‘Tick Box Teaching’

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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Today thousands of teachers in the UK are on strike.

I sympathise because education has become a world of what I call “Tick Box” Teaching – where teachers are snowed under with data. Ticking boxes about whether a 5 year old in Year 1 can “ Recognise common graphemes and common alternative pronunciations” in their Guided Reading Sessions.

I have been a teacher most of my adult life – as it was my dream since I was a little girl of 5 and I have been blessed to have been a class teacher, Deputy Head and Head of Departments from English to PSHE.

In my many years of teaching and now travelling into schools training teachers on my One Page Profile process to nurture a child’s self-esteem, I still see hugely dedicated staff, but hugely frustrated, exhausted and defeated teachers constantly judged, obsessed with what Ofsted will say and drowning in paperwork.

The ethos in many schools is one of judgement, fear and an obsession with data.

This is not a great way to motivate staff, enthuse children or develop an atmosphere of excellence.

Children are more than the reading book they are on.

Children are more than a 1c,1b, or 1a level in literacy, maths or science.

Everyone from Head teachers to Governors are continually scrutinising data around grades, labels and sub level progress…… and while of course teachers must be accountable, answerable and show genuine learning progress there must and should be a healthy balance.

The ethos of Ofsted is to judge, demoralise and catch teachers out – it is rarely spoken of with enthusiasm by ordinary, hard working teachers and is certainly not a vehicle for achieving excellence through positive reinforcement, praise and support in its findings.

Teachers live in fear of “the phone call” to say that Ofsted are on their way and that in my opinion stifles confidence, chokes self-esteem and stunts creativity.

Teachers in my experience are a dedicated lot – take a few minutes to drop your child’s Headteacher an email if you are happy with your child’s all round social, emotional and academic progress praising and celebrating your child’s class teacher – as it will lift their morale, make them walk taller and feel like they are valued for doing one of the most important jobs in the world!

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