Journey through the centre of education
During my time in education the term journey is one that I have heard and used numerous times. The term is used to describe a student’s passage through a school and the various key stages. It gives the sense that the student is on a quest of development as their year’s progress.
A student’s journey is one that has been assessed and contemplated many a time within schools and by Ofsted. The term is mainly used in comparing students’ progress and attainment from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 and then finally at Key Stage 4. Especially at Key Stage 4 it’s difficult to evaluate the journey made from KS3, due to progress not being as linear as in KS3. To judge a student’s progress through secondary school is essential to judge the success of the various key stages schemes of work and the consistency of teaching.
Schools have been analysed and evaluated against the general trajectory of student’s journeys by key stakeholders such as local authorities and governors for many years. Also Ofsted have evaluated students’ progress over the key stages alongside results to form their judgements. However it seems with the various educational changes that the journey will become less important in analysing the effectiveness and success of a school. Judgments of schools will focus on solely the destination, the result of the journey not the points along it
Mr Gove has kept everyone in the educational sector “busy” with the abundance of changes announced in the last couple of years. He stated one of his key visions was to get away from the notion that schools have become exam factories that solely focus on grades and not the breath and understanding of learning. However I feel some of the changes have gone against his vision and will simply dilute the focus on the key points along a student’s progression through school and only add to the estimation of where that student will be when they take their exam. In a way some of the changes will simply grease the examination factory cogs.
Below I have stated some of the changes which will take away from a student’s journey and will mean their destination is at the core of their learning and assessment.
Removal of Levels – With the scrapping of levels schools will likely try to develop assessment grading scales that directly flow from KS3-4. Obviously with the removal of levels this takes away the requirement for schools to inform local authorities concerning KS3 figures. So there will be no national data from when a student’s sits their KS2 to KS4 exams.
Also the changes to scaled scores at KS2 will lead to an uncertainty of where a student will sit when they enter at KS3 and how the two key stages link. The change will take the focus off KS3 as such in terms of points progress currently from KS2 and will likely again provide just assessment points with the end point of Y11 in mind, even in Y7/8. Having the difference of KS3 levels and KS4 grades ensured there was a separation in dialogue and context however this will be a thing of the past.
Dilution of KS2/3 Curriculum –Due to not being a teacher myself and having an in-depth knowledge of the new KS3 and 4 national curriculums I cannot go into great detail. However colleagues have informed me the new KS3 national curriculums are very brief and simply act as guides always with the aim of on content and link to the KS4 national curriculum.
Changes to Ofsted Teacher observations – With the stance taken from Ofsted on grading observations and the perception of no one teaching style being the correct one, even more emphasis is put on schools previous results and the insights formed from Raiseonline. The stance seems to have taken the pressure off school staff during the inspection process in a way (repeat in a way!). It seems some of the emphasis has been taken off the lessons observed and more on the success of results. If a schools results show attainment and progress far exceeding national and the teaching shows students progressing and learning in whatever style, the judgment should be the one desired. Again this stance takes away from the evaluation of a journey and takes the sole lead from results.
Progress 8 –Due to the main performance measures relying on 8 subjects from 2016 I have met with some schools who have stated they possibly will enrol students for simply 8 subjects. Students will enter in Y7 and study the same 8 subjects throughout their time in the school. Not a strategy I agree with myself as students aren’t treated as individuals in terms of their interests or needs but I have heard this mentioned.
The links to KS5 – Again with a shift in the last couple of years to the Level 3 Value added report being the main benchmark for Ofsted to judge the quality and performance of a 6th form, more emphasis is put on both KS4/5 results. Previously with KS5 results being standalone ie % A Level A*-B not being linked to progress from a student’s KS4 results. The possible two result windows of student’s secondary lifespan are now a reflection of KS5 judgment.
Is your destination the one mapped out?
With such importance on simply results figures, schools need to assess and evaluate how they track cohorts and the gaps within them. For example how secure would you say your school is with the predictions/estimates staff currently gives for student’s likely performance at KS4/5? Secondary education is aimed to provide a platform to allow students to progress through the stages of learning, ensuring you have effective system/tools and more importantly people will result in the destination being the one desired.
Thank you for reading
Please leave your thoughts you may agree/disagree or just critique my KS3 writing style all are welcome.