Ending the week where we delight in seeing our children flood back into our school gates, we are now back to business and set to pick up the pieces. Perhaps at this stage it is all too easy to feel that we are back at the start of the year once more. Children who we haven’t seen for 3 months contain the mystery: ‘How much have they learned?’ Even fearing they haven’t engaged with home learning, we may wonder: ‘How much have they retained?’
With all the talk of lost learning and the need to increase teaching hours drastically to save a generation of school children’s education, you would think that the answer to both these questions is a resounding: ‘Very little’. The reality is indeed far from that truth and more accurately the picture is simply: ‘Widely varied.’
Schools are devoting their professional skills in exactly the right areas at the moment, namely, getting children settled once more into the routines of school: supporting the anxious, calming the exuberant, coaxing the withdrawn and of course applying the rigorous social distancing rules and communicating efficiently with parents.
The next step is to rapidly assess the children and prepare the plans for a forward momentum. What teachers know will not work is simply to restart at lesson number x, spring term or to pick up where they left off at Christmas. The key is to identify where the gaps are for the children, to finely tune the content delivered in the classroom to maximise the impact and progress. It is at this point that schools who invest a little extra in time efficient tracking systems will be feeling rightly smug; they have what they need to move forward.
Let’s consider the best next steps in utilising a tool such as Educater.
Tracking with stars
If you mark the individual objectives on the core curriculum, you will at least have a picture of the attainments from the Autumn term. Starting with that, it is worth using the KPI Gaps in Learning Report to focus on those core pillars of learning that were not marked thus far in the year. Begin then by preparing some review lessons on any of those Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) whose content has been covered to any extent during this lockdown period. This allows formative assessment of the security of that learning. By the Easter break it is reasonable to aim to have the star achievements updated and thus create a secure judgement of attainment. In addition, by the Easter break a detailed medium-term plan for the next term can have been formulated focussing firstly on those KPI’s.
(If you are unclear on using or editing your KPI’s, do book some time with one of our Education Consultants, a very worthwhile investment)
Using Teacher Judgement
If you have not been using the star judgements, then the focus might instead be on a range of skilfully designed lessons for the teacher to secure their own judgement. Do remember, that even when your teachers make their own judgements, it is very easy to use the stars alongside this, even if only for this interim period. (Again, invest in some advice if you are unsure how to adapt your system)
Leadership and Accountability
With billions of extra funding going into schools, leadership know that they will be called to account for how the money was spent. Now is the time to be clear about where the children are at in order to be able to track the progress in the coming months and years. It is time to check baselines, to triangulate data and reassure your confidence in it.
We are not back to where we started, far from it. We have moved lightyears forward in our understanding of home schooling, we have gained new skills in flexibility and crowd management and our IT capabilities are greater than ever. Time to embrace the changes and enjoy the rest of the school year.
Author: Karen Thompson