Tabytha's Universe

…somewhere for my thoughts, loves, rants, interests & inspirations


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My Heart Is Breaking.

Hello Lovely Followers,

I’m sorry but today I just had to share this upsetting article that I found on TES while looking for resources for our next topic at school.

I can’t believe how widespread this issue is – teachers report an increasing number of children are coming to school hungry – but I know that in both the primary schools I’ve worked in, I’ve given food (fruit or toast) to pupils who haven’t had breakfast, I’ve even sorted out a lunch for a KS1 child (7yrs old) who came into school with an unwashed lunch-box that had mould growing in the compartments and a mouldy mini sausage roll in the bottom section!

Suffice to say, in every case, procedures are followed and incidents like this are always recorded.

 

Exclusive: ‘Mum didn’t have any food’ – the rise of pupil hunger

Schools increasingly stepping in to provide food for children and families

Boy sad hungry

They are heartbreaking but all too obvious tell tale signs – grey-faced children and pupils rummaging through the school bins for scraps of food.

Teachers are warning that more and more children are coming to school ill-equipped for learning because they are not getting enough to eat at home.

Celia Dignan, senior policy adviser at the NEU teaching union, told Tes: “Teachers are telling us that they are increasingly seeing children coming to school hungry because they haven’t been able to have a nutritious breakfast.

The trend is confirmed by the results of a snap Tes online poll of teachers this week in which 88 per cent of respondents said that they had noticed a rise in the number of pupils coming to their school hungry. More than 90 per cent said had provided food for undernourished pupils.

Benefit changes were the most commonly cited reason, closely followed by parental neglect.

Caroline Rodgers, headteacher of Brockley Primary School in Chesterfield, said: “Sometimes the kid will say, ‘I have tummy ache’.

“You ask what they had for their breakfast – sometimes they’ll say, ‘Mum didn’t have any food.’ Other times you just get that stare, and they don’t need to say it.

Nathan Atkinson, the former head of Richmond Hill Primary in inner-city Leeds, knew there was a problem at his school when he realised his pupils were scavenging food from the rubbish.

You’d find that when you put fruit out, there were children who were putting three or four pieces of fruit in their pocket,” he said. “Or somebody had discarded a half-eaten apple, and another child had taken it from the bin and was eating that apple – what was left of it.”

After introducing successful initiatives in his school, from buying a toaster for every classroom to hosting a café on two days a week for pupils’ families, he founded Fuel for School, a not-for-profit company that sends unwanted food to schools to sell through their own market stalls via voluntary donations from parents.

The scheme’s success led to Mr Atkinson being shortlisted for the 2017 Global Teacher Prize.

At Medina Primary in Portsmouth headteacher, Howard Payne, has seen a sharp increase in the number of children arriving for school at the start of the week looking visibly hungry.

It’s a very sensitive issue,” he said. “You have to look for clues, one of which is children will look withdrawn and grey in pallor. The school tries to help families as much as it can, and as subtly as possible. For some families, we put food into a plastic bag and the children take it home,” Mr Payne said.“We’ve sent a letter to their parents, saying ‘This is available, if you feel you don’t want to accept it, please let me know.’ All of them have accepted it.”

This is an edited article from the 20 April edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week’s Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and like Tes on Facebook

Source: Exclusive: ‘Mum didn’t have any food’ – the rise of pupil hunger | Tes News


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Sage Advice From Fellow Blogger – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Good Evening Everyone,

As I sit here, browsing social media to help relieve the stresses of another working week, I came across the following post from fellow blogger, Shaz, that I need to share with you.

Shaz, like me is married with children (unlike me, her kids are already in their 20’s) and works in a primary school. She is an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and is passionate about early help. She’s got a wealth of experience and is a member of Bournemouth’s Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth.

Shaz is also passionate about reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet and has been blogging for eight years. I always find something interesting to read on her site and I hope you enjoy reading this too.

I have added a link to her blog at the bottom of this post that will open in a new tab so that you can check out her site for yourself.

 

How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Improves Quality of Life

Mental and emotional health is something that touches all our lives. In the past I’ve received counselling but it wasn’t until my GP referred me for CBT that I understood more about my thoughts and the changes I could make. A family member is currently on this healing journey and previous therapy didn’t have the impact that his current CBT sessions are having. Last year at school I worked with our link trainee Educational Psychologist to create and deliver a CBT programme for KS2 children.

CBT is a valuable tool for all ages and my guest today, Leigh Adley of Set Your Mind Free, is highlighting how this can help the elderly.

Set Your Mind Free Leigh Adley CBT

If you’ve always wondered what CBT is or the process that the therapy takes you through, you will be much clearer after reading Leigh’s article.

How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Improves Quality of Life

As we grow old, our bodies begin to weaken. This makes the elderly especially vulnerable to serious physical diseases and conditions including arthritis, diabetes, cancer, dementia and cardiovascular problems. Often, any prescribed medicines merely relieve the pain and don’t offer a cure. On top of that patients may also suffer from psychological disorders or depression. These factors combined can also make a person feel suspicious or even hostile to others.

Fortunately, there are effective holistic approaches that Long-term Care (LTC) facilities can use to help their elderly patients. One of them is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy?

It’s a type of psychotherapy that helps patients deal with their problems by tackling their mental, emotional and behavioural issues. CBT is effective because it allows patients to see how their negative thoughts affect their actions.

In CBT, patients will realise the event itself is not the cause of their emotions but how they interpret that event. Take, for example, a patient’s son or daughter who doesn’t call or visit for several days making them sad or depressed. Instead of harbouring negative thoughts, CBT can help them consider other reasons like their child probably has a busy schedule at the moment.

This treatment method helps elderly patients in dealing with two major issues:

Pain management

CBT can change a patient’s view about pain. The therapy can make them realise that less pain means improved quality of life. This method can also change how the patient’s brain responds to chronic pain. Doctors can also combine CBT with other remedies like medications or physical therapy.

