A new report considers why some children who did well at key stage 1 do not maintain the same rate of progress at key stage 2

Many children who do well at KS1 are unable to maintain their progress during KS2 and in terms of the levels of attainment they achieve they slow down or even stall completely. Keeping Up – Pupils Who Fall Behind in Key Stage 2 presents the issues arising from a small-scale investigation focusing on pupils who are at risk of not converting a Level 2 in English and maths at KS1 into a Level 4 at the end of KS2.

Although it does not regard these pupils as having special educational needs, the report’s focus on individual learning styles should help in developing the inclusive curriculum. In particular this report is concerned with two groups of pupils.

Invisible children
These are pupils who keep a low profile. They are quiet and undemanding, don’t push for help and will sit for long periods waiting patiently for attention.

  • support in understanding personalised targets, set by the teacher
  • opportunities to work in partnership with other pupils
  • targeted small group intervention where appropriate.
  • a range of teaching strategies/plans that are tailored to all pupils in the classroom
  • opportunities to develop a thorough understanding of school’s assessment for learning policy
  • management skills to effectively deploy teaching assistants.

Senior leadership teams should:

  • provide an effective tracking and targeting system for all pupils – to support the identification and early intervention of ‘the invisible pupil’
  • implement a whole-school approach to assessment for learning
  • deploy resources effectively and efficiently to provide appropriate targeted support.

Pupils who work in the comfort zone
These are pupils who are conservative in their learning style, eager to get things right but anxious about taking risks. They are uncomfortable with open-ended, investigative or exploratory work – they prefer routine right/wrong tasks.

  • support and encouragement to take risks
  • experience of working in a range of different groups
  • opportunities to take a variety of different roles in group work, taking responsibilities in relation to the particular role they have
  • access to talk partners, carefully matched to each pupil’s needs
  • opportunities to develop assertive skills through activities such as drama
  • access to visual keys and other support.

Teachers should offer:

  • support and encouragement to take risks
  • strategies and access to support the clear identification of pupils in the target group
  • support to develop more open-ended approaches
  • improved confidence/subject expertise in literacy and mathematics
  • encouragement to develop displays of work that ‘grow’ and are developed in an ongoing way throughout the year.

Senior leadership teams should:

  • establish a school ethos that supports risk taking and emphasises pupils’ learning – challenge commonly held views such as a quiet classroom is a productive one
  • identify clearly the groups of pupils that need targeted support (perhaps use the distinction between underperforming pupils and underachieving pupils)
  • track progress carefully, possibly termly.

Tracking pupil progress
The progress of these pupils needs to be tracked on a regular basis and obstacles to progress identified and addressed.

  • challenging targets set and reviewed termly so they know what they need to do to get them next term
  • understanding of targets so that they can use and remember them
  • feedback marking with ‘next steps for improvement’ on significant pieces of work, so they can see how they can do better
  • opportunities for reflection time in lessons to review their progress in relation to their targets and advice given in formative marking.
  • support to ensure that there is a close alignment between their layered targets and the ‘next steps’ advice given to pupils
  • time to provide focused feedback to pupils, particularly on significant pieces of work
  • freedom to operate flexible groupings within the classroom so that pupils get the opportunity to work towards achieving their targets with the help of other pupils
  • support in planning for speaking and listening activities that allow pupils to extend their S&L skills and to develop the language of learning
  • strategies shared with teaching assistants that inform the development of next steps for pupils and what they need to be taught to achieve their targets
  • support in implementing the primary national strategy’s renewed framework to help them plan for next steps and pupils’ targets.

Senior leadership teams should:

  • model effective practice themselves in the classroom, as often as possible
  • ensure that layered targets are given a high profile within the school environment through displays, etc so that they have a high status and are used and remembered
  • improve the conditions for learning for pupils by encouraging teachers to develop the classroom environment to support independent learning
  • share pupils’ targets with parents at parents’ evenings and in reports.

The report discusses how to identify ‘slow-moving’ pupils in English and mathematics in KS2. It also offers advice on tackling obstacles, which limit progress in extended writing, a range of strategies for solving mathematics problems and coaching via guided groups.

To download or order this report go to www.teachernet.gov.uk/publications

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