10 Scary Facts about School

Future Proof Your Child

  1. Under proposed new assessment guidance for tests for 11 year olds, if your child scores 5 out of 6 for their ability to change nouns to adjectives by adding prefixes/suffixes, they’ll end up with a grand score of 0. For more on this, read this article from the Cambridge Primary Review.
  2. If your child does SATS tests in the next year and beyond, they are expected to be writing, reading and doing maths at a level previously expected of a child at least a year older. The “expected” level has risen dramatically. If they fall short, they will have to resit in Year 7.
  3. The baseline tests given to your child when they are 4 will be used to predict their outcomes aged 16 – a trajectory that completely ignores that children develop at different rates or that in reception class some children are almost a year older than…

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The role of teaching assistants

Class Teaching

The 15 minute forum tonight was led by our SENCO, Carole Marsh.

Assumptions about the effectiveness of teaching assistants

Until recently there has been very little research on the impact of TAs.  Traditional deployment has been based on 2 untested assumptions …

  1. Support from TAs leads to positive outcomes for students … particularly low attaining and those with SEN

2. There are positive effects for teachers

Recent research suggests …

  • Teaching assistants having little impact on student achievement (Hattie)
  • The cost of Teaching Assistants as a support intervention is high (Coe)
  • The problem doesn’t lie with TAs but with the way we ask them to work (Webster)

The ‘Deployment and Impact of Support Staff study’ by the Institute of Education also points to minimal impact on student achievement.  It does however recognise that there are benefits on behavioural, emotional and social development.

Overall, research shows that students in a class with…

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Will Special Schools ever achieve parity with mainstream schools?


Ofsted’s latest Common inspection Framework for September 2015 is now in force. You can read the document here

This framework brings together all educational settings to ensure there is consistency of inspection between Early Years settings, Maintained schools and Academies, Non-Association Independent schools and Further Education skills providers. This includes special schools, Pupil Referral units and Maintained Nurseries.

The emphasis for the new framework is to look at school leaders’ vision, culture and the ethos of the school to see how they provide for their most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people. All children, including those with physical difficulties, learning difficulties and those with profound and complex neurological conditions should make good progress from their starting points. Schools and education establishments are accountable for their progress.

I have blogged previously on the new framework so I don’t need to go in to too much detail here. New short inspections…

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SENCO Assignment (2) – use of additional adults


As requested on Twitter, posted as is. Hope it’s of use to someone!

Things moved on since I wrote this, and I wasn’t able to implement the changes that I had hoped.


A critical analysis, evaluation and comparison of the strategy, policy and practice for an aspect of inclusive education within two diverse schools


I am going to consider the research I have done around the area of need that has identified in school, how another, very different, school handles this, and what we hope to do to move things forwards in school.

Summary of the focus area of the SEND development project

Currently, our learning support assistants are used in class as directed by the teacher and also for some small group intervention work around protective behaviours, precision teaching and emotional/social issues. The school also has two pastoral managers who support children and families in need.


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British Values

Sam Shepherd

Not for the first time, I’m glad I am a teacher and not a home office civil servant. Because I means I don’t have to make an effort to define stuff like British Values. I’m using the capital letters on purpose, you understand: I’m talking here about an official definition. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what is meant by British Values:

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Freedom of speech
  • The rights of all men and women to live free from persecution of any kind.


Normally, I couldn’t care less about this kind of thing except in a pub philosophy kind of way. However, now I have to take a proper, sober interest in such things not only because of the Prevent Duty, which is troublesome at best, but also because of the new common inspection framework, which states that where I work will be assessed…

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Praise Where It’s Due

barrynsmith79's Blog

At my school we have a behaviour system built around merits and demerits. I’ve never been keen on these systems. In lots of schools horrible kids tend to get bucket loads of merits just for sitting in a chair and being slightly less abusive than usual. Lots of nice kids tend to get ignored. The basics of good manners seem to be praised to a ridiculous extent when really they should just be part of the fabric of normal human interactions.

Some teachers hand out merits like dolly mixtures. Some just can’t be bothered. Then of course there are those schools that tell you for every negative comment you must give four positives. How on earth anyone is supposed to track that stuff I’ll never know. Also logging merits on the computer is a pain. And of course, give it a few month into Year 7 and the appeal of…

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In search of silence…


We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do’s and don’t’s; we need books, time and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but once upon a time lasts forever.


Silence; It’s a hot topic at my school – rationalising it, achieving and maintaining it – and, probably as a result, I am increasingly aware of both the value and the absence of it, in education and in general. It is a peculiar thing, really; the most intangible of abstract concepts, disappearing as soon as its existence is stated… it is impossible to know for sure what it contains for anyone other than yourself. It is the absence of something as opposed to a ‘thing’ in its own right, and yet it can hold and communicate so much. It is a void full of possiblies and possibilities… a resource so potentially readily available and yet, seemingly…

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