Governor Visit to Year 6
Bill Webber takes part in the Teaching and Learning Review
Apart from attending the various Governor update and policy meetings, which are very informative and interactive with a lot of questioning and probing taking place,it is important to spend time in and around the classroom with teachers and pupils to get a feel of the impact of the plans discussed at the Board of Governor get-togethers. This is achieved primarily (but not exclusively) in two ways, either short informal visits (which I generally, but not always, do by arriving well before scheduled meetings) to cover a specific topic or brief catch-up, or an all-day attendance taking a much greater in-depth look at what is happening in a specific area of the school.
I visited the school on Thursday 26th.January 2017 for one of my all-day attendances. My primary aim was reviewing the progress, challenges and improvement actions allied toY6 (I am the nominated Governor for that year) aimed at giving each pupil the very best chance of reaching their optimum performance within their range of ability.
My initial meeting was with both the Head (Mr Hewett-Dale) and Deputy (Mr Dallinger)Teachers, who had scheduled this particular day to carry out the review of Y6, and as always they were very welcoming and eager to answer any questions I had regarding Y6 in particular and the whole school in general. After seeing, and discussing, the projections for pupil progress in each of the three core disciplines, reading, writing and maths, we moved on to the programme for the day which centred around both Mr. Hewett-Dale and Mr. Dallinger having informal chats (interviews would be too strong a word) with individual pupils by reviewing written course work and expectations, interspersed with classroom visits to observe lessons being given.
The four "chats" I sat in on were well managed whereby the pupil was very soon put at ease and therefore able to fully interact and enter into a good conversation thereby being able to explain the work they have done, what made them proudest and what they felt they needed to improve upon. These children were randomly selected and all had strengths and some areas for greater focus within the range of core subjects and were refreshingly honest in their assessment of their current capability. All were very respectful and took the whole exercise very seriously, thus allowing their true personalities to come through.
I accompanied Mr. Hewett-Dale to an English lesson led by Mr. Grennan, which was attended by a mixed ability group of children who, from my observation, were getting a great deal from the work that was being given to them. This was a very well planned and structured lesson that Mr. Grennan led very well, and ably supported by his TAs. He was very specific in relaying the task to be completed, encouraged interaction with the children by inviting them to answer particular questions (gave as many pupils as possible the opportunity to answer)and gave them ample time to work in pairs or groups by being ever mindful of the clock. I moved around the room sitting in on the work and was very impressed by the commitment of the children whose behaviour was impeccable. All were focussed and interested in doing what was asked of them.
Later I attended, with Mr. Dallinger, a lesson on Spelling(for those children that need additional help) led by Miss Bolger. The style was less front led and very much revolved around group working with teacher and TA attention. This was no"easy-word" session but used a number of different techniques (dependant upon the individual pupil capability) to move each child forward. It was re-assuring to see that even though some of the children had problems with particular words when I asked them to read me some sentences they were perfectly able to do so.
At the end of the day my conclusion was a very positive one. I have been the governor allocated to this group of children since year 4 and to watch them progress through hard work has been good to see. Behaviour that I saw in the classroom, and elsewhere, was beyond reproach, and all seemed to enjoy what they were doing.
I would lastly like to endorse the strategy for treating each child as an individual. The school has made it a key decision to help those children who have challenges in certain areas by giving extra focussed teaching where necessary as I saw during the Spelling lesson. Also,I believe that putting the children under the guidance of "expert" Year 6 teachers will have a huge benefit for all pupils, whatever their starting capability and aptitude.