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Hacked off, am I right to be?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by elrond, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. Hi all,

    Just received my timetable for next year and a two issues have arisen which I am having trouble dealing with. I know there is a wealth of experience in this forum and would appreciate any advice as to how accept and to move forward positively with the situation.

    Firstly it is normal practice for a class to keep the same teacher from Y10 to Y11. However my Year 10, middle ability group has been retimetabled to a deputy headteacher (ex-head of maths). The reason I was given, which I do not doubt, is that they are important to our threshold measures (C targets) and as we are in SM their results are too important and they are better placed to achieve their Cs with him. I don't doubt this but as 12 out of 15 are already on Cs so far after Edexcel Unit 1, I feel really down about their perception of my teaching skills. This was the first time I had been given a KS4 class that was not one of the bottom two and I had really hoped to further extend my skills by working with this group. I have been given a group of Y10s next year with similar target grades so fear the same thing happening next year too.

    Secondly, I have had a top set of one shape or another each year since starting. They tend to be spread around as a "nice class" so we all have at least one (!) Knowing that there were 6 of us and 5 top sets, 1 has to not get one, and it's me. I've had top 9s last two years, and each year all but 2 hit level 7+, with 6 at L8 last year and 4 this year, including 1 8B. I oversee one KS3 year group and I know that other teachers who have had a top set this year have had far more difficulty with theirs than I with mine, so I feel a bit annoyed at being the one picked to not get a top set.The reason I was given for this situation was that not everyone can have a top set and my new Y10 class was a nice one anyway.

    I understand the reasons behind both situations (drive for results in SM, not enough top sets to go around) and I wouldn't want things to be altered now. I know I have to live with it, even though it really drives me to looking for another job, but I just cannot stop feeling undervalued and a bit "third-class" when it comes to my perceived teaching skills. I have thoughts constantly buzzing around my head that I am not good enough, have not acheived well enough with classes, and I just can't shake these.

    Hopefully someone else has been in a similar situation and can advise on how I can try and shift myself out of this rut......

  2. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    I have taken classes away from teachers before at end of Yr10, but only really due to behaviour management issues, and a breakdown of trust between students/parents and the teacher concerned.
    I don't doubt that you could perform, but I suppose for a school in SM, desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps they are playing what they consider to be their safest hand?
    Regarding top sets - who knows - you have had them, but this year you don't. Someone has to be in that position.
    Sounds like you may have lost faith in your bosses. Time to move on...?
  3. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    What a shame. It is really awkward that this has come at the stage in the year when you are likely to be tiredest and it is absolutely understandable that you are asking questions and are anxious about this.
    I am not sure how useful I can be, because I don't know your situation in detail, but here are my first impressions:
    1] Regarding the top set issue. You have a proven track record of good results with these groups. These kids will all easily get A* to C grades, whatever sort of teaching they receive and because of Special Measures the main focus for the school is C grade and above. The fact that you have been given other groups, where the pupils are significantly less likely to end up getting A* to C grades is a compliment to you and your teaching. If you were a weak member of the dept then you would be more likely to be given top sets and not less so.
    2] The Yr 11 group issue is, if you try to look from a senior management point of view, understandable. I would guess that the Head has been told that the results for this year group are absolutely paramount. Every school in special measures I have ever come across has been a martyr to short-termism - decisions are made to try to boost the current Yr 11 results, even if this is to the detriment of, well, everything else! It is entirely possible that the Head has been given a carpeting by HMI and has declared that the hugely experienced former HOD should teach the crucial group of pupils, without actually knowing anything about who is teaching them at the moment or how well the pupils are doing. You have become collateral damage in this and it is nothing personal.
    I hope this helps - if it doesn't then do start counting down the days to the end of term...
  4. Thanks Nazard and Googolplex,your comments are helping me see it from a more positive angle (no pun intended!)
  5. DM

