Measuring and Labelling Beyond Academic Achievement
Think of two children you know. Now describe those two children, their attributes, interests, personality and wellbeing. In your head you are slowly building a profile of the strengths and positives of that child. The characteristics that make them as a whole. You might be thinking of future careers they may enjoy. These are probably aspirational ideals. If you are thinking about your own child you might of stated you “just want them to be happy”.
This is not a statement where “just” is an appropriate adverb, this is a seriously aspirational objective for young people with SEN (Special educational needs). The social, emotional, academic skills needed to achieve this are many and varied. Moreover the ability to apply these in the correct situations to determine future happiness is an incredibly nuanced and difficult task.
As a teacher, I am required to build up a profile of the children I teach. I have many profiles for each child, the one I share with parents in which I build a portfolio of their skills, achievements, successes and anecdotes. I like this one it’s meaningful and accessible paints a picture of the individual. The assessment profile defined by attainment, this identifies areas to focus on in planning and lessons, for teachers and support staff. With careful analysis this can identify strengths and inform teaching methods & support requirements. I have yet to meet the parent who wants to see this in detail.
Legally speaking I must set my students outcomes (EHCP) to make progress. Can these be achievable but still convey the high expectations needed? Can they be aspirational but not set the child up to fail? I would love to hear your views on this.
Target setting in SEN is a whole other blog but basically label them as you wish, target, outcomes or objectives. These are often linked to the official data that follows them throughout the school. Data is to all intents despite assessment without levels still a quantitative measure of progress (most of my students are still using P-Scales). Data places children into categories, quartiles and other groupings that don’t reflect the individuals personality, their hard earned successes or self esteem boosting achievements. Ofsted are due to visit this term. I hope they ask for the stories behind the Data.