There was a very interesting discussion and debate on the teaching and learning culture in schools and how it impacts on staff morale and wellbeing on @ukedchat tonight.
Discussion came up about how schools expect so much of teachers, but put the pressure on by focusing on attainment and the things that Ofsted require rather than focusing on the things that the children in each school context actually need. It was clear that those partaking in the discussion were very much in favour of the latter and challenging the ‘status quo’ that Ofsted bring. Yet, why is it that the feeling from so many is that schools are sapping dry our dynamic teachers and forcing them to abide by ‘standards’ set by external bodies? When will schools learn?
Continuing my reading tonight in, “The Learning Powered School” I came across the section called, “Learning versus performance cultures” (Claxton,Chambers, Powell, Lucas, p. 37, 2011). This was perfectly timed. They ascertain that, “Several recent research papers have found, paradoxically, that pupils do better on their tests when they and their teachers focus on learning rather than on performance and achievement” (Claxton, Chambers,Powell, Lucas, p. 37, 2011). What a massive claim.
So, the research suggests that if schools focus on learning, achievement and attainment will end up being higher. What are we doing then?
Why are schools still allowing Ofsted to control every movement and every policy, whereby adversely affecting the outcomes for all? Surely, if we focus on the learning and ensuring our pupils remain at the heart of our decisions, everything else will fall into place. Clearly, there are things that Ofsted require to be in place which schools should adhere to – the sensible things. However, it should not permeate the culture of schools and narrow their focus so much that it impacts on the wellbeing of all involved.
Leaders need to be braver in their stance. They need to be sure that any policy and practice being implemented is what is right for their children – they then need to be ready to fight for that stance. I’ll say it again, if children are truly at the heart of policy and practice, you can’t go far wrong.
Claxton, et al, continue to cite other research that proves where teaching children to ‘learn’ will have more impact on achievement then always focusing only on the ‘end result’ (SATS scores may be the case).
The moral then? “Building students’ confidence in their own capacity to learn turns out (not surprisingly) to boost their examination performance. On the other hand, several studies have found that narrow pressure for results – ‘achievement pressure’ in the jargon of the trade-is not an effective way of raising results” (Claxton, Chambers, Powell, Lucas, p. 37, 2011). This research took place before 2011 – why are schools still overwhelmingly focused on attainment at the ‘end’? What will it take for everyone to listen and learn?
Schools need to begin looking at the wider and ‘long-term’ picture…creating children ready to conquer the world that awaits them…giving them the skills to be confident learners when they leave our gates…to become life-long learners, resilient, brave and ready to learn from their mistakes.