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interesting letter in Herald Sat 03 Dec

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by Flyonthewall75, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Yes, some primary teachers did - and why?
    Because they were pressurised by some HTs, LA QIOs, HMIE and others to show evidence of continuous improvement. Primary schools that ensured most pupils had a solid grasp of Level C and D, for example in Maths, were criticised by HMIE et al for 'coasting' and a lack of attention to 'pace of learning'. You can't win.
    Come to think of it , is it not also the case that some secondary teachers teach to the test/exam so that their pupils get better results for the benefit of league tables. I am also told by some secondary colleagues that quite a high level of 'support' is given in course work to ensure better exam results.
    This perhaps explains why some secondary pupils can obtain a Credit pass at Standard Grade Maths and apply for primary teaching, and then struggle to do the P7 Maths they are expected to teach when qualified.
    The argument that secondary teachers continue to teach to the test because that is what pupils are used to from their primary school experience is debatable. I would suggest they teach to the test/exam to improve their results. It was certainly the case when I was at school.
    Yes, and it also meant that able pupils who had achieved a very genuine Level E were left kicking their heels for a year as they revised P7 whilst secondary staff 'patched up the gaps'. If a pupil was working at Level B or C at Primary 7, the chances are they were not going to achieve a genuine Level E by the end of S2, regardless of any amount of teaching, or experience 'new and wondrous learning'.
    There is an argument that the primary curriculum has become overloaded with additional 'specialist' subjects and that primary schools should concentrate on 'the basics', which usually means English Language and Maths.
    However, just how much time would we expect young children, some very young, to spend doing nothing but English and Maths? Would we expect secondary pupils to do nothing but English and Maths, all day every day. If a broad and balanced curriculum is considered appropriate at secondary, why should the curriculum not also be varied at primary school?
    Yes, experiential learning is important but children also have to be taught. Most four year olds do not automatically learn to tie shoe laces by observing. They need to be shown how to do it and then practise.
    If that is the case, why did they not just scrap the exams and concentrate on the process of learning itself?
  2. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    I've met quite a number of teachers who don't know how to write in sentences. They tend to write as they speak and can't understand why, for example, a conjunction is required.
    Fifty or sixty years ago, many primary pupils would have spent a considerable amount of time analysing the structure of sentences. It probably stood them in good stead if they later studied English, Latin or a modern foreign language.
    However, by the 1970s, introducing primary pupils to parsing, or syntactic analysis of text, would have been considered inappropriate. The new emphasis was to be on expression, content and the free flow of the written word.
    Not surprisingly, there was a deterioration in standards of spelling, grammar and punctuation, with attempts during the 1980s and beyond to place more emphasis on 'Knowledge about Language'. However, the message from HMI inspectors, and others, was always somewhat ambivalent.
    Yes, they wanted children to write, spell and punctuate correctly but they also wanted them to enjoy writing. Presentation was important but they also wanted children to understand the reasons and purposes of writing and the importance of 'audience'.
    In short, educational 'experts' want it all ways and I suspect, with a large number of children, it is difficult to achieve all of the above at the same time. Children, like many adults, tend to write as they speak and it is difficult to get them to focus on 'content' and 'presentation' at the same time. Able, or above average pupils, are usually capable of both at the same time which would roughly equate to about 9 out of a class of 26.
    I can understand the frustration of secondary teachers that more average pupils are not able to consistently use basic punctuation. This is not new. I've been hearing it for at least 40 years, even when standards of spelling and punctuation were, supposedly, much better than today. Part of the problem, I would suggest, is that some secondary teachers believe that all, or most, new S1 pupils 'ought to be able' to write and spell accurately so that they can concentrate on more advanced work.
    It is also not unusual for the presention of children's written work to deteriorate on entry to S1 for organisational reasons. For the first few weeks / months after pupils transfer to secondary, they tend to visit their former P7 class teachers. When showing some of the written work they have been doing, it is not unusual to hear the teacher say: "Is this your best work?"
    In a primary school setting, it is a lot easier for the class teacher to hand the pupil back their work and tell them to go and put in the full stops and capital letters as they have been taught. The children are there with the same teacher all day, every day, and the class teacher knows, fairly accurately, what they are capable of producing. That's a lot more difficult in a secondary setting, especially in the early stages, where teachers are seeing a very large number of pupils for a relatively short period of time.
    It would also be quite interesting if all teachers had access to the written work they were producing when they were a child in P7 or S1. As adults, we generally tend to believe we were better at writing when we were the age of the children we are teaching.
    A few years ago, I discovered my old Higher History notebooks from S5/6. I had saved them for posterity believing the content to be academically interesting and the presentation a fine example of traditional standards. In reality, with experience, I realised they were neither and quickly destroyed them.
    I hope no-one has any of the written work I produced in P7 or S1. [​IMG]
  3. I just feel we have now lost what education really means. In my opinion it is to educate young minds so they can benefit from our (older people's experience) knowledge. We pass on what we have. That is why I became a teacher.

