As part of my ongoing roadshow visiting all SAM Learning secondary school subscribers across the UK to discuss their targeted intervention strategies, the topic that comes up time and time again is the importance of empowering teachers to do what they do best: spend quality time with each student, helping them overcome their specific challenges.
The first step to doing this is of course to have a process of robust data collection that shows progress of each student over time – in micro detail – which then drives action and decisions to accelerate the progress being made by each student. Access to this data real time and via a range of devices is highly important.
But how do you make room in an already bursting school timetable for class teachers to spend quality time with underperforming students? In many school s that’s a puzzle without a solution. However, In this blog I’m going to share the story of an Outstanding Head Teacher who was able to do this successfully.
This proven targeted intervention strategy was shared with me by an inspirational Head Teacher who took his school from Inadequate to Outstanding Ofsted rating. It shares an innovative way to make room during the school day for teachers to spend extra contact-time with key students who are underperforming.
This was achieved through regular mentoring sessions.
Mentoring sessions are an opportunity for a class teacher to spend valuable time with selected pupils from his/her class that are struggling with a particular topic. The pupils are carefully identified in Pupil Progress Meetings. To inform these decisions, detailed assessment using a variety of proven tools, such as SAM Learning, is used to highlight the specific areas in which these students are underperforming.
The Head Teacher that I spoke with introduced a programme of weekly mentoring in his school. This involves every teacher being given a half-day release time, in addition to their PPA time, which was non-class based, but not non-contact time. During these mentoring sessions each teacher focused on those students that had been identified during the Pupil Progress Meeting.
This strategy resulted in the class teacher delivering the intervention to the pupils they work with during class-time.
The sessions are sometimes one-to-one, sometimes in groups of three or four children. The approach is bespoke dependent on the needs of the pupil. The mentoring session is learning- focussed, not behaviour-focussed and gives the teacher the opportunity to directly teach the area which the child is not achieving in.
The areas identified will then be followed up in class by the same teacher and reviewed / measured at the following Pupil Progress Meeting.
Pupils should not be repeatedly in the mentoring sessions for months/years. Their needs should be addressed very quickly, so they are able to access the teacher at the level appropriate to them.
The language used with pupils during these sessions should be direct and honest. Pupils are told what their potential is and where they are underperforming, but are given the support they need to achieve and overcome any barriers.
Effective tracking is of course absolutely crucial in supporting this approach and for the teacher to hold themselves to account for the use of their time. While well-created spread sheets can support this and save time in record-keeping, there are online study platforms that can do this automatically for you with only the absolute minimum time required for manual inputting of data, such as SAM Learning.
Mentoring sessions are a superb targeted intervention strategy and proved to be incredibly effective in this particular secondary school. I’m really impressed by how it was utilised by this Head Teacher and I think SAM Learning would be an extremely powerful tool for underpinning this strategy. In fact, I know it is!
In particular, I think SAM Learning’s ability to pinpoint each student’s specific areas of weakness, prescribe a tailored pathway for overcoming those weakness, and provide real-time in-depth data on their progress makes it the ideal tool to support the introduction of mentoring sessions in any school.