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NQT dealing with school policy

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Northernnqt, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. Northernnqt

    Northernnqt New commenter

    I'm sure this sort of thing is easy to answer for more experienced colleagues.
    I am due to start in September. I am becoming increasingly aware that school is more of an exam factory than I was led to believe at interview. It is apparently a requirement for students to complete silent exam practice as part of every lesson. Across all key stages.
    After spending a year training to be creative and adventurous in my teaching this doesn't really sit right with me. I don't like the idea of been told how to teach.
    I guess my question is how much can a school tell me how to teach?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    How much will they know whether you're doing silent exam practice every lesson? I know my SLT wouldn't have a clue, as they're rarely in (or even near) my classroom, and this was the case when I was an NQT too.

    You could also do an exam-style question after each main objective, but explain that sometimes an objective will stretch over 2-3 lessons, and therefore the silent exam practice will take place in the 3rd lesson.

    I wish I had time to fit silent exam practice into more of my lessons, to be fair. With only 2 hours per week curriculum time, I struggle to fit that sort of thing in.

    I think the key thing is to make sure it's as part of a varied diet. So you do all of the other stuff, and then do a 5-10 minute mini-exam-style task towards the end of the lesson.

    For me, with Y8 bottom set Spanish, it would amount to "Can you write me a sentence answering this question, without talking to anyone or using a dictionary". With older and more able pupils it might be a full paragraph.

    As an NQT, I'd probably play the game (to an extent). You need them to pass you, and the year is tough enough without getting yourself into a conflict. But playing the game does not mean you totally sacrifice how you want to teach. It means you find a way to fit in a bit of what they want, alongside what you want to do.
    sabrinakat and sadscientist like this.
  3. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I would be tweeting from an anonymous account to Sean Hartford who is keen to drive out such black hat practice. There is a larger moral integrity issue at play here.
  4. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    Two words. Performance Management.
  5. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

  6. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    The short answer is 'as much as they like', and it would be very risky for an NQT to defy them. That being said, you might be able to find creative ways of doing it. I sympathise - I also hate beng told what to do, but I think your priority should be to pass your NQT year. I suggest that you bite your tongue, try to stick it out for a year, and keep an eye out for jobs for the next year.
  7. CuriousTurtle

    CuriousTurtle Occasional commenter

    My current school have a powerpoint template that we have to use, and 3 different 10 minute long elements that we have to include in every lesson. For KS4 we have a set lesson template, and must include exam questions and mark schemes in every lesson. We have a set hw for each year group every week across the department as well. To answer your question, they can dictate a lot. I don't particularly like it, it is part of the reason I'm leaving, but some elements (particularly the homework) can be helpful, if not particularly differentiatable (clearly not a word, but I can't work out what it actually should be!)
  8. atwoodfan

    atwoodfan New commenter

    None of us likes being told what to do!
    That said, I think particularly for low and middle ability students, the chance to regularly practise a skill and develop good habits at exam style questions can make a big difference to them.
    I agree with everyone else, about trying to pass your NQT year without conflict, but doing what you can within the system to make your lessons as creative and varied as you can. (Also, doing some silent work most lessons is also a good thing for independence and skill development - if the word "exam practise" was removed and it was "silent written work" for some of each lesson, would you object so strongly?)
    Wishing you every success for your NQT year!
    grumpydogwoman, sadscientist and Pomz like this.
  9. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    You have woken up to the reality of education perhaps slightly earlier than the average entrant into the profession.

    Don't blame the school, this is what high stakes exams, league tables and the obsession with data have led us.

    Perhaps things will change in the future where the holistic development of a child is the priority rather than a set of numbers at the end of Year 11/13. That change is perhaps starting but will take a long while to filter through.

    As things are, the game of exam technique needs to be played. You would be best to accept it at your stage and be 'creative' elsewhere. If you feel strongly enough about it, you could always set up your own school!
  10. mrmatt73

    mrmatt73 Occasional commenter

    As Pink Floyd once sang "Welcome to the machine"....
    Piranha and grumpydogwoman like this.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Silent working.

    "I have 2 questions for you. Brainstorm them in silence for 5 minutes. Make sure you tackle both fairly equally so it's up to you to ration your time. I'll put a stopclock on the whiteboard. Jot down your thoughts using bullet points. Don't write in sentences."

    Make it a challenge. It's up to you. Can you motivate them? Can you make it a game? Can you make it fun?
    theworm123 likes this.
  12. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    [QUOTE="Northernnqt, post: 12142999, member: 21915907" It is apparently a requirement for students to complete silent exam practice as part of every lesson. Across all key stages.

    I suspect that, in reality, the result will be that almost all teachers will do it fairly often. Which is not a bad idea. As long as everything else is going well, and you have some good recent examples in their books, I wouldn't worry too much if it isn't fitting in with where you are in teaching the topic.

    [QUOTE="Northernnqt, post: 12142999, member: 21915907"
    After spending a year training to be creative and adventurous in my teaching this doesn't really sit right with me. I don't like the idea of been told how to teach.

    I sincerely hope that you haven't been encouraged to think that "creative and adventurous" lessons are essential to managing behaviour? A dangerous fallacy that is apparently still being spread at some training institutions? In effect, being told how to teach.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  13. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    Sorry, multiple editing going on here as half my post isn't appearing for some reason!

    Exactly, it's all about balance. If creative and adventurous gets your class bouncing off the ceiling, it ain't going to be an effective lesson. it takes a while to feel your way with it, sometimes a bit of silent bookwork or exam practice is good to settle a class - and a surprising number of pupils actually enjoy it, in my experience. Best wishes for your NQT year.
  14. Sundaytrekker

    Sundaytrekker Star commenter

    The headteacher directs teaching and learning in their school. It's been decades since teachers had a totally free hand over how they teach. All schools will have initiatives that they require teachers to put in place. That said, there is still scope for you to decide how to do that in a way that is best in your class. Usually, a range of teaching styles can be used in the course of a week. Good luck.
  15. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    We have to do an quick exam for every class once a week with the work/results being evident in their books so that BB can check.

    Completely disrupts lessons, esp as I teach Science and there is little enough time to do a bit of theory, an experiment and a plenary in an hour.

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