The importance of being seen

Next week sees the last of this year’s Summer Series events –‘Learning, teaching and raising aspiration: keys to tackling disadvantage and discrimination.’

Conversations about tackling disadvantage and discrimination often focus on intervention – on the additional support which might make a difference. And of course this kind of support can and does make a difference.

However, we mustn’t forget the transformative effect that great teaching has. Great teachers enable young people to see potential that they hadn’t seen in themselves. They unlock lifelong interests and build self-esteem. They enable young people to gain the skills and knowledge that will open doors for them long after they finish school.

But we need to reflect on the kind of teaching and learning that enables all our pupils to shine. Whether we are considering those sometimes referred to as ‘desk truants’ (there in body but not in mind) or those who are more obviously unwilling to engage, or those who are engaging positively but rarely taking centre stage, we need to reflect on how we can ensure that what we do works for everyone.

One of SSAT’s senior education leads, Corinne Settle, often says that she thinks her interest in formative assessment comes from not feeling seen at school – slipping through without having her abilities recognised. She says that this experience shaped the way she worked as a teacher and her subsequent interests. Those of us who were quietly able may well relate to this.

Formative assessment is a powerful tool not only for ensuring that you are maintaining a clear focus on pupil progress, but also for ensuring that everyone is seen. Key techniques help to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, and everyone knows that their progress has been recognised.

At our final event, we will hear from practitioners, school leaders and students about how learning and teaching can and does change lives. For those who can’t join us next week, we will attempt to capture some of the learning in Sunday Supplement before the end of term.

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