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Raising the attainment of under-achieving, high-ability boys

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by streetno9, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    Hello there. I've posted a version of this thread on the English thread, but I'd value the thoughts and contributions of educators from across departments.
    I'd like to propose a theory for discussion. Whilst there are numerous teaching strategies and educational "hooks" to try out which feel very much like they address the curricular side of the argument, I am wondering whether or not the focus should be more pastoral?
    Should we be promoting the idea that teachers need to put more energy into establishing positive relationships with these male under-achievers - think phone calls home, brief after-lesson conversations, noticing when they are having good/bad days, using detentions as a time to build better relationships - rather than trying to teach them as a "bloc" of students?
    What do we think people?
  2. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Genuine question.

    If they are not achieving much, what evidence tells you that they really have a great deal of ability?
    gainly likes this.
  3. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Local football club? some run educational programmes. Our local club runs maths lesson. Lots of the boys engage well, and so do some girls.
  4. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    A fair point. The KS2 data is telling us that they are high-ability - essentially, these are the students who "should" be getting 7s and 8s, but get 5s and 6s. Also, from my own experience with these students, they can orally show a high-quality level of understanding, but it doesn't work when it comes to writing it down.
    cmn374 likes this.
  5. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    I'm intrigued. Could you tell me a little more about what that looks like?
  6. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    wel, I won't say which club, becasue its too identifying, but it s quite a well known one. Not top, top flight. They offer a series of maths sessions to underacheivers. Firstly, they are don in the stadium itself, which helps, and the boys ( its mostly boys, not exclusively, who want to do it) get to play on the pitch as part of the afternoon.
    its age around 14, the maths is largely practical, or vocational. So one day they came back with maths done on little coloured origami models of football shirts, lots of calculations of area and vectors and angles related to the folding of the shirt. Another time they hd done something on flow of crowds and volume.

    Of course, in the end, maths is maths is maths, and there is no getting away from the actual maths in a maths lesson, but it was fun and novelty, and was done in Pe kits at a football stadium, and incorporated football training, and certainly was constructive overall
  7. colacao17

    colacao17 Occasional commenter

    How reliable is the KS2 data? Could it have been inflated/exaggerated in some way and for some purpose.
  8. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    Thanks for that. I shall have a look into organising something similar where we are. Shall let you know if there's anything that comes of it.
    Corvuscorax likes this.
  9. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    You may well be right. Sadly, these KS4 target grades won't be changed either. For some of these kids that'll be tough to take, but for a lot the target grade is a fair reflection of what they "should" get off the back of the potential they've demonstrated. My issue is getting them to produce the end product in pressure situations.
  10. cmn374

    cmn374 New commenter

    I teach Biology to a a year 10 class - set 4, 26 students; which contains at least 6-8 boys who are definitely in that class due to behaviour rather than ability. This is clear when at least 2 of the group are absent/ ill/in isolation; the others are then more settled & can work well. Their potential ability is clear from the questions that they ask & when closely questioned, the answers that they are able to give. They hate writing anything down especially if it is more than 1 sentence! None of them will achieve the target grades determined by their KS2 data due to frequent absences, peer pressure & testosterone.
    This is a particular shame as all of them have personality & a certain amount of charm & despite being hard work (!) the class is actually one of my favourites.
    streetno9 likes this.
  11. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    As a mother of only boys, lazy high ability, I have one or two suggestions. They need to get into good habits from day one. Mine were allowed to coast for years, and then when things got more important they were in the habit of not working hard. From day one I would insist that they hand in homework at the right time. I'd increase it if it were not done well enough or not done at all. I'd make them do it at school, anything as long as they knew they had to do it. With boys, habit is everything. One of my boys would even take off a clean top and put it in the wash without thinking, if he'd, say, changed his mind about what to wear. Fine by me. The dirty clothes always went in the wash because it was a well ingrained habit. Our house is tall so we had a bell to ring at tea time. I could ring that bell at any time of day and boys would appear and lay the table without even thinking whether it might actually be a meal time!

    They don't want to be messed around. They want clear instructions and clear expectations. Very clear. They don't always interpret suggestions well and can be frustrated that instructions aren't explicit. They like structure.

    They need a bit of room and opportunity to grow up. Mine all came good, but maybe later then you might have thought. By sixth form all except one were like different people, working hard, very hard. The youngest has never really got it but he's at university and hanging in there. He's very lazy, but being allowed to get away with it at a younger age has just made it harder. And parents may be really trying at home, but it's hard to insist on homework being done when school then doesn't bother if it isn't.

    I don't think boys, or anyone probably, like their abilities being underestimated. Mine were bored for so many years at school that by the time the work caught up with them they'd lost interest, and it took a while for it to return. But it did.
    streetno9 and alendra like this.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Codified thread
  13. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    This is useful. It links in with an unfortunate line of thinking this thread has taken me down: it is rather too late to try and inspire these boys in KS4 if the things we need them to do well are not part of their established day-to-day practice.

    It's a difficult needle to thread in KS4: how to make the student see some worth in the effort that they have given, yet simultaneously realise that it wasn't good enough, and to do so in a manner that means that these proud young minds are motivated to try again and, hopefully, embed the concept or idea you are trying to get across to them. I'm thinking that, with these students, it has more to do with the relationship that the student has with the teacher.

    Your words are appreciated. Thank you.
  14. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    My sympathies. Keep on plugging away at it. There will be people in that room who will take a lot from your efforts and will, because of you, try a little bit harder. Hang in there.
  15. streetno9

    streetno9 New commenter

    Sorry, cannot see this. Reads as "codified thread".
  16. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    You sound like a very caring teacher. They're lucky to have you.
    streetno9 likes this.
  17. sambradshaw1998

    sambradshaw1998 New commenter

    When it comes to raising attainment of under-achieving boys in secondary schools it is important to connect with them and understand what is happening in their lives. I think in secondary schools boys are put under a great deal of pressure to act in a particular way and often being academic and hard working does not fit into this mould. I feel like, as teachers, we should try to connect with these pupils to find out how we can help them and in turn hope that translates into academic attainment.
    streetno9 likes this.

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