At Belvoir High School staff help pupils set their own SMART targets while house days are used to help pupils develop strengths
By deputy head Paul Ainsworth
Belvoir High School is located in rural Leicestershire. There are 400 pupils on roll from Year 6 to Year 9. The G&T register consists of approximately 40 pupils who are selected by a combination of teacher referral, MidYIS scores and KS2 results. The G&T coordinator is also the head of inclusion.
Two areas of personalisation that Belvoir High School has been tackling in parallel are pupil target setting and pupils choosing their own activities and style of learning. The school has been working with pupils to set meaningful targets for at least five years and last year reinvigorated the system to include house days, presenting pupils with an opportunity to choose tasks to develop their strengths or address their weakness.
Each pupil participates in the monitoring system twice a year. One of these occasions is linked to a house day or an enrichment activity. Each subject that the pupil studies has a monitoring form with generic and subject-specific assessment criteria. Pupils complete self-assessment using a five-point scale and their teacher grades each criteria. The generic assessments are: behaviour, effort, homework and progress. The teacher also records a target level, comments on their performance relating to this target and has the option of giving feedback on what the pupil can do to achieve it.
The generic assessments are analysed by the data manager providing feedback for each pupil on their place within their tutor group and year group and a graphical representation of how their performance has changed over their time within the school.
This is the type of system that many schools use; the difference at Belvoir is possibly how the pupils use this information to set their own targets. The pupils are taught how to set SMART targets (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time dependent). Each pupil has a 15-minute interview with their tutor, head of year or a member of the SLT to review progress, go through targets or help them write targets.
The G&T coordinator follows up by working with the G&T pupils to consider setting more detailed targets to form individual education plans (IEPs). The G&T pupils complete a multiple intelligence questionnaire. In the light of this their monitoring performance is reviewed with the G&T coordinator and specific targets are set on how they can overcome weaknesses in some areas. Last year the G&T coordinator discovered that virtually all the boys on the G&T register either had enjoyed playing with technical Lego or still used these construction kits. The interview element of the monitoring system is a time-consuming process with a high staffing load and this is where the link with house days and enrichment activities has been developed.
In addition to the standard house point competition we run four house days over the course the year. A wider range of activities is offered and, with careful planning, additional staff are freed up for pupil target setting.
For example, last November, Year 9 were target setting, Year 8 had an Africa day based on the performing arts (music, art, dance and drama), and Year 7 and 8 had a house afternoon. Pupils choose an activity according to their strengths and then compete in teams against the other houses. Activities included: public speaking, a science workshop on model aeroplanes, computer strategy games, a selection of quizzes, football and netball. All the pupils enjoy the opportunity to work on an activity they had chosen; in addition they developed teamwork and negotiation skills to ensure each activity had a viable team. Some of these activities become masterclasses but pupils choose which one to attend according to their strengths and aptitudes. The G&T pupils’ self-esteem can be boosted as their peers recognise their talents and encourage them to participate in certain activities to increase their house’s chance of winning.
The school is looking to review the system this summer to consider how it can be developed further by drawing on the best assessment for learning practice (see box below).
Ideas under development
- The English department is developing reading and writing level foci, which allows pupils’ work to be carefully analysed with specific feedback so pupils can improve their level. Feedback is communicated through the monitoring process as well as through traditional marking. G&T boys stereotypically enjoy this precision of feedback as it becomes the type of short-term target that is acknowledged to motivate boys. One development is for other subject areas to begin to present this kind of detail in their monitoring targets.
- A working party of subject heads may be formed to develop a bank of SMART targets that pupils can consult to see which is most likely to improve their weaker areas. This would develop consistency across tutor groups, year groups and give subject heads a greater role in a system, which is managed by pastoral leaders.
- Currently, Year 6 monitoring forms do not have NC levels. The school has had a policy that a wide secondary curriculum is more important than cramming for KS2 SATs. How do we develop the use of levels in Year 6 while keeping the priority on a wide curriculum rather than KS2 SATs?
- The house days are popular and provide an ideal enrichment opportunity. The school may consider ensuing at least one of the activities is an identifiable masterclass and also communicate the outcomes of the activities in terms of the NC so the pupils recognise they have a concrete link to their studies.