Saturday, 10 December 2011

It's all about attitude, not ability...

"Who in here considers themselves the average pupil?"
Hands go up.
"Good, consider yourself achieving your target grade or thereabouts come the end of the year"
"Who in here considers themselves below average?"
Hands go up.
"Anything you can do about that?"
Heads shake from side to side.
"That's definitely not the case, and will lead to you underachieving massively."
"Anyone consider themselves above average?"
Nothing.
"Well, that's depressing. Maybe some of you might think about how much more you can do, then..."

An actual conversation I had with year 8 set 3 this week. The same would go for 9 set 3, 10 set 5 and 11 set 5. I can pretty much say that those with the best attitudes will achieve above target and those who consider themselves below average without a chance will underachieve. Unfortunately, being a teacher at an inner city school, anything below set 2 throws up some very disengaged children.

There were 2 who said that they can't do anything about it, by the way, and those 2 didn't show up to parents' evening. It follows, to be fair. Staffroom discussion one night this week centred around kids' attitudes and the parents that bring them up. Overwhelmingly, the outcome was 'on the odd occasion, there are good parents with a kid who has gone off the rails, but typically, disinterested kids have rubbish parents'.

I teach 11 set 5. Half of them moved down a set throughout/after year 10 as members of sets 5 and 6 achieved higher than them. Their FFT grades are Cs (12), Ds (8) and Es (2). Currently, they have 13 Ds and 9 Es - 5 at their FFT and 1 above. I am hoping for 12 Cs by the end of the year, but can trust about 5 of them to get on in a lesson with any problems. Their resits come back on January 12 and I'm hoping for a much healthier picture than this, but not expecting miracles.

This horribly negative post is leading to 'What can I do to get these kids through to KS4 without falling behind?'.
A GTP student is currently taking my 7 set 1. To say that they are setted, their KS2 attainment is horribly wide ranging from 4.5 to 5.8, but they're a great set of kids to teach and mostly switched on during lessons.
I discussed with him the idea of a 'KS3+ after school class' with the intention being to invite kids with the best attitudes to stay behind and build on what they have already.
I'll get 6 tables together, to allow seating for 16 and invite 15 kids from my classes (5 from years 7, 8 and 9, a mixture of boys and girls). I'll get some drinks in and some snacks, and we can work through investigations and explore and discuss maths at around level 6/7.

After the first few weeks, I intend to start rolling it out to others in the classes who may be a little disengaged and lazy and by the end of the year I hope to have had every kid back at least once.

I'll be sure to update on here.

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