However, some medical studies show that CBT, compared to medications or surgery, is more effective for controlling pain because it has fewer risks and side effects.  Furthermore, CBT helps patients to develop a positive problem-solving attitude and useful life skills in dealing with pain and other issues in their lives.

Battling depression

Depression affects all people including the elderly but their symptoms are different probably due to the various illnesses they may have and the effects of the medicines used in their treatment. When the elderly get depressed they face an increased risk of:

  • Cardiac diseases
  • Death from illness
  • Reduced ability to rehabilitate

Because depression has a serious effect on the elderly, LTC doctors and nurses need to address it immediately.

CBT deals with depression through talk therapy, which can work better than medication. For severe cases, however, a combination of CBT and drug treatment can also work effectively.

How does it work?

The patient can meet and talk with a therapist for at least 30 to 60 minutes with CBT sessions often held once a week or twice a month. In the initial meeting, the therapist will determine if the patient is comfortable with the session and if CBT is suitable.

Patients should also expect the therapist to delve into their past and background. Such information is needed by the therapist to understand the patient’s current situation. In every step of the session, however, the patient has full control throughout and can refuse to discuss anything they might feel uncomfortable talking about.

In CBT, the therapist will take the following steps to assist patients in learning about their negative behaviour and how to best correct it:

  • The patients will divide each problem into different sections. Also, they may need a diary to identify their emotions, thoughts or actions.
  • With the therapist’s help, the patients can examine their behaviour, thoughts and feelings (and how this affects them personally as well as others). Also, if it’s unrealistic or unhelpful, both therapist and patient can find out ways to change that negative behaviour.
  • The therapist will assign homework that can make patients ‘forget’ their bad behaviour and reinforce positive ones. These simple assignments give patients the chance to apply the changes to their daily lives.
  • If a task isn’t working the patient can discuss it with their therapist in the next session.
  • Another advantage of CBT is that it allows patients to continue applying what they learned even after the sessions.

What makes CBT different from other depression treatments?

CBT deploys a short-term approach that requires anywhere between 6 to 20 sessions. In contrast to traditional treatments, CBT also:

  • Focuses on changing present thoughts and behaviours.
  • Sets goals during every session, including long term ones.
  • Lets patients monitor their feelings and thoughts. Afterwards, the therapist helps them deal with them by teaching valuable coping and problem-solving skills.

As LTC professionals we should always strive to look for the best ways to deal with whatever mental, emotional and behavioural issues our residents face.  CBT is the right step towards achieving that goal.

Leigh Adley of Set Your Mind Free

Leigh Adley is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist/psychotherapist based in Milton Keynes.

Her site, Set Your Mind Free aims to help people get rid of their unwanted habits or addictions.

Emotional Health on Jera’s Jamboree.

Source: How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Improves Quality of Life – Jera’s Jamboree


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Times Tables Back On The National Curriculum

Hello Everyone,

As some of you may already know, I work as a teaching assistant in a local primary school. My job is primarily to help those children who struggle, for whatever reason, and ensure that they are given every opportunity to achieve their educational potential.

I was distressed when I read an article written by a BBC analysis who suggests that it will take 50 years to close the achievement gap between England’s rich and poor pupils – you can read it here.

To help reduce the gap a UK Government times tables check is coming. From June 2020, all children in England will take an online timed times tables check at the end of Year 4. To find out more, you can access the National Curriculum for Maths on the Government’s Department for Education website here .

In our school, we use a variety of methods to help our children learn. One of the children’s favourite is the comprehensive online maths tool, Mathletics, which is full of educational tasks and fun games to help cement a child’s learning.

But I’ve also found these great resources that I want to share with you.

 

LEARN YOUR TIMES TABLES AS YOU PLAY

Times Square is a fun game by Oxford based company, ThinkNoodleGames . “Times Square is an exciting, cooperative maths card game that makes learning and practising times tables fast and fun. Team up, play together, and clear Times Square of Zombies!

1 to 6 players | 10-20 mins | Age 7 to Adult

SmartyMaths Times Table Flash Cards Set of 144.

  • Complete Set Of 144 Flash Cards from the 1x table to 12x table
  • Double sided card with a single fact on one side with the answer on the FLIP side
  • The fact set is colour coded with bright vibrant colours
  • Storage box with lid to hold all the cards. Perfect learning aid for Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) Math

12 TIMES TABLE TELLER – paper fortune teller

Bournemouth based Printabellaprint create fun and Quirky printables for you and your little ones!I’ve created a fortune teller for each mulitplication from 2 – 12. The answers are hidden behind the folds so that they don’t see the answer and cheat! You can play it anyway you like.


Sumbox Multiplication Square Educational Times Tables Maths Poster 

  • Multi colour Multiplication Square
  • Times tables from 1 to 12
  • Numeracy vocabulary
  • Aids learning process
  • Professionally printed and laminated

As with any skill or knowledge, frequent, short and repetitive are all key words when it comes to learning no matter what your age. 🙂

I hope you found this post informative, feel free to leave a comment.

Enjoy your weekend.

 


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Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070) Part 3

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 11: Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Be able to support inclusion and inclusive practices  in work with children and young people.

Question 3.1: Explain what is meant by inclusion and inclusive practices.

In the early 1900s, there existed a separate system of schooling for pupils who were classified as ‘handicapped’. Shockingly, this segregation continued right up until the 1980s and 1990s, when excluding children, young people and adults from the mainstream education system because of disability or learning difficulty was regarded as negative discrimination and as a major human rights issue.

A number of international human rights agreements supported the view that compulsory segregation in education is against children’s and young people’s basic human rights. These include; the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) and UNESCO’s Salamanca Statement (1994).

