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Maths Book Scrutiny

Discussion in 'Primary' started by nc_marsden, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. nc_marsden

    nc_marsden New commenter

    Hi all
    My head teacher would like me to complete a book scrutiny for maths but a very basic tick sheet with a column for general notes.
    What would you include?

    I have so far ...
    Presentation (one number one box)
    Differentiated tasks
    Clear LO's
    Use of mastery

    Thank you
  2. carriecat10

    carriecat10 Established commenter Community helper

    Progress, progress, progress ...
  3. krisgreg30

    krisgreg30 Occasional commenter

    Challenge - Differentiation can be happening without it actually providing challenge. Are they getting all of their questions right every lesson or making mistakes at points? If they're not making mistakes they're not being challenged.
  4. Studyzonetv

    Studyzonetv Occasional commenter

    Breadth - Is the curriculum being covered fully as per whatever you have in place? Are children being exposed to a range of topics in a range of tasks?
  5. whitestag

    whitestag Senior commenter

    Try to be careful not to jump to conclusions based purely on how books look. Of course, clear LOs and presentation always look nice but they can mask the more important things, like progress and challenge. Always better to have a chat with the teacher as well, it gives far more of an insight into how the kids are really doing. A quick flick through a few books and the teacher giving you some context and you should have a pretty good idea of standards fairly quickly.
    Landofla and krisgreg30 like this.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This is great, some of these heads are hilarious: 'Give it a vertical-thing and some of those little squares.' Were they parachuted in or did they just fall off the back of a lorry?
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I would include...

    Am I learning anything by doing this? X
    Is it causing extra stress and worry to overworked, excellent teachers? (Tick)
    Are my opinions on layout worth more than the class teacher's? X
    Is my headteacher a complete **** for asking me to do such a pointless task? (Tick)

    General comments
    All children appear to be learning maths with the support of their teacher.
    No further action required.
  8. Andrew Jeffrey

    Andrew Jeffrey New commenter

    Carriecat and Whitestag nailed it. Also OFSTED's recent uttering on marking is helpful.
    whitestag likes this.
  9. mrajlong

    mrajlong Senior commenter

    Looking at books tells you about 10% of the story. Total and utter waste of time. The great evidence fallacy: work in books = good learning. How many times have I thought 'the kids have got this, better get some evidence in books before I move on'? Keeps me out of trouble though and that's the best game to play.
  10. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    Look at the progression of the work- do sequences build up over time and skills become applied in a variety of ways?

    Look at the impact of marking- that doesn't mean 5 different coloured pens and triple responses, I simply mean when the teacher has corrected a misconception or told them to check an answer, have they learned from their mistake? If the teacher set them a challenge, have they actually responded or just moved on? If they did respond, does it show mastery or did they make a mistake?
    Anonymity and Landofla like this.
  11. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    Just remember that books are one snapshot - don't make a judgement on teaching just based on them. I remember a new fad came in a few years ago where lots of ticks means that children were not being challenged. I was told that I didn't challenge my more able enough as they had got too many correct on a specific day but my year group colleague did as their child had got some wrong. The fact that my child was completing more complicated work and getting it right was not taken into account - nor the fact I had worked with that child to support them in the challenging work. I considered this to be good teaching that I'd given challenging work and he'd understood it but it fell on deaf ears.

    I'd also be interested how "mastery" is evidenced in books.
    Anonymity and Landofla like this.
  12. krisgreg30

    krisgreg30 Occasional commenter

    It can still mean they aren't being challenged necessarily if they are getting everything right, it's about the context. For example, I know a colleague of mine had supported children with their work so just said to show this somehow as it shows they struggled in some way. Unfortunately, it's the nature of the beast that despite what Ofsted have said, books are still going to be scrutinised by SLT and therefore we will have to as subject leaders because of fear or marking policies that tie us to it.
  13. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    @abacus1982 I feel just like you do about the buzzword 'challenge'. I was told once upon a time that my highers weren't being challenged because they were getting everything correct. Yet I remember being told when I was at sch that if I got things wrong it was because I hadn't listened, nothing to do with challenge. It could be the hardest question in the world and if the child checks and follows guidance, they will get it correct. Failure should not be the measure of challenge.

    By the way, Mastery is evidenced in my books because I leave the bloody Mastery title on the tasks! Expecially for the Mastery with Greater Depth questions.

    @caterpillartobutterfly agree with you too for the most part. Though it is lovely to see how other people teach certain topics and see other styles.

    OP I'd just look to see if the LOs match objectives (especially considering planning needn't be handed in anymore) and to see if learning is 'personalised', i.e. is the marking specific to that child's needs, rather than just a generic comment for all. Just some suggestions :)
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Definitely. I love nosing through other people's books just cos I am nosy. Same reason I like nosing in other people's classrooms.

    Though as a subject leader, so long as children clearly know more at the end of the term/year than they did at the start, I don't really care what the lessons or books look like.
    Anonymity likes this.
  15. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    Yeh tbf the whole book scrutiny thing does feel as though smt doesn't trust the teachers and need to check up on them.
  16. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    I had no issue with my books being looked at when I was in class full time, had no issue with them being looked at when I was in class 3 days last year and have no issue with people looking at my books this year when I do NQT cover, subject leadership cover, PPA.

    I also look at books in my role but it is crucial that firstly there's a point to it and you're not just looking at them because it's the third week of term and book scrutiny is on the monitoring timetable and secondly that they are not used in isolation to form a judgement on a teacher.
    Anonymity likes this.
  17. Benbamboo

    Benbamboo Occasional commenter

    There have to be some sort of checks and balances in the system. There are in every job I can think of - managers need to have some sort of handle on what their employers are capable of.

    Teachers don't like being observed, they don't like book looks, or learning walks, or any of the cringe worthy names that are invented for simply being checked on. There has to be something though, and to me, what better to look at than what the class are learning and producing. It gives a good overview of pitch, challenge, coverage and consistency.

    The problem is when the focus is not the work, but the marking and what is being produced is overlooked because the right coloured pen hasn't been used or some other nonsense. I would rather someone looked at my books 3 times a year to see I was doing my job than to watch me for half an hour three times a year and judge me on that.
  18. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Perhaps you are reinventing the wheel? Surely someone else has done this sort of task for another subject at your school? A common approach with other subjects as far as it is possible, may be something to consider?
  19. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter


    Book scrutinies 3 times a year would be a fine thing.
    Observations 3 times a year would be a fine thing.
    One of those in place of the other would be an even finer thing.

    Looking at the books doesn't give a wide enough picture of the learning. A chat with the teacher would. Well, should. Any SMT willing to give 30 minutes of time to having a talk with me about the children in my class would gain a much deeper insight in to the personalised learning going on than the snapshot taken when doing a book scrutiny or observation.

    Imo observations happen to ensure teachers are aware of the boxes their lessons need to tick for if Ofsted were to drop by.

    Whatever conclusions are drawn following book looks or observations are subjective.
  20. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter


    In what way does this benefit the children?

    In what way does this aid learning?

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