Best practice writing at KS2(8 Posts)
Hope you don't mind me posting here, I am a school governor rather than a teacher. Please let me know if I should post somewhere else!
The junior school where I have just become governor has a real issue with writing with the current Yr4. The majority of the class made very little progress and some went backwards(!) in Yr3. The head says it's not the teaching so I was wondering what it could be and what would good practice look like? They are a bright bunch and on the whole well-behaved and performed well at KS1.
It is the Teacher! Either his/her own literacy skills aren't up to scratch, or his/her formative assessments are inadequately analysed and acted upon. Why else wouldn't the pupils make progress - it is a worry that the Head does not realise this fact...very strange...
At the end of KS1 their levels will have been assessed by their Y2 teacher. All teachers say that the previous teacher inflated their assessments, but if these children were at a different (infant) school, then it is quite possibly true. If they seem to have done exceptionally well in Y2, then look like they are simply average at the end of Y3, it may just be that they are being more realistically assessed now. (Health warning here - assessment of writing, no matter how tick-boxy you make it, will always be subjective to some extent. My school does occasional exercises where we 'level' other teachers' pupils, and the variations in levels are quite shocking.)
If any books have been retained from last year, you could ask to have a look and see for yourself whether they appear to have made progress over the course of the year. Y3 is a year where progress should be easy to recognise - handwriting should improve, and many children can do neat, joined writinbg by the end of the year. Basic sentence punctuation should be being used almost all the time. Children who were competently writing simple sentences at the end of Y2 should be varying their sentence structures a bit and using more ambitious vocabulary. The proportion of words spelled correctly should increase.
If their KS1 results were inflated to that extent, there is definitely malpractice here! When writing assessments are marked internally, e.g. for KS1 or KS2 SATs, there should be an internal moderating team who ensure that results are reasonably sound. If the entire cohort failed to make any progress and, in some cases, actually went backward, the Head should be quite transparent about the whole need for more writing moderation and clear examples of levelling... Sounds very dodgy there!
They don't have to be inflated that much to look as though children have gone backwards. I agree that making no progress is a serious issue, but I also think that teacher assessment is not a science and to make assumptions about a teacher's competence based on a set of 2A's, 3B's etc is dangerous. Examining work over the course of the year would give a governor a much better view of how well, or otherwise, the children have progressed.
If the children were being assessed as they should have been, eg at least once a term, the teacher should have anticipated the low outcomes and put some intervention in place. If the scenario that the OP describes took place in Year 6, OFSTED would be in to investigate the stagnation in achievement...
But the OP doesn't say that it came as a surprise. The teacher quite possibly did notice early on, did regularly assess and did put in place appropriate intervention for any children who needed it ( as opposed to those who 'appeared' to be going backwards). The OP says the head says it is not the teaching - IME (as a governor and as a teacher), most heads are not backwards in criticising teachers and even if the head wanted to remain non-committal about the teacher, to flatly deny that there is a problem with the teaching would seem strange.
What makes you so convinced it is malpractice/poor teaching Pretzels? Dewdrop - do you have any more info?
Well, what else could it be? Children do not ordinarily stagnate or go backwards. Either their grades were ridiculously inflated at the end of the last academic year (and, if that is the case, the Head should get a writing moderating inset together, so that staff understand what each level (and sub-level) looks like), or the teacher didn't take any intervening steps when their levels appeared to dip after each assessment. It could also be that the teacher's literacy skills were not up to scratch and, therefore, she wasn't knowledgeable enough to move the kids on...I know it is anathema to think that teachers like that exist, but let's be honest - they do! What else could it possibly be?
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