In recent times, the UK government has been committed to promoting the inclusion of all pupils into mainstream schools that recognise and celebrate human diversity. As previously cited throughout this course, UK legislation such as the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act (2001) and the statutory guidance in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (2001), now requires educational institutions to provide equality of opportunity and to ensure that no learners are prevented from participating fully in education or disadvantaged because of factors such as; gender, SEN, disability, social and cultural backgrounds, ethnic groups (including travellers, refugees and asylum seekers), diverse linguistic backgrounds, etc. The National Curriculum Statutory Inclusion Statement (2000) states that,

Schools have a responsibility to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils.  The National Curriculum is the starting point for planning a school curriculum that meets the specific needs of individuals and groups of pupils.

(UK Government (Online), Statutory Inclusion Statement, [Available] http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090902230247/curriculum.qcda.gov.uk/key-stages-1-and-2/inclusion/statutory-inclusion-statement/index.aspx (20/11/2016))

Principles of an inclusive education services is based on having high expectations of all pupils and supporting them to achieve their full potential. It is underpinned by the belief that all pupils have abilities and the capacity to benefit from learning experiences. For a school to offer an inclusive curriculum it should set suitable learning challenges that are relevant to pupils while responding to their pupils’ diverse learning needs. A setting must identify, understand and overcome potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals as well as groups of pupils. In other words, an educational setting has a responsibility to ensure that no pupils are disadvantaged and that all pupils, whatever their circumstances or abilities, are able to participate in and enjoy the setting’s activities.

Our school has an attached Resource Base for children with ASD who integrate with our mainstream pupils as much as possible on a daily basis depending on their individual needs. When talking to our Deputy Head about our inclusive practices, she reminded me that many of the actions we do naturally are defined as inclusive practices, such as being approachable, welcoming and genuinely interested. We have adaptive policies and procedures i.e. a system exists where policies and procedures of a setting can be (and are) updated to ensure they enable inclusion. We encourage our pupils to respect their fellow schoolmates and their environment. We have a reflective approach to practice so that we can see how we handle and manage situations that involve inclusion. We create many enjoyable experiences that are appropriate to their ages and abilities so that they can learn from. All our staff have a professionally positive attitude which is also an inclusive practice; we are able to identify learning needs, diffuse conflict, source resources, share information, act as role models for inclusion and we monitor and evaluate the environment i.e. check that there are no barriers to inclusion and where there are we are able & confident in removing them.

So, to summarise, inclusion is about joining in, being part or a setting and importantly, feeling included and not left out; this can be nurtured in many simple ways, including; making sure that every child or young person takes his/her turn during an activity, welcoming back pupils who have been absent, making sure that he/she gets to experience success and by ensuring sure that he/she knows that the rules of behaviour apply to everyone equally e.g. “you are not allowed to hit another pupil and other pupils are not allowed to hit you”. Inclusive practices on the other hand, are words or actions which encourage every pupil in the school or setting to join in and be part of the school as a whole; these practices can be simply to understand what a particular child or young person requires to be able to join in an activity and ensuring that his/her needs are met; in other words, removing any barriers that may exist, involving the child and his/her family in any planning, tailoring the teaching methods to ensure that it is suitable, etc.

 

Question 3.2: Identify barriers to children and young people’s participation.

As mentioned when answering the previous question, an educational setting has a responsibility to ensure that no pupils are disadvantaged and that all pupils, whatever their circumstances or abilities, are able to participate in and enjoy the setting’s activities. It is therefore important to review the strategies in use in order that any barriers to participation are identified and steps are taken to overcome these where possible, so that pupils have access to a full range of activities and experiences.

While researching this subject, I have come to realise that barriers that prevent a child or young person from participating can come in many shapes and forms.

  • Situational barriers – the cost, or the lack of time, the distance from a learning opportunity and such situations created by the individuals own circumstances.
  • Institutional barriers – admission procedures, the timing and the scale of provisions and the general lack of institutional flexibility created by the structure of available opportunities.
  • Dispositional barriers – the individuals motivation and attitude towards learning, this may be caused by a lack of suitable learning opportunities.
  • Attitudinal barriers – prejudice, bias, discrimination, etc.
  • Language and preferred methods of communication such as English not being the ‘mother tongue’ or having a speech impairment,
  • mobility issues, such as a physical impairment or a financial constraints
  • Environmental barriers such as transport facilities, access and layout to buildings and finally
  • lack of information or knowledge, especially if new to an area or unable to access mainstream sources, e.g. internet, leaflets, Sure Start Centres, Citizen’s Advice Bureau

Looking specifically at children and young people with SEN and/or disabilities, these individuals may fall into at least one of four areas of need; sensory and/or physical, communication and interaction, cognition and learning, behaviour, emotional and social development. It should be said, however, that not every child or young person with a disability will have special educational need nor will every child or young person with special educational needs have a disability. Each one is unique and the support the school provides should always reflect his/her particular circumstances; I have learned never to make assumptions about strengths or weaknesses based on pupils’ perceived differences. This means that the impact of impairment on a pupil’s ability to function, learn and succeed should be taken into account when planning how to support him/her and how to best overcome barriers to participation.

Looking at the five SPICE areas of development, barriers to participation could include:

  • A medical condition such as asthma, allergies, epilepsy or a chronic illness, etc. could pose a physical barrier for a child or young person as could a sensory and/or physical need, such as blindness, deafness or loss of a limb, etc.
  • If a child or young person has a cognitive and/or learning disorder like ADP (Auditory Processing Disorder), dyslexia, Down syndrome, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, etc. it would make participation in the “normal” setting difficult thus creating barrier for him/her.
  • A barrier to participation can also be created if the child or young person has any communication and/or interaction difficulties, such as if English is an additional language (EAL), or if he/she has a condition like autism, Asperger syndrome, stammering, etc.
  • Social, emotional and/or behaviour difficulties such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADAH (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Tourette syndrome, etc. will also make it hard for a child or young person to join in the “normal” way.

