At the start of each year, there is a reflective discussion surrounding grades and success.
For many, there is an element of the “told you so!” happening in both directions.
Should someone who attained a grade three ever be allowed to take higher? I can not remember the actual statistic but I recall is it somewhere around 17% pass higher from a grade three. Even at double this chance, you would only have one kid in three pass.
I got a grade three in English then got my higher. If I ever see “In The Snack Bar” again, I am sure it will bring back a lot of nervous memories as well as the first time I ever heard the word “Formica.” This was when Twin Peaks was at its height and I always think of one of the strange characters from the Blue Rose cases saying that word over and over in undulating tones, perhaps promoting the dullness in to something I was interested in.
So, do I champion all my grade three pupils to sit Higher? No.
The results we achieve are rarely disparate from what we expect and usually relate year on year.
Having completed my first year in my new region, I was particularly keen to make sure I had an outstanding set of results although for the last nine years, in my only two other schools, I was just as obsessed – it is the most quantitive part of our business after all.
My S4, a wonderful class, had several strong characters in it who were just under confident with the world of maths. There were two pupils who were not even aiming for credit so I needed the remaining 21 to achieve gold standard. I am hardly going to write about a major failure in this way so you will be right to assume the 21 get their credit grades.
Positivity makes all the difference, but sharing ideas (often through Pedagoo!) allows me to be more driven to try out new things.
In the past, I have been frustrated with targets. For example, in my last school it was statistically the case that top set class got apx. 75% credit, second set may get 1 credit pupil then third set got no credit pupils.
So what happens when the S4 have 50 more people in it one year? The target remained the same and based on past experience.
It upset me when pupils were placed in set three and their parents knew they could get credit. The choice of textbook is almost zero by the third set, the behavioural expectations were poor so focus was not always there for many nice kids.
I made a “sound” suggestion to the department one year, why don’t we fail everyone?
It is not as daft as it sounds. See, if you fail everyone one year then the target for next year is easy to beat. Then our results increase and we look great.
The suggestion was not taken up, but my point was. And I was promptly given set three for the following year – where we made more credits from set three than set two.
Why? My theory follows shortly.
Setting, in maths, is a fabulous thing if used properly. The argument from the “set three pupils don’t DO credit” believers was that I simply had kids in that set who should have been in the set above, even though the NfER and our own standardisation tests showed this not to be the case.
I am actually a believer in the football style “Transfer Window” with pupils in these situations. If a kid starts to work well with me in set three, why should I punish them by given them different peers, making them bottom of the set above and having a completely different teacher to lead the learning. Some changes are needed, obviously, but one (now retired) colleague always said “you always leave a mess when you support too many kids – weak credit passes who think they should be allowed higher and the STACs look poor the following year as less people pass the int2.”
So my success with set three? An article I read in the Tess around 2004/5.
A school in the Wirral had a policy of knowing the targets for each set and then told teachers they must now teach set three with the targets of set two, etc. the instruction was simple, if not ridiculous. The results were amazing.
I don’t just look to see how many of the Pedagoo Admin crew , or the Pedagurus , are named in the paper each week, I look for simple and effective solutions to targets.
What made the difference with the S4 class this year? Without a doubt, it was using Twitter. You will perhaps recall this from October time. I shared Learning Intentions with my classes on twitter and, in return, they could tweet me questions they needed help with. If I was free, I would answer.
The use of twitter was one I was happy to let evolve, pupil lead but within the EL guidelines. The results, all credit focus pupils got credit. A significant number from the set below passed too. I don’t carry all the merit for the results, as with everything in teaching, it is about blending our approaches.
Your turn now.
New term, results in hand. What did you do to improve your results? Can you share it as a blog or in 140 characters?
Let’s show what impact the positivity of Pedagoo is having.