    I feel that is now gone. The education "business" has been hijacked by charlatans and idiots, and now we reaping the results. Behavior is at a loss. They don't read. X-Factor seems to be a compulsory subject. We are teaching, sorry, babysitting, idiots. Really want out tbh.
  4. I would expect the majority to be able to write simple sentences with capital letters and full stops. I don't mind teaching more complicated construction and punctuation (in fact, if it meant that I didn't have to continually correct the general belief that a comma is worthy of praise wherever it has been placed and that placing them is largely down to where you run out of breath when reading, I'd be delighted to) and I don't expect pupils to know how to structure longer pieces of writing without support. I don't think that's unreasonable.
  5. Why are so you so offensive?
  6. Stop the cyber bullying please. Enough eh?
  7. I think that the real problem is a system based on experiences and outcomes which are so vague as to be meaningless. I still do not feel confident in what I am delivering and particularly how I am assessing it. In developing 'imaginative' assessments as we were encouraged to do, I am seeing able pupils seemingly fail to achieve the appropriate level. Perhaps it is my fault, but then no one is able to give me a straight anwer as to what constitutes a National Standard. The literacy outcomes also baffle me. My subject is very closely related to English so I have tried to tie literacy outcomes into assessment, but as very few of my pupils are able to punctuate, speak in public, listen, spell, or paragraph to what would appear to be a level three standard, it simply holds them back. Am I missing something??
  8. "A few years ago, I discovered my old Higher History notebooks from S5/6. I had saved them for posterity believing the content to be academically interesting and the presentation a fine example of traditional standards. In reality, with experience, I realised they were neither and quickly destroyed them."

    Ditto, well similarly......Having found an essay written in S3(1984), which at the time was graded highly, while in the 'top' class, riddled with punctuation/grammatical errors(well, perhaps not riddled as such :)) I realised that spelling/punctuation/grammar skills develop over a lifetime. By Uni, my essays were of a much(predictably, given increased exposure/time) higher standard. Are kids REALLY so much worse today? I wish I still had some of my work from primary school.......
  9. One of our pupils has just gone through the application procedure for Oxford (don't know as yet how she's done). She had to submit a segment of her AH English dissertation as part of her application; then she had to do the ELAT- given unseen poems or prose extracts and required to write a comparative essay in 90 minutes; then given an unseen poem, with 1 hour to prepare, subsequently having to converse for 20 minutes with 2 tutors; then interviewed about her personal statement (about her reading and her dissertation line of argument).

    That is the real world. CfE will mean that no-one from a Scottish state comprehensive will ever enter a top university again, unless some dissident teacher takes them away to study in secret.
  10. It depends...half of my S1 can't hit the literacy outcomes at level 3 because of the aforementioned trouble with punctuation. Many are still struggling to achieve level 2 on some of the ones you mention because they simply don't see the technical aspects as important.
  11. I teach a few kids each year who would be capable of that. I'm hoping that the new qualifications will help hone that kind of skill because they are more focused on Higher style analysis. I think they'll up the lower word limits. I do hold pupils to high standards and we all should. As the poster above mentioned, the outcomes aren't always woolly and the Level 3 and 4 ones are quite clear in stating that pupils must be able to write accurately and for effect.
  12. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    I agree and I would expect the majority of pupils, if not all, to be able to do it by the end of Primary 3.
    If they are still not able to do it by the end of Primary 7, I would be asking serious questions and SMT should be liaising with the school's feeder primaries to discuss the issue.
    Every year we pass on 'Pupil Progress Reports' to the secondary school/s. These contained all the most recent National Test/Assessment papers pupils completed for Reading, Writing and Maths when these were compulsory.
    By the end of P7, most had typically achieved a genuine Level D in Writing. A few had achieved a genuine Level E and some, with learning difficulties had achieved a Level B or C. Occasionally, an individual child with significant learning difficulties, or additional special needs, may have achieved a Level A in writing by the end of P7.
    I am talking about children, of mixed ability, from a wide range of backgrounds. They were, however, taught using a variety of teaching methods. This included core programmes of work, worksheets, workbooks, texbooks and jotters, and pupils were taught as a whole class, in groups or as individuals, as appropriate, backed up with learning support as required. Of course, by today's 'standards', we were probably 'failing' miserably because their wasn't enough 'active learning'.
    Accepting your concerns that the majority of S1 pupils you are teaching are unable to write simple sentences with capital letters and full stops, I would be very interested to find out why this is the case. It certainly isn't acceptable.
    If it is due to a Curriculum for Excellence, a focus on so-called 'active learning' and a rejection of tried and trusted teaching methods, that has to be a concern.
    If it is due to 'inclusion' and the closure of special schools and units, we are clearly failing to meet the needs of all pupils.
    If it is due to a breakdown in pupil behaviour, a lack of motivation to learn or inadequate support from parents, what are the key factors involved because it isn't happening everywhere?
    If it is due to inadequate teaching, either at primary or secondary school, what factors are influencing the teacher's ability to teach. ITE institutions, and schools, have a larger pool of candidates to choose from, than at any other time I can remember, and teachers are working harder than ever.
    I would like to suggest a more basic reason for the actual, or perceived, fall in standards in writing and other areas of the curriculum.
    Many teachers no longer feel they are in control of their teaching. Experienced teachers no longer believe their experience is valued. They are simply expected to implement centrally controlled, educational initiatives that are more about political, economic, and social change than the education of pupils.
    At the same time, less experienced teachers, particularly in the primary sector, are being discouraged from using ready made teaching resources such as programmes of work, textbooks, workbooks etc in favour of random, unmoderated resources downloaded from the internet. Without having at least core programmes of work in a school, it is very difficult to maintain continuity, and progression, as pupils move from year to year.
    Is anyone in the Scottish Government listening?
  13. Depends what "accurately and for effect" comes to mean. If you see what gets a 2 or 3 at S-Grade, you might wonder.
  14. piglet171

