Skip to main content

Underperforming teachers

Here is something from the TES:

"Dealing with the bottom 10 per cent of the worst-performing teachers would improve our schools immeasurably, argues the Sutton Trust. But is it that simple?
Last week, hundreds of thousands of men and women - some young, some old - took a deep breath (some perhaps even let out a quiet sigh) and stepped in front of class to begin another school year. For some, it will be their first time alone with a whiteboard and children; for others, that terrifying classroom debut will be just a distant memory. But whether these teachers have been doing their job for two minutes or 20 years, one in six is performing poorly.
At least that is the claim according to research on teacher quality published today by the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to improve social mobility through education.
The study suggests that some 64,000 teachers working in England’s schools are not performing as well as they should. If the figures are correct, you may be sitting next to one of them in the staffroom as you read this. Three or four low-performers you have encountered during your career may immediately spring to mind. One of them may even be you.
To put the Sutton Trust figure in context, consider the scale of the controversy caused by former chief inspector of schools Chris Woodhead when he claimed there were 15,000 underperforming teachers.
According to the Sutton Trust report, replacing or improving just the lowest 10 per cent of those working at the chalkface - roughly 40,000 - to bring them up to the UK average, would have a truly seismic impact on England’s schools and their pupils. The trust’s research claims that - all other factors remaining the same - tackling the bottom tenth of teachers would see the UK’s position in international league tables rocket in just 10 years from 21st and 22nd, in reading and maths respectively, to as high as third and fifth."


I am left wondering how one defines an under-performing teacher. The data collected by Ofsted on teaching quality is bound to be unreliable because they only see a selection of teachers teaching a selection of lessons in somewhat artificial circumstances. How else could they be counted accurately? Most, if not all, teachers perform well on some days and less well on others. Working teachers are aware that some teachers have a reputation for being particularly good or moreorless disastrous, though I have rarely come across the latter in the three schools I have taught out during my career.

So, whilst it is safe to assume that there are some incompetent or lazy teachers, just as there are incompetent or lazy layers, accountants, engineers and cabinet ministers, it is hard to put a number on them. I do agree that there should be measures that can be taken to help or remove such teachers. The development of performance management over the years has no doubt helped teachers in difficulty and the nature of modern teacher training may expose early incompetence more clearly than in the past.

My admittedly narrow experience is that teachers seem to have got a little better and seem to work a little harder than when I began teaching in 1980. They are more accountable, probably better trained (at least in practical teaching, if not theory) have better schemes of work, do more team-working, use their time a little more fruitfully and use a wider range of methods and resources.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What teachers are saying about The Language Teacher Toolkit

"The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence." (Ernesto Macaro, Oxford University Department of Education)

"I absolutely love this book based on research and full of activities..  The best manual I've read so far. One of our PDs from the Australian Board of Studies recommended your book as an excellent resource.  I look forward to the conference here in Sydney." Michela Pezzi, Teacher, Australia, Facebook)

"Finally, a book for World Language teachers that provides practical ideas and strategies that can actually be used in the classroom, rather than dry rhetoric and theory that does little to inspire creativity in ways that are engaging for both students and teachers alike." (USA teacher, Amazon review)

New GCSE resources on frenchteacher

As well as writing resources for the new A-levels, I have in recent months been posting a good range of materials to support the new GCSEs. First exams are not until 2018, but here is what you can find on the site in addition to the many other resources (grammar exercises, texts, video listening etc).

I shall not produce vocabulary lists since the exam board specifications now offer these, with translations.

Foundation Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Role-plays
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (2)
100 translation sentences into French (with answers)
Reading exam
Reading exam (2)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a good Foundation Tier essay (Word)

Higher Tier 

AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier)
AQA-style GCSE 2016 Photo card conversations (Higher tier) (2)
20 translations into French (with answers)
Reading exam (Higher tier)
How to write a good Higher Tier essay (ppt)
How to write a…

5 great zero preparation lesson ideas

When the pressure is on and there are only so many hours on the week, you need a repertoire of zero preparation go-to activities which promote input and/or practice. Here are five you might well find useful.

1. My weekend

We know that listening is the most important yet often neglected skill for language learning. It's also something some pupils find hard to do. To develop listening skill and provide tailored comprehensible input try this:

You tell the class you are going to recount what you did last weekend and that they have to make notes in English. The amount of detail you go into and the speed you go will depend on your class. Talk for about three minutes. If you spent the whole weekend marking, you can always make stuff up!

You then make some true or false (maybe not mentioned too) statements in the target language about what you said in your account. Class gives hands up (or no hands up) answers. This can then lead into a simple pair work task where pupils make up their own tru…

Three AQA A-level courses compared

I've put together my three reviews of worthy A-level courses which you might be considering for next September. They are all very useful courses, but with significant differences. The traditional Hodder and OUP book-based courses differ in that the former comes in one chunky two year book, whilst OUP's comes in two parts, the first for AS or the first year of an A-level course. The Attitudes16 course by Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri is based on an online platform from which you would download worksheets and share a logon with studenst who would do the interactive parts (Textivate and video work). The two text books are supported by interactive material (Kerboodle) or an e-text book.

Attitudes16





An excellent resource which should be competing for your attention at the moment is the Attitudes16 course which writers Steve Glover and Nathalie Kaddouri have been working on for some time. You can find it here at dolanguages.com, along with his excellent resources for film and li…

The Language Teacher Toolkit review

We were delighted to receive a review of The Language Teacher Toolkit from eminent applied linguist Ernesto Macaro from Oxford University. Macaro is a leader in the field of second language acquisition and applied linguistics. His main research interests are teacher-student interaction and language learning strategies pupils can use to improve their progress.

Here is Professor Macaro's review:
The Language Teacher Toolkit is a really useful book for language teachers to either read all the way through or dip into. What I like about it is that the authors Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti are totally upfront about what they believe to be good practice but back it up with research evidence. So for example the ‘methodological principles’ on page 11 are supported by the research they then refer to later in the book and this approach is very similar to the one that we (Ernesto Macaro, Suzanne Graham, Robert Woore) have adopted in our ‘consortium project’(http://pdcinmfl.com). The point i…