Friday, October 9, 2020

Examining programmes

Programmes for each year group are developed over many years.  Redesigning them from scratch is a time consuming task and has the potential to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

There are a number of models that I have seen being used.  The model I'm faced with has left me challenged and has been driven by streaming at the school and an aim to make teaching easier, freeing up time for intervention with students.

In Term 1 and 2, Number and Algebra is done in each year group. In Term 3 everyone does Measurement.  In Term 4 everyone does Probability and Statistics.  Some of the programmes are simply the outcomes listed in order, with texts identified next to each topic. It helps with sharing material as everyone is basically doing the same thing at the same time.  Tests are set and everyone does the same test in each pathway.  Each test appears to be rewritten from scratch each time.

I must admit I scratched my head at this model.  It was obvious the difficulty ramped by midyear and dropped at the start of Term 3 and Term 4.  A group of students in each class disengaged as they fell of the programme and the work became too difficult.  Retention of material, year to year, was not apparent - especially in senior school.  Problem solving was not strongly developed resulting in a lower than expected number of students attempting ATAR courses or performing well in ATAR courses. Together with the current streaming model and in consultation with other HOLA's and SWS it appears the programmes and structure set are not inline with current teaching practices and needed attention.

After a bit of a review, I stated that I wished for this to change to the team and that NA be set as the backbone for material over the year with M and PS applying concepts taught in each NA unit providing context for ideas presented.  The problem was how to implement it..  and this required some thought.  

My initial idea was to set year groups to teachers in groups with an objective of rewriting them slowly over 6 months.  This method has been singularly unsuccessful.  One alternative was for me to sit down (again) and write a series of programmes for all streams.  The main issue that I have found with this approach is a lack of ownership by the teaching group which leads to a lack of future development and analysis of the programmes.  In a team critical of change, it had the potential for a blame game rather than a incremental improvement model to be developed.

So I took a long view instead.  I took the most difficult year (Year 10) and will rewrite this one myself (and will need to incrementally rewrite it over the next four years as students adjust to new teaching pedagogy, starting in Year 7).  As I will be teaching in Year 10 for some time, I can ensure that this gets ongoing review.  Secondly I set the most progressive teachers to redevelop the Year 7 programme and then found a PD from SWS later in the year that would help them develop an engaging course.  I can then work with them to analyse how each course progresses and develop an evidence based approach to teaching, whilst encouraging development of the course with engagement and instructional techniques needed to advance students optimally. Once these two year groups are established in 2021, I can look at the remaining two year groups that require development.

A big part of the new model has to be how grades are allocated (giving meaning to pathway grades), how students are assessed (broadening the methodology for assessment), how SEN reporting is used and how EAs are used to support learning in the classroom. 

Now that the main idea is set, hopefully it will gain traction.

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