    piglet171 New commenter

    "....they simply don't see the technical aspects as important."
    You have hit the nail on the head. A lot of the children I teach just don't give a stuff. They don't realise it will come back to bite them on the bum!
    I read an article in The Scotsman saying a lot of Scottish teenagers are doing themselves out of job interviews by basic spelling and grammar mistakes in their application forms or letters.
  15. We don't do them now - I think they at least gave a bit of a focus to teaching boring skills instead of all-singing, active, cross-curricular projects assessed by some photies of the kids jumping about.
  16. Which is why I sometimes think CfE could be an opportunity for more rigour rather than less...the SQA seem to be encouraging more rigour in technical accuracy at Higher so we can only hope it filters into the Nat 5 marking schemes.
  17. Nail. Head. WHACK!!!
  18. cochrane1964

    cochrane1964 New commenter

  19. Fab - but with a twist - "Really want out" - nah, really want in.
    segbog is totally right to talk about the education "business." I've commented elsewhere that our beloved leaders, Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon will be successful in their 700th aniversary of Bannockburn referendum.
    Dumb as always, the populus will follow, and by default the SNP/CoSLA/EIS hegemony in education will continue. But without:
    a) Trade Unions - see EIS sanctioned cut in supply teachers' wages of 43%. Who's next? Yep - you.
    A post-industrial, post-oil, post-coal non-collective society doesn't need the citizens described in the CfE. And if the citizens aren't needed nor are the teachers.
    b) Public Funding - gosh! Education is dear! Help!
    And indeed there will be help. Help from every angle, every direction, and every perversion under the sun. There will be World wide corporations, national conglomerates, anti-abortionists, pro intelligent designers, fundamentalist Christians Jews Muslims and Atheists popping the odd quid in - there will be save the whales, save the planet, support your local supermarket, shop, garage, newsagent and who knows what.
    And guess what? This will all be a "good thing" in the post referendum Scotland, unless you, Yes - YOU - stand up for the intellectual independence and freedom to teach as you, as a qualified professional see fit.
    You are a teacher. Your contracts will be attacked, just like your supply colleagues' were. Where will you let it stop?
    I want in. I want to stop this torpor. You are professionals. You are organised. Do you care enough to involve yourselves in the future of the "citizens" you put out?
    If so, what have you done to prepare them for a lifetime of unemployment?
    This is what will happen to at least one and half million of your little darlings. I mean, really. You think the current eurocrisis is bad? Hold your breath and listen.
    We make very little that requires intelligent workers, skilled artisans or top level legal brains. These posts have already been filled.
    The private sector has ignored CfE. It has prefered to get work for its school leavers. They fill the few posts worth filling. They also fill all the University places worth the bother.
    So - what are you producing?
    Fodder doesn't need teaching.
    So. What are you going to do when you grow up?
  20. When I started teaching 8 years ago my S1 classes would contain on average only 2 pupils at level D in English. I have recently heard that our first year for next year contains approx 40 pupils who cannot construct a basic sentence. One of my lower school pupils has only just learned how to write his name.

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