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On track with learning (OTWL)

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by xmal, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. xmal

    xmal Established commenter

    Has any authority successfully implemented OTWL? Our HT is adamant that it is simple and quick despite the experiences of staff. It now looks like we are to complete extensive planning and tracking using it but staff have their doubts. Any experience otwl?
  2. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    It's not called OTWL where I work, xmal, but what we do will be the same thing for sure.

    Our pupils complete a Learning Log after each unit. Our Logs are very long and much of the information they ask for is mildly irrelevant and/or duplicated. An additional three pages were added to them this very afternoon.

    Pupils review their performance in the unit they've just completed. A long series of questions and the pupils quickly get bored filling them in. I use the carrot of trying to get the Logs completed in one period so we don't have to revisit them. Teachers are then expected to go through each and every pupil's Log and make their judgements too.

    The pupils then select which Traffic Light they are. The SLT has warned us that practically no pupil will have a Green Traffic Light unless truly exceptional, backed up by a Reginald Perrin amount of so-called evidence. Most pupils are Yellow so it's a very wide scope, Yellow being deemed "On Track". We are not allowed to call Yellow "Amber" because amber means stop, don't you know - and, yes, I am being entirely serious. Red is, of course, not on track. The Traffic Light chosen is supposed to be agreed between pupil and teacher. Pupils are expected to remember their Traffic Light status.

    Pupils also set their targets for the next unit in the Log. They can either select from a range of numbered suggested targets or make up their own.

    Then the teacher sits down with each and every Log for that class. The test mark will be input to the Tracking Spreadsheet. Then the Traffic Light is input (so this is duplicate reporting for the union-minded). Then the Target(s) are input (again, duplicate reporting).

    So, let's say one period of teaching time to "do" the Logs. For each pupil you then get their Portfolio out, find the Learning Log, and then find the page with the marks and targets: then that data is duplicated on to the spreadshite. Finally, you return the Log to the Portfolio and move on to the next pupil. At a reasonable three minutes per pupil for, say, a 20-pupil class that's a good hour per unit of work just duplicating the data - minimum. Of course, absentees will need to be brought up to date, probably on your time.

    In practice our "management" are only interested in the Traffic Lights and the targets being on the spreadshite. All hell breaks loose if this ain't the case. Oh, forgot - homework marks are also recorded on the all-encompassing spreadshite.

    In summary, it's a waste of time for an awful lot of pupils. For teachers, ditto. I want to teach my pupils my subject, I don't want to physically and emotionally look after them, that's not, or shouldn't be, my job.

    Hope this helps!
  3. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter


    just lifted this straight from the Tackling Bureaucracy publication:


    All involved in delivering teaching and learning should:

    ensure that their planning, monitoring and reporting systems are fit-for-purpose. They should be used in a way that maximises the time spent on teaching and learning, supports professional dialogue and avoids unnecessary workload

    Each Local Authority and Learning Community should:

    challenge unnecessary bureaucracy in education services and schools.

    regularly review the efficacy of ICT systems for planning and reporting, ensuring that they are fit-for-purpose and do not unnecessarily take time away from teaching

    Your system sounds like a complete and utter waste of time, with no benefit to education and very bureaucratic. If I were you, I'd ask my union rep to call a meeting, propose that as a union branch you are not doing this, have a vote on it and then tell your SMT where to shove it when it is carried. It's very simple - the bureaucracy document has been signed by councils, unions, HMI and the government. If it's bureaucratic then you don't do it.

    If teachers don't stand up to this sort of ****, then be prepared to be continually sha.t on from great heights.
  4. catmother

    catmother Star commenter


    I can see my LA/school starting going down this road.
  5. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Folks, thanks for the comments. It is indeed a ludicrous system.

    I fear it is coming to a LA/school near you soon too.

    We've had these discussions as a dept and at union meetings but we are a feckless bunch who enjoy moaning and are unwilling to do anything about it.

    My union rep circulated the Tackling Bureaucracy document (think it was you Effin who passed it on to me?) a few months ago but I doubt very many people read it.

    The system will be so well-embedded by now that the SLT will claim that we've been doing it for nearly a year so what's the problem now? Don't get me wrong, there's been plenty of complaints - all ignored.

    As a profession, we have no courage.
  6. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    Who is going to voice any concerns? Not the NQTs or near enough NQTs who are treated like golden children by SMTs and whose aim is to get promoted within 5 years, if not sooner. Not the 45+ who are treated either like old dinosaurs or are pretty much invisible.
  7. therightchoice?

    therightchoice? New commenter

    Oh wow...our authority was the birthplace of OTWL and was the baby of our now retired head of Education.

    Funnily enough once he retired it's been flung on the scrapheap by much of the authority! Didn't think anyone still used it! I feel your pain!
  8. Liviboy

    Liviboy Occasional commenter

    I think the one positive from Tackling Bureaucracy was the line about IT systems being fit for purpose/suitable. OTWL seems to have taken a bit of a back seat in my authority (a change of pace from 2 years ago when we were being told it was the ONLY system to be used for planning).
  9. Marco82

    Marco82 Established commenter

    Folks I'm glad I don't have to do any of that, it's looks enough to make you want to cry. Just wanted to say, this phrase "fit for purpose" is itself a waste of time. If I remember rightly, it was beloved of that warmonger, John Reid, was used by him and his acolytes to justify each and every Blairite attack on civil liberties. To me it is a buzz word, like "going forward" , "blue skies thinking" , "left field" etc and is loved by bone-headed bureaucrats because it has no precise meaning but makes it sound as though they have reflected long and hard about something and, applying their profound wisdom, are now pronouncing unanswerable truth. The phrase itself is "not fit for purpose".
  10. cassie511

    cassie511 New commenter

    The scrapheap is the best place for it. I too feel the pain of those forced to use it. I was ready to resign if I had been forced to continue with it but fortunately common sense prevailed.
  11. Potatoes005

    Potatoes005 Occasional commenter

    From an old synic...

    OTWL = Bin it

    Although the bin is overflowing and a skip has been ordered.
  12. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Our dept S1 data is stored on a tracking spreadsheet, or "spreadshite" as I call it. An unknown colleague decided to put the data in alphabetical order. Unfortunately they did not select all the columns and now the data does not match the pupils. We will be asked to resubmit the data but that's when it becomes a union issue.
    A lot of swearing has been going on in my department recently.
  13. inthered

    inthered Occasional commenter

    Sorry, Jimmy, but that raised a smile from me - I hope you have complete success in sinking the absurd initiative. It perfectly underscores the ludicrousness of the thing.
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  14. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    No need to apologise, reddy. If you're smiling half as much as most of my colleagues then you'll have really sore sides.
    Unfortunately it won't sink the initiative because it's the baby of the DHT in charge of it.
    Also, and this should make you smile as well, I predict that a backup won't be retrieved - maybe backups aren't even done!
    PS I could mention something that would make this even more hilarious, but that would identify my school, so sorry!
  15. inthered

    inthered Occasional commenter

    Still smiling. :)

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