    DM New commenter

    You shouldn't take it personally. This is not a vote of no confidence in you. It is about trying to make absolutely sure a key GCSE group in a SM school is taught by a highly experienced and senior member of staff.
    A word of caution. Your posts today have revealed enough to identify you to your colleagues. I don't think you have said anything untoward but just be careful.
  6. Thanks DM, appreciated. Will re-read and may amend a few bits.
  7. Two questions from me
    (i) Did you sit with your HoD/CL and state what you wanted as a teacher in terms of a timetable prior to the general date when alterations could be made?
    (ii) Do you think you have advanced the kids as far as they could have been advanced this year?
    On a side note I dont feel top or bottoms sets should be shared out fairly by numbers in a department.
  8. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Why not, Betamale? I go out of my way to do this within certain constraints, such as the fact that there are key classes (top set KS4 & CD borderline KS4) which have to go to experienced hands...
  9. My HOD always asks what groups (age and ability) we would like to teach. I believe that he should give us the groups that he believes that we can make most progress with - I usually get C/D borderline and lower. I think this is a reflection of my teaching style and behaviour management strategies. Also, we do not always have the same member of staff throughout Y10 and Y11. And wihlst I sympathise with the OP, can you imagine the pressure on getting this group of students to where they need to be next summer?
  10. Look at it this way - it takes more skills to teach a lower ability set. top sets get there no matter what. I love teaching top sets but as a HoD and now AST I feel that there is more skill (and more rewards?) in teaching lower sets. That said, you should have a serious conversation with your line manager and start to think whether moving on is now appropriate
  11. I've had a similar timetable this year, and yes the thoughts went through my head about not being trusted with the cleverer kids. But I decided that I would just make the most of it, do the best job I possibly can with the kids I've been given and request a better timetable for next year. I have been given a nicer timetable next year, so i must have done something right this year. I do think it takes more skill and more planning to teach low ability kids effectively, particularly as they often lack motivation as well, so take it as a compliment. That's easier said than done though, and I did have many wobbles this year where I was all set to move schools, or even change careers.
  12. Whole range of reasons. Subject knowledge, ability to mould and inspire the future of bright kids and I dont think some teaching styles suit certain sets. I worked in a school where a member of staff demanded a top set yet had such weak subject knowledge (as a non specialist) that the good kids couldnt be stretched, in fact couldnt even be serviced to the level they were meant to work at.......even lower down the school.
    IMO teachers should be deployed on strength. You wouldnt expect to run a successful football team and let everybody have a go at being a striker just to be fair.
    I believe this runs to Key Stages also.
  13. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    That's fine. But, as HoD, I think there is a duty to try and bring on members of staff. So, if there is a weakness, I will strategically give such teachers certain sets in order to help them overcome this. Provided this doesn't get in the way of key classes, I don't see what the problem is. I'm lucky that my department is currently very settled, and there's plenty of ability - one or two weak areas which I have to watch, but I make sure that, over all the key stages, everyone has a bit of something....
  14. If by 'get there' we mean an A*-C pass then probably yes. If by 'get there' we mean extend students to their maximum then they equally need the most highly skilled teachers.
  15. Hi
    By bringing staff on may not be a case of teaching top sets. It may be making the specialiasts at the KS2/3 transition with numeracy for example.
    We know in some schools there are people in the department you just dont put with the bottom set last period Friday and never would. I think we are a little to shy sometimes to say to some "this top set game isnt for you" (obviously in a more diplomatic way) and really push their strengths.
    Most schools have a mixed range of folk working and IMO strategic planning should be put in place and really pushing peoples strengths first prior to trying to make everybody the same standard. If people want to do it then I think thats great but to be part of a pan, in the current teaching climate, I personally think there are better ways to deploy the team in 'middle of the road mainstream schools'
  16. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    That's probably where we differ slightly. I had two members of staff whose KS4 sets I took away from them at the end of Yr10 a few years back. But, I put them with similar groups the next year - really as a chance to improve, & learn from their mistakes - all discussed openly at R&D meetings. If, in the end, it's a lost cause, then yes, they won't get too many more chances. However, it is important to give them chances to improve.
    Equally, I've had a member of staff who lacks confidence but has really enjoyed a KS3 top set this year - first I've allocated. Can't stop talking about it, and the results are good. If I was playing your game, that person would never have had an opportunity to feel that buzz of a top set which really goes places. Hopefully it should spur this teacher on with other groups.
    That having been said, I've always personally preferred CD borderline groups at KS4 but, as HoD, find myself taking all sorts of groups.
    As I said before, there are certain classes/groups I only give to the people who I can trust will deal with them. Some have yet to earn their stripes when it comes to KS4 set 1. And, if I want a quiet life, there are certain mixes of students who will best be kept apart from certain teachers. However I'd be really surprised if any of my team could level a charge at me of unfair, or unequal allocations. And, frankly, I'm not interested in bringing on specialists in certain fields, so much as developing a department of all rounders. Specialisms will develop, whether I encourage it or not. However, weaknesses will only be overcome if I put in the support and that includes opportunities to improve.
  17. I can appreciate that googolplex and given the circumstances understand your approach.
    I think a lot comes down to desire and motivation too.
    I have worked in schools where "Everybody gets a top set" when in reality the teacher knows the kids are good enough to get passed the 'magic C grade' barrier and does little to better them or inspire their participation in maths beyond GCSE.
    A teacher in my last school had the approach "They could teach themselves" followed by a chuckle....and that they did...the results? 2 years of kids being handed a book at the door whilst teacher really couldnt handle it. The uptake of suitable A level candidates halved as the kids didnt get streteched at GCSE and their skills were not there when the transition come.
    If people are motivated and or doing some CPD (formal or informal) to stretch the top kids then yes, dish out evenly...otherwise?....well thats where we differ [​IMG]


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