At Easterside Academy in order to prepare our children for the Year 6 End of Key Stage tests, there is firstly an agreed understanding that this is the job of all the teaching and learning staff within the school and not solely the Year 6 staff; whatever their role is and whichever area of the school they work in. We have an agreed understanding about what we expect from the children at Easterside Academy and what we want them to be able to do by the time they leave us, not just in relation to academic achievements. This is something that is revisited as a whole staff at the start of every new academic year, through different activities and tasks. It is part of what makes our culture and ethos. Over the last three years this has included agreeing on aspects such as:
- What life skills do we want our pupils to have by the time they leave us?
- How do our children learn best? What do they need?
- What experiences do we want our children to have had by the time they leave us? (101 Things to do by the time you leave Easterside Academy – this is built into our new curriculum).
- What behaviours do we expect to see when you observe learning taking place at Easterside Academy?
As well as these exercises ensuring we have a shared understanding they also ensure everyone’s expectations are high in all aspects of school life and these are displayed throughout the school. These activities have also not been stand-alone but have been embedded into our culture and practice, be it through our curriculum or forming ‘Agreed Practices’ that then feed into teaching and learning observations and performance management.
Agreed Practices / Non Negotiables
‘Agreed Practices’ and ‘Non Negotiables’ are a strong feature of our teaching and learning at Easterside Academy which can clearly be seen from nursery right through to Year 6. These practices show progression and ensure that throughout the school there are high expectations and consistency for all the pupils. This includes what resources are made available to support writing, through to how we teach pupils to read. No time is wasted at the start of a new year explaining to the children what resources and materials they can use to support their learning; or how certain things are taught or done in this room. The consistency of the agreed practices in every classroom allows pupils to know these things already whoever their teacher that year might be. Additionally, we balance this well with also encouraging staff to be innovative and to try out new ideas.
Examples of some Agreed Practices / Non Negotiables:
- What should be displayed within the classroom to support learning and behaviour.
- Non-negotiables for writing (expectations clear – differentiated for key stages – used by SLT when monitoring pupil books).
- How we teach pupils to write at EA.
- Maths daily / weekly practices.
- How pupils self-evaluate / scale their learning.
At Easterside Academy we have a strong field of TAs who are involved in all aspects of teaching and learning. Every TA has an area of the school or teaching and learning that they’re responsible for, alongside their daily classroom practice e.g. ‘Parental Engagement Team’; TA delivery of ‘Letters and Sounds’; identified ‘communal areas’. (This is subject to their level). This responsibility has helped to give them ownership of the school and gives them the opportunity to demonstrate a range of skills and strengths; and in some cases help lead on new initiatives.
As a school we have also budgeted to allow our TAs to stay later one night a week and join our teachers for meetings. This allows us to fully involve TAs in all aspects of teaching and learning as equals. For example CPD, moderating exercises, planning and pupil progress meetings where their input is very valuable. This has undoubtedly up skilled our support staff over the years leading to highly effective support within the main lessons and interventions.
Pupil progress meetings are held in teams and led by a member of the SLT. In our school these are the team leaders – EYs / KS1 / KS2 (although the KS2 meeting is held with the Y3/4 team and then the Y5/6). To ensure expectations are transparent a ‘crib sheet’ is agreed each year outlining the format the pupil progress meetings will take and what specific areas will be of focus. Meetings are monitored by the Head / Deputy and Governors. Staff come well prepared with our in house progress tracking sheet along with Target Tracker data, but there is also an expectation that they have analysed their own data first prior to the meeting and can talk not just about individuals, but also about specific groups e.g. ‘boys’, ‘pupil premium’. The SLT receive copies of progress data in advance of the meeting in order for them to be able to interrogate it and therefore pose relevant and in some cases, challenging questions at the meetings.
Children at Easterside Academy are eager and excited to become a Year 6 child due to the high profile they are given within the school e.g. responsibilities, jobs etc. There are clear expectations about what is expected of them. This is made clear through an early pupil and parent meeting where by both pupils, parents and staff sign a Year 6 agreement. This ensures that our parents understand the importance of this final year and makes clear the role they have to play in supporting the school and more importantly their child. Staff share their role in supporting the children through their final
primary year; and the child knows what they will need to do which includes completing homework every week by Friday. This is so that when they move into smaller groups on a Friday morning (groups of around 5 – 10), the key adult working with them will take them through the homework marking it with them, using mistakes and misconceptions as key teaching points. Further adult teaching support on Fridays is budgeted for to allow this to happen.
We do introduce ‘Booster’ type sessions after school later on in Year 6, usually later on in the Spring Term. Children help to plan the sessions and identify what they need help with, taking responsibility for their own learning. The sessions have a relaxed atmosphere and building stronger relationships with the adults is key. At Easterside Academy we’ve found this impacts greatly on the pupil attitudes to learning and in turn the level of effort given.
Year 6 pupils also have their own ‘Individual Pupil Tracker’. These are used with the pupil to have valuable conversations between them and the Year 6 staff about their practice paper scores and what areas they need to focus on to improve. The marking of practice papers (which are mapped out throughout the year) is carried out together as a class. Pupils are encouraged and supported to analyse their own paper, being willing and open to share their mistakes/errors in order to learn from them next time.
Within each team at Easterside including the Year 5/6 team, we are constantly striving to build up expertise. This is done through lots of moderating exercises that include all TAs to ensure there is lots of familiarity with what is expected and what the National Standard and higher level / greater depth looks and feels like. Outstanding and good practice is shared and used in order to increase that expertise among all teaching staff. There is a very clear and shared understanding of where the pupils need to get to – expectations are high.
We also give our Year 6 pupils lots to look forward to e.g. Visit to Carlton; running and organising the Summer Fair; taking part in the £5 challenge as well as Friday afternoon ‘Terrific Treats’. This is a reward introduced in Year 6 that rewards the children for making the right choices in relation to their learning and behaviour, and it gives them some down time to relax and enjoy themselves at the end of the week!