So, in conclusion, a barrier is something that stops or makes it hard for a child or young person to join in with his/her peers.  The cause of this barrier could come from any number of underlying difficulties affecting one or a combination of the five key areas of development (SPICE) or be related to family or outside situations and issues such as finances or location. The important thing is that any barrier – or potential barrier – is identified quickly and steps are taken to overcome it, thus allowing the child or young person to participate to the best of their ability and achieve their potential.

Question 3.3: Demonstrate ways of supporting inclusion and inclusive practices in own work with children and young people assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

That’s it, you can find all of my answers for this Teaching Assistant Level 3 course here on my blog, just use the search box or click on the tag Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools or any other tag of relevance.

If you are interested in learning how to be a Teaching Assistant for children and young people with Special Educational Needs, De Montfort College does offer an additional three units to this course that cover this subject.


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Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070) Part 2

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 11: Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Understand the impact of prejudice and discrimination on children and young people.

Question 2.1: Explain ways in which children and young people can experience prejudice and discrimination:

It is a fact (and a very unfair one) that the options and opportunities for many children are limited from an early age because of the ways they and their families are treated by other people. In her book, Teaching Assistant’s Handbook, Teena Kamen describes prejudice as,

an opinion formed prematurely or without consideration of all the relevant information. Prejudice can arise due to ignorance about the differences (and similarities) between individuals and a lack of understanding or intolerance of other people’s individual needs and preferences,

(Kamen, T (2011) Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 3, Hodder Education, London)

in other words prejudice is an attitude, opinion or feeling (usually negative) that is formed without knowledge, thought or reason. Teena Kamen goes on to describe discrimination as,

biased and unfair treatment based in inaccurate judgements (prejudice) about an individual or group of people due to their age, gender, race, culture or disability

(Kamen, T (2011) Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 3, Hodder Education, London)

meaning that it is actions based on prejudice again a person or group of people.

In Britain, discrimination is unlawful and can be classed as direct, indirect or institutional and can be intended or unintentional.

  • Direct discrimination occurs when an individual or group receives less favourable treatment than others because of some unjustifiable reason. These reasons could include age; asylum/refugee status; caring responsibilities; class; disability; ethnic or national origin; gender; gender reassignment; HIV status; language; marital status; nationality; philosophical belief; race; religious belief (or non-belief); or sexual orientation. For example, assuming a child may not be able to reach a certain level of work because they are disabled is direct discrimination and is unlawful whether or not someone meant it.
  • Indirect discrimination occurs when unjustifiable requirements and conditions are applied that have a disproportionate impact on an individual or particular group. For example, giving preference to a child whose parent has in the past attended the school. While this may be applied equally to all potential pupils, it could put the children of Irish Travellers or migrant workers at a disadvantage because they are less likely than local people to be able to meet the criterion, therefore, it is potentially classed as indirect discrimination on grounds of race.
  • Institutional discrimination occurs when an organisation fails to provide appropriate and professional service because of an individual’s or particular group’s background or experience. This type of discrimination can take the form of institutional attitudes, behaviours and procedures which disadvantage people. An example I remember hearing on the news some years ago was about a hospital in a multi-ethnic town that offered a white foot, or the option of paying a considerable sum for a black foot, to a black woman requiring a prosthetic foot. The offer was not intentionally discriminatory or deliberately offensive on the part of the person offering it but reflected a lack of thought, sensitivity and preparation for the potential needs of a multi-ethnic community by the hospital, the institution.

In researching this question, I have come to realise that most children and young people have experienced prejudice and indirect discrimination from a very early age as there are gender specific colours, clothes, toys, etc. “girls wear pink and play with dollies and boys wear blue and play with cars”.

Children and young people who are physically different from their peers, for example, require glasses, hearing aids or need to use wheelchairs may experience prejudice and discrimination in the form of being called unkind names, made fun of by other children or not asked to join in playtime games.

Children and young people can also experience physical and/or verbal abuse in the form of bullying by one or more peers as a result of being stereotyped.

Those children or young people who come from a another country, ethnic group, family background, have different religious beliefs, etc. from that of the majority in a school may also find themselves being excluded from playtime games or even ostracised in extreme instances because of their differences to the majority.

It is also a sad fact that some children and young people may even experience prejudice and discrimination from their own families, for example in situations where parents do not have realistic expectations of their child, both when those expectations are too high or too low or expect their child to follow a specific path – their path not the child’s.

 

Question 2.2: Analyse the impact of prejudice and discrimination on children and young people:

Discrimination can take the form of verbal or non-verbal abuse, distribution of abusive or offensive literature or materials, offensive graffiti, threats, physical attacks or deliberately ostracising another person. Regardless of the nature of the discrimination suffered or whether it is because of sexual orientation, race, age, religion, size, ability or gender identity, discrimination erodes an individual’s dignity and their ability to participate in society as an equal.

Discrimination not only affects individuals or specific groups but our society itself, for example, the best people may not always be given jobs or positions of power, views and attitudes of groups of people may not be represented and groups of people may turn against society because they feel that they have nothing to lose and are not part of any system.

As already covered in Unit 1, during their early years, children are developing their sense of identity, self-worth and self-esteem. They are learning how others see them and treat them; they react to what they experience and see around them. This learned behaviour was also briefly cited above when answering question 1.3 Explain the importance and benefits of valuing and promoting cultural diversity in work with children and young people, highlighting that by the age of three or four, children have started to understand racial and gender differences. This form of learned behaviour can have long term effects. For example, those children and young people, who are picked on or treated unfairly because they are seen as different, may grow up with a view of themselves as somehow inferior, the discrimination causing damage to their developing sense of self-worth, self-esteem and confidence. This may mean that they may not try out new activities for fear of failing and could even develop serious emotional and social problems later in life, such as eating disorders, self-harming or finding it hard to form relationships.

