Just what is a ‘Good Level of Development’   Leave a comment

So today 11th October 2018, we have an announcement from Ofsted about the new inspection framework – and on the face of it I am personally pleased there is to be less focus on data and teaching to the test in our schools.

However, I am not yet convinced about Ofsted’s intentions because I attended the West Midlands Ofsted Big Conversation on 5th October 2018 (so less than a week ago) and I listened to presentations about what Ofsted considers to be ‘important data’. Data about ‘Good Level of Development’ (GLD) and this was broken down into various compassion tables. It was stressed that good work was being done and more children were reaching this GLD, but more needed doing to in Ofsted’s words ‘Ensure every child reach a GLD’. Of course they were referring to early years but this new framework , like the Common Inspection Framework currently in use, is across all education settings – so from early years, through schools and onto further education. Therefore all comments made by Ofsted about the new framework will apply to all.

Link to blog about West Midlands OBC  https://pennysplacechildminding.com/2018/10/06/feedback-from-west-midlands-ofsted-big-conversation-on-5th-october-2018/

So really I am not convinced about their intentions because it seems to me that in the future data is still going to be important to Ofsted and the DfE. My natural conclusion is – if GLD is still important, and data still to be collected, then some ‘teaching to the test’ will happen.

I am not yet sure of the knock on aspects of teachers performance and pay, if their class, their school does not get a higher enough % of children to a GLD. And of course what about inspections judgements – surely their will still be some sort of a link – otherwise why gather the data?  Why record it? Why create comparison tables?

I hope I am wrong, I hope it is just my misunderstanding or lack of information – but at this current moment in time, I am not convinced.

Readers may be wondering if I don’t care about the education of our children, if I don’t want all children to reach their full potential.

It is because I do care, because I do want children to reach their full potential that I am bothering to express my opinion in this blog.

I am well known for my objections to gathering of national data within early years, and my campaigning around Baseline and phonics tests (and more). However, my view about national data covers a lot more areas – the main reason is gathering of data reduces individuals to a piece of averaged data; it is used to create sticks with which to beat people into submission and to try to get them to overcome the impossible and create a standard unit of a human (child or adult) who is the same as every other standard unit of a human. This leads to tick box criteria, and pass and fail levels, with the pass score getting higher and higher year on year.

Well I don’t want to be a standard unit of a human – I want to ‘me’, with my own personal strengths and weakness (not that I like the word weakness because I don’t think the area I don’t excel at are a weakness). I just don’t excel at them – and I have numerous reasons for this, including a lack of personal passion and therefore drive or motivation to excel at some things.

And this is fine!  We do not all have to be the same. we do not all need to excel at everything.  because society needs a wide range of people with different skills. If we were all the same, society would just not work, and people would all want the highest paid jobs, the most perks and so on. What is wrong with being different, being yourself?

I most certainly do not want children to be defined as a standard unit of a human, I do not want their interests (and so passion and motivation) to be stamped on, preventing them from excelling at something, just so they can meet a standard definition of a GLD

So coming back to this GLD, what is it? I would argue that actually it is different for every single person, and also that we currently record development in the wrong way. Each and every child will develop in their own way and in their own time (even the government recognises this). Some children will excel at Maths, or science, or dance, or caring for others, or making others laugh and relax – but none of them will excel at all of those things. Please note that I have included skills not currently valued by tests or GLD records.

Another issue is not all children are going to ‘peak’ and achieve at the same moment in time, and it is soul destroying for children to be assess as failing, or being behind, just because they are the youngest in the year group, or have missed a lot of education due to ill health, or their lives have fallen to pieces due to death in the family, poverty, constant changes of homes and any of  the ACE’s a child may encounter.

Children need to be considered as unique individuals and their strengths, their interests , their personal situation noted. They do not need to be assessed against national criteria lists, or marked against a standard GLD chart and then turned into a piece of national data.

One child may read at 3 and become a life long reader, one may not read until 9 and yet still go to university. one may struggle and not gain a degree until 57, one may not engage in mainstream education at all, but be an expert with computers , one may go to university but fail to gain employment in that field and have to retrain, one may drop out of education and yet become a millionaire – all of these examples are taken from members of my own family – what actually happened to these unique individuals who did not become a standard unit of a human.

So do I think children do not need to be assessed? Far from it – but they do not need to become a piece of data. Teachers have all the skills needed to assess their students, to encourage them to develop in general terms but to their own ability and with consideration to their personal situation. Children will flourish and reach their own potential if they are able to follow their interests, good teachers will support this and forget about teaching to the  test, but will skilfully fit in other skills into areas of interest. This is possible if not teaching to the test, for example being able to read is not just achieved through graded readers and phonics sessions, it can be taught by linking to interests; history does not just have to be via a national curriculum it can be about any aspect of history and any point in time.

I hate comparison charts, I hate lists of who can do what displayed for all to see , such as who is on what reading level, who can count to 20, who can hold a pencil in a triangle grip – none of this is important for the world to know, this should just be for the teachers records and to share with parents.

And don’t get me started on ability tables – what a silly idea. All of us have things we are good at, all of us learn in different ways and all have things we find harder – so what is the point of ability tables? Why not just have tables that anyone can sit at, and use the benefits of children supporting each other.

A GLD – is unique to each child, for some children this will be ‘typical’ and they will make good progress through the ‘norms’ but for other children it will be more gradual, more varied and could be in very small steps BUT for that child it will still a GLD!

In conclusion then, I don’t actually have much confidence that Ofsted will stop collecting data, will stop recording GLD, and therefore that teachers will stop teaching to the test.

It is a step in the right direction but there is a very long way to go.

To ensure every child reaches their own personal potential we all must focus much more on child well- being, on happiness, on feeling positive about themselves, of feeling good about their own achievements and value.

And for that to happen there needs to be a complete rethink about just what is the purpose of education and why GLD needs to standard to all – because logic says that is an impossible task.

Posted October 11, 2018 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

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