Teaching Assistants: The Dangers of teaching by echo

The role of the TA is among the most controversial in schools. However, much of the debate focuses on numbers, not what TAs do. TAs undertake a vital role to ensure inclusion of pupils with special needs and disability. However, there is too much concentration on TA supporting learning which all too often ends up as ‘teaching by echo’, rather than preparing children for learning, so they can engage with the teaching first hand. Continue reading

Teaching empathy to move beyond our bubble

The word of the week seems to be  ‘bubble’ Not the soft soapy kind that children play with or that helps us to clean, but a hard, impermeable shell that stops us from understanding and knowing each other. The leaders in two schools, I have worked in this week, have spoken about ‘our school bubble’.  By this they mean that they are a good school in a nice, affluent area and so, for some members of their community, there is no perceived need for change. This ‘niceness’ both prevents the children (and their parents) from wanting to know about the world and creates a feeling they need to be protected from it. Continue reading

Access Arrangments: Levelling the Playing Field?

Recently, the exam regulator, Ofqual, reported one in five pupils at independent schools benefit from access arrangements for GCSE and ‘A’ levels, which is significantly higher than those who received the special measure in state schools where the figure is fewer than one in eight. For me this raises concerns in 3 areas:

  • An equality issue
  • What is the differences between an access arrangement and a reasonable adjustment?
  • Do access arrangements help to ‘level the exam playing field’?

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