When children and young people are victims of discrimination and/or prejudice, they will most certainly experience hurt of some kind not least the emotional hurt that comes from feeling second-rate. These attitudes will most likely interfere with their ability to learn in a negative way; which in turn usually makes a child or young person feel less confident about themselves and will adversely affect their achievement in school. When a pupil begins to fall behind his/her peers and feels this way, it could lead to truancy or persuade a pupil to leave education earlier, which will affect their early opportunities, their social resources, self-worth and their engagement with wider society. Children and young people who are subjected to discrimination and prejudice need to be taught that discrimination is not their fault and is not the result of anything that they have done. Indeed, it should be said that prejudice narrows a child or young person’s outlook and makes them frightened of anything that is ‘different’ both for the one being prejudice and the one being prejudice against.

So, being a victim of discrimination can lead to ripple effects throughout a person’s life, affecting them in many ways. The effects of prejudice and discrimination are, without a doubt, very destructive and managing the elimination and combating of prejudice and discrimination will require energy, motivation and innovation. In the end everyone loses out from the effects of prejudice and discrimination.

 

Question 2.3: Evaluate how own attitudes, values and behaviour could impact on work with children and young people

As I already mentioned in previous assignments, what we think influences what we do; as a learning support practitioner, our beliefs and expectations therefore have a significant influence on the quality of learning of those individual’s that we support. For example, my values, what and how I think come from my specific upbringing, my culture and personal experiences which influences what I believe in, what I think about different forms of partnerships, other people’s standard of living, their transport, what I personally like and dislike, my experience with different parenting styles, e.g. smacking to manage behaviour. All of which can influence the way I work, how I react when faced with different situations, how I respond to difficulty and challenges, to discrimination and, of course, how I express myself.

Our assumptions – which include those preconceptions related to gender, cultural background and disability (which we may not be conscious of) – relate not only to how children and young people behave and learn but also to the nature and potential of certain groups of pupils. Thus, I understand that my self-awareness is an important factor in getting the best possible achievement from the pupils I support. I must be aware of my expectations of a particular group and how these may unwittingly put an artificial ceiling on pupils’ learning, which in some cases could result in them underachieving.

As a learning support practitioner, it is our legal obligation to openly welcome the children and their families or carers from all walks of life, from different countries, different incomes and to be able to offer a level of provision that respects each one of them equally without judgement.

I understand that we all carry prejudices around with us to one degree or another but it is important that we are honest with ourselves and think about those attitudes and habits.

When thinking about how I would answer this question, I decided that the best way to do this is was to ask myself whether there are certain people who make me feel threatened, awkward, intimidated or angry. I know that having any of these feelings towards a particular group of people is a sign that I may hold prejudices about them. If this turned out to be the case, I would make an effort to find out more about them; talk to people that I know who have more information. Alternatively, I know that there’s likely to be a group or organisation representing their interests that I could contact.

I feel my professional development in diversity, equality and anti-discriminatory practice has benefited from this course. I feel that I show my commitment to treating people equally and fairly as well as valuing the diversity of my colleagues by; being aware of legislation and guidance on these issues, understanding significant issues in relation to gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class and disability and understanding the impact that discrimination can have on the loves and life-chances of others, avoiding pre-judgement and fixed expectations, knowing how discrimination operates in society, promoting positive values, using anti-discriminatory practices that examine personal prejudices and committing ourselves to re-educating ourselves, ensuring that the school I work in is welcoming and unthreatening, where everyone feels valued because of their differences and not in spite of them, developing the awareness, confidence, skill and knowledge to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions effectively and finally by consistently monitoring, evaluating and adjusting my own practices.

 

Question 2.4: Explain how to promote anti-discriminatory practice in work with children and young people

All practitioners have a responsibility to value and respect the diversity of individuals and communities and to ensure that every child is included and not disadvantaged. Anti-discriminatory practice is a vital part of this and I feel that the best way to promote it is to lead by example; this can be achieved by not only being fair and unbiased but to also value the contribution that everyone is able to make. When the adults around a child or young person are always consistently not discriminating against others because of their race, religion, culture, gender or a disability in their words and actions the child themselves will begin to reflect these behaviours as they grow up and in turn potentially develop into a positive role model themselves.

Legislation, best practice documents and guidelines set out by both central and local government, will mean that each setting will have policies, procedures and strategies in place that actively promote equality and anti-discrimination. This demonstrates the importance society put on equality and anti-discrimination but it is the staff and adults linked with the setting that show evidence of this positive behaviour in their day-to-day dealings and activities with the pupils in their care that has the most direct impact.

An instant way that a setting can fight discrimination is by using positive images of adults, young people and children in the classrooms and throughout the establishment, not just with displays, posters and pictures but on toys, puzzles, jigsaws and other play materials. A project to create a “Family Tree Map” for either the whole setting or just a class will visually illustrate the diverse backgrounds that we all come from and inviting family members in to share their stories with the children and young people will highlight the wealth of experience each pupil’s family has.

Open discussions during circle time or within PSHE lessons, create opportunities for pupils to talk freely about their feelings and can be used to encourage them to focus on their abilities in positive ways, e.g. using the “I Can Tree” which recognises what each pupil can. Class discussions also allow for any stereotypical beliefs and misinformation to be dealt with by giving the balanced facts and information and encouraging pupils to find out more. Class or whole school celebrations of the various non-Christian faiths represented in Britain today, such as Diwali (Hindu), Chanukah (Jewish), Eid (Muslim) or Vesak (Buddhist) and inviting visitors into the setting such as female police officers or fire fighters, male nurses, people from different ethnic groups or people with disabilities to talk positively about their lives and their jobs also promotes diversity in a positive way.

There are other activities within a setting or classroom that support anti-discrimination teaching such as displaying signs and other information in community languages and/or in Braille which values language and communication diversity. Role play and imaginative play with toys, dolls and puppets gives children and young people the chance to use their imaginations, explore and experience situations from a different view point.

All these strategies to promote anti-discrimination while highlighting the diversities throughout our local and global communities should also leave the children with the understanding that underneath it all, even though we are all different, e.g. race, religion, culture, disability, gender, etc we all have just as many similarities that connect us all in this world, after all, we are all part of the human race.

