment plan right is crucial to the success of your students, teaching team and, ultimately, the performance of the whole school.
Getting nasty surprises on results day is not ideal but, unfortunately, it does happen. It may be a small group of students, a class, or a whole course, and there are many ways you can slip up with your grade predictions.
The data looks good, the future doesn’t
While writing this blog for Pupil Progress on behaviour management strategies, I started to reflect on student behaviour more generally.