 

Question 2.5: Explain how to challenge discrimination:

Most educational settings these days have good clear written policies about anti-discrimination which make it plain that prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated and that all pupils will have the opportunity to experience a challenging and enjoyable programme of learning and development.

We can challenge discrimination in many ways, including:

  • Leading by example and not being discriminating ourselves, whether directly or indirectly. For example, making sure that every child in the class gets their turn to answer questions, play with resources and received help when requested.
  • We can ensure that our knowledge of different world religions, cultures, races, etc is better by finding out more and encouraging others to do the same. For example, taking the time to research the differences within the local community, planning activities around different religions, cultures, races, etc., encouraging pupils to take an interest in current affairs and to see issues from different perspectives. Ensuring that pupils are given access to balanced information from different viewpoints, so that they can then clarify their own opinions and views.
  • By promoting a view of the world as a whole, rather than separate entities, we become all humans together with our differences being celebrated rather than condemned or ridiculed. After all, when cut every person on this planet will all bleed red blood – we are the same species! For example, seeking opportunities for pupils to meet people from other cultural backgrounds, e.g. during school assemblies, school visits, twinning with another school, etc. Giving pupils information about practical differences between people, e.g. diets, dress and religious holy days.
  • To challenge something, it needs to come out into the open, to talk about it so that any misinformation can be corrected. Provide accurate information to challenge stereotypes and biases. For example, encouraging pupils to become aware of prejudice in the same way they are aware of bullying or any other anti-social behaviour.
  • A child or young person learns from those around him/her, so encouraging family and local community support and engagement is an excellent way to create a balanced healthy environment. Perhaps holding events and initiatives to educate parents and carers are often a good idea.

Having said that, even in a school that actively promotes anti-discrimination and fights prejudice, there may still be instances of prejudice or discriminatory practices within the school community at large and although how anyone reacts to instances of prejudice or discriminatory behaviour will depend on the circumstances and the setting itself. If discrimination is observed, the behaviour or remark needs to be acknowledged and the discriminator told that it is unacceptable straight away. Any misinformation needs to be corrected and the person discriminated against needs to know that you support them and finally, all forms of discrimination must to be reported.

In the school that I am currently working in, we have the following strategies to help staff challenge discrimination and receive regular training on this subject:

Remaining calm

 

Know the reason why you are about to challenge assertively

  • What happened? What did you witness or what were made aware of? e.g. prejudice, bigotry, bias, etc
  • Why was the situation a negative or detrimental one; who was harmed/discriminated against?
  • What ‘labels are/were used?
  • What harm is occurring – emotional, physical, neglectful, insulting?

Are laws are being broken?

  • Stereotypical thoughts being expressed?
  • Marginalisation or attitudes that demean, isolate, humiliate another individual or group?
  • know it may not be vindictive/intolerance, rather it might be an action that expresses or shows lack of knowledge, is an inherited attitude or perspective, is fear, insensitivity

 

Initiate discussion

  • Direct confrontation can lead to angry exchanges; possibly causing the perpetrator to act defensively, this might cause them to become entrenched in their discriminatory behaviour. By respectfully sharing your thoughts with the perpetrator you are more likely to help that person engage with and explore the issues- hopefully reaching a new understanding.

 

Support those that have experienced discrimination

  • Remaining quiet where discrimination has happened can indicate your agreement with it.
  • By condoning discrimination/going along with it you risk damaging relationships with colleagues, the children, parents, other professionals, service providers, committing an offence and can potentially alienate yourself from the opportunities involved with providing a positive influence in your community.
  • You can make it clear by your verbal and body language that you disagree with the discrimination, want nothing more to do with it and be able to distance yourself.
  • It can help to know that by taking a public side with a victim of discrimination you also risk creating a situation of discrimination against perpetrators. This is detrimental where judgements are made to condemn the person rather than that person’s actions – which can change.

 

Know how to report discrimination

  • The equality act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation. By upholding the aims of the act you ensure your setting and practice is inclusive and offers equality in its service.
  • What complaints procedure does the setting have in place?
  • PCAW, ACAS, Whistleblowing policy, OFSTED poster and hotline

 

Identify discrimination in the setting’s environment and resources

  • can everyone move around the room with ease

  • are different cultures, abilities reflected in toys

  • are activities planned to explore contrasting lifestyles

Having these guidelines and strategies in place ensures that we challenge discrimination while promoting anti-discriminatory practice.

 

My answers for the next set of questions in this final unit will follow…


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Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070) Part 1

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 11: Promote equality, diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people (A/601/4070)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Be able to promote equality and diversity in work with children and young people.

Question 1.1: Identify the current legislation and codes of practice relevant to the promotion of equality and valuing diversity:

To create a society that values diversity and promotes equality the world’s various governing bodies have put into legislation various laws to highlight its importance. For instance the promotion of equality can be seen in Article 2 of The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of The Child which states that children and young people must be “protected from all forms of discrimination” which also goes to ensure that children are not only viewed as part of society but that they are respected as a valued part of society too. The UN has a wealth of laws relating to human rights which are created and used to promote fairness throughout the world, for example the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN is constantly working together governments around the world to promoting equality and helping to create protective legislation that values the diversity of the world’s population.

Fairness, valuing diversity and equal opportunities for all is key in all legislation passed by the European Union too, for example Renewed commitment for non-discrimination and equal opportunities, A framework strategy for non-discrimination and equal opportunities for all, Equal treatment irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, The principle of equal treatment between persons and Agenda for the Rights of the Child Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child are six pieces of EU legislation that were solely created to promote equality. The EU’s commitment to equality can also be seen in the Union’s ethos

Respect for human rights and dignity, together with the principles of freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, are values common to all European Union (EU) Member States

(EUROPA, The founding principles of the Union, Online [available] http://europa.eu/scadplus/constitution/objectives_en.htm (10/11/2016))

Britain’s main equal opportunities legislation is the Equality Act 2010 which provides a legal structure to not only protect people’s individual rights but which also actively promotes a fair and more equal society for everyone. The main laws that have been merged into The Equality Act 2010 are:

Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, Disability Discrimination Act 1995, Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, Equality Act 2006, Part 2 and Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

(Equality and Human Rights Commission, What Is The Equality Act? (Online) [Available] https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/equality-act-2010/what-equality-act (10/11/2016))

The Equality Act also includes statutory codes of practice for equality, equal pay and employment for public services, functions and associations.

The Race Relations Act 2000 builds on the Equality Act by ensuring that educational settings promote race equality, to have a written race equality policy, to introduce measures to assess the impact of their policies and to monitor the impact on pupils, staff and parents. This Act means that schools have a duty of care to ensure good relationships between those from different backgrounds are built and maintained and gives schools the legal backing to tackle racism. The British government also created the Code of Practice on the Duty to promote race equality (2002) to help school tackle this issue by giving them a framework to work within that not only covers the academic achievement of pupils from different backgrounds but also ensuring that our multi cultural society is also represented in a setting’s employees.

The Children Act 1989 is another important piece of legislation which states that all settings must have an equal opportunities policy in place and the Disability Discrimination Act 2005, the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 and the subsequent Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice 2001 were created to build upon existing acts by adding legislation that actively promotes equal opportunities which means that it’s just not enough to treat pupils, staff and people fairly but settings must encourage the growth and development of an anti-discriminatory environment within a mainstream environment. The aim of the Government’s strategy for SEN 2004 was to remove barriers to achievement for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. It reinforces the commitment made in the Green Paper ‘Every Child Matters’ (2003) to early intervention, inclusion, the raising of expectations and achievement, and the development of partnership networks.

Every setting is inspected to ensure that they are providing the level of educational standard expected within an appropriate environment; the National Curriculum Statutory Inclusion Statement (2000) and the Common Inspection Framework: education, skills and early years (2015) both highlight the importance of valuing diversity and the promotion of equality. Educational settings also have a myriad of statutory guidance and codes of practice relating to valuing diversity and promoting equality including Every Child Matters, Aiming High: Raising the Attainment of Gypsy Traveller Pupils, Community Cohesion Education Standards for Schools (2004), Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government’s Strategy  to Increase Race Equality and Community Cohesion (2005), Guidance on the Education of Children in Care (2000), Social Inclusion: Pupil Support (DfES Circular 10/99 July 1999) and Learning for All: Standards for Racial Equality in Schools (March 2000).

To comply with all of these laws and codes of practice setting will have their own policies in place relevant to the promotion of equality and valuing of diversity. For example, in the primary school that I am working in we have a number of policies in this area, such as; Able Gifted and Talented, Anti Bullying, Behaviour, Child Protection, Equality Information, Equality Smart Objective, Happy School, Inclusion, Playtime, SEND, Single Equalities, Spiritual – Moral – Social – Cultural and the Whole School Learning policy.

All of the above mentioned legislations and codes of practice highlight the importance of supporting every child and young person, of realising their worth and ensuring that these values continue for generations to come.

 

Question 1.2: Explain the importance of promoting the rights of all children and young people to participation and equality of access:

As a society, we have created legislation that promotes the rights of all children and young people to participation and equality of access, and although the British government failed to legalise the proposed “Children’s Rights” bill in 2010 that would have made the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child part of UK law, children and young people are not left unprotected.

The school and the education it provides have an important role to play in ensuring that those pupils from different backgrounds and of different abilities all have the same opportunities in life. The role of the school is to promote equality of opportunity and develop inclusive learning environments where all pupils and staff can feel safe, enjoy their work and be successful, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion or disability; making the most of the advantages that diversity brings and minimising any disadvantages.

To ensure that every child and young person’s rights to participation are being adhered to, every setting will have an Inclusion policy, policies for SEN and EAL as well as an equal opportunities policy and will be continually assessing their best practice guides, lesson guides, classroom environment and outside environment for any potential obstacles that may influence participation of their pupils. An obstacle or barrier to participation could be anything that stops or makes it hard for a child of young person to join in this could come from any number of personal or external factors. For example if a pupil’s social factors and family situations that may cause a pupil to feel excluded, e.g. religion, race, gender, economic, etc can create the feeling of exclusion. A pupil with a physical and/or sensory need or medical condition may find moving around the setting problematic or usual PE sessions difficult. A pupil with a cognitive and/or learning disorder could find participating in lessons challenging without extra help. Joining in group sessions may be a hurdle for a pupil with any communication and/or interaction difficulties and any social, emotional and/or behaviour difficulties may impede a pupil’s participation in not only academic lessons but in school play times too.

Being unable to join in with his or her peers can make a child or young person feel isolated or sad or angry or all three at once and these emotions can generate the negative outcome of a reduced capacity to learn, evolve and develop as expected, so by removing barriers or creating solutions to work around them the setting is enabling participation from all their pupils. Participating to their full potential, aids children’s development by reducing anxiety, depression and prevents subsequent behavioural problems.

Every adult and staff member in a setting should lead by example and promote inclusion by their words and actions, including; making sure that every pupil takes his/her turn during an activity, welcoming back pupils who have been absent, making sure that he/she gets to experience success and by ensuring sure that he/she knows that the rules of behaviour apply to everyone equally e.g. “you are not allowed to hit another pupil and other pupils are not allowed to hit you”. By school staff leading by example and becoming mole models for the children it improves tolerance levels, generates respect and reduces negative stereotypical views.

In reality these practices can be simply to understand what a particular child or young person requires to join in an activity and ensuring that his/her needs are met, involving the child and his/her family in any planning and tailoring the teaching methods to ensure that it is suitable.

So, in conclusion, why is promoting the rights of all children and young people important when it comes to participation and equality of access? Most importantly, I feel that it gives the chance for every pupil to reach their full potential. A fully supportive environment gives every pupil the chance of experiencing a positive learning experience , challenges as well as successes, which not only leads to a higher performance of the whole school but increased levels of child self-confidence and self esteem generating positive participation in society into adulthood.

 

Question 1.3: Explain the importance and benefits of valuing and promoting cultural diversity in work with children and young people:

Britain today is very much a multi-cultural, multi-racial society in which a large variety of cultural groups make a very positive contribution to our society. There are many benefits to valuing and promoting cultural diversity, including; improved levels of performance across the whole school, helping children and young people to be included and helping children and young people to develop.

Many schools are aware of the benefits of an ethos based on agreed core values, principles and practices such as consensual decision-making, pupil participation, positive relationships, recognition of the value of cultural and racial diversity and celebration of achievements. When such an ethos is closely aligned to teaching and learning, it will contribute to improved levels of performance across the whole school community. Diverse cultures in schools should be acknowledged and reflected throughout the curriculum which will contribute a richness and more exciting dimension to the learning activities.

All children are entitled to enjoy a full life in conditions which will help them take part in society and develop as individuals, with their own cultural and spiritual beliefs. However, some children’s development may be at risk, for example:

  • Children who are disabled and those with special educational needs
  • Children from socially excluded families, such as the homeless or those who live with a parent who is disabled or who has a mental illness
  • Children from traveller communities, refugees or asylum seekers
  • Children from diverse linguistic backgrounds

 

It is, therefore, important that the needs of these children are also given as much value as those in mainstream education; these differences can present an opportunity to see the world a different way, to enhance learning – not just theirs but yours too. My work with pupils with ASD has confirmed to me that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, opens a whole new world which, if valued, can generate not only personal growth but enhance practical skills too.

A child’s development can be promoted by exploring and discovering the people and things around them. Research has shown that children start to learn about the differences between people at a very early age. By the age of two or three, a child is aware of the difference between male and female and black and white people. By the time they are four years old, they are developing their own views about the different values attached to different people.

It is, therefore, important that all children should have the chance to learn about other cultures that are different from their own; they should be given information and background about various traditions, customs and festivals, even in geographical areas like mine, where there are few members of minority ethnic groups. These traditions should be presented with a sense of pleasure and enjoyment so that no one culture is represented as being better than another. Introducing information about a variety of cultures can be done in a fun way through posters, food, dressing-up clothes, stories and films.

Within the primary school that I am currently working in, opportunities are provided for all children to experience each others’ cultures, values and ethnic backgrounds. This is to ensure that our pupils understand, recognise and value the social and cultural diversity in their own community as well as around the world.

Teaching, supporting and encouraging children to not only understand diversity but to also accept it as a good thing, helps to prevent stereotyping and decreases prejudice and discrimination within schools. By recognizing and promoting cultural diversity and highlighting the wonderful differences of individuals and groups within our school, we can show how culture can cut across nationalities and faiths which enhance our pupils’ learning while promoting knowledge and understanding. This demonstrates how our school not only values and promotes cultural diversity but also supports all our pupils exploration and understanding of cultures that are not their own.

So, in conclusion to give children the best start in life and to reap the benefits of an evolved society, educational settings must ensure all children are given an equal opportunity to develop their own individual potential, learn not to discriminate against others and learn to value and actually enjoy the ways in which people are different from one another.

 

Question 1.4: Interact with children and young people in a way that values diversity and respects cultural, religious and ethnic differences assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 1.5: Demonstrate ways of applying the principles of equality, diversity and anti-discriminatory practice in own work with children and young people assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

 

My answers for the next set of questions in this final unit will follow…


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Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073) Part 4

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 10: Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Be able to evaluate own practice in relation to supporting literacy, numeracy and I.T.C.

Question 6.1:Evaluate how own knowledge, understanding and skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT impact on practice

I have a very good working relationship with the rest of the teaching and support team currently employed at the primary school that I am working in. We have a very good working relationship built on mutual trust and a good team work ethic. This has enabled me to become much more confident in my various roles; teaching assistant, 1:1 named pupil support and MDSA. Through performance management and self appraisal sessions, I have been able to evaluate how my own knowledge, understanding and skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT have impacted on the way I carry out my job.

Literacy

As I am already employed by a primary school, I have referred to the school’s aims when evaluating my own knowledge, understanding and skills in literacy.

The school’s aims for English are:

  • To develop skills of communication, including ICT and realise that these skills need to be taught and modelled;

  • To enable our children to speak clearly and audibly in a variety of contexts;

  • To encourage our children to listen with concentration in order to be able to identify the main points of what they have heard;

  • To develop confident, independent readers and promote a love of all kinds of texts.

  • To help children see themselves as valued writers and enable them to develop the skills to master all types of genre, modelling different forms of writing regularly;

  • To increase the children’s ability to use planning, drafting and editing to improve their work;

  • To help children develop critical ability, so as to reflect and comment on their own work and sensitively appreciate the work of others;

  • To teach children the skills of presentation, so that they can be proud of completed work;

  • To develop strong links with home, so that the promotion of literacy skills is seen as a partnership;

  • To help children understand the relevance of their developing skills and enrich their experience by inviting visitors and through live performances;

  • To ensure that children appreciate that communication is not easy for all individuals.

I like to think that my standard of English is quite high, I am a confident reader and can read aloud with expression; however, I have recently addressed my lack of understanding in some areas of literacy teaching. I found I didn’t understand what certain terms meant, such as how to construct a ‘complex’ sentence or what adverbials were, preposition phrases, noun phrases and subordinate clauses mean in other words I was unfamiliar with a lot of the terms used in teaching literacy in KS1/KS2. This lack of definitive knowledge meant that I was unable to support the learning activities as comprehensibly as usual.

I work with children from early years to year 6 so had to approach the literacy coordinator for some advice in this area. I realised I needed to boost my skills because I didn’t want my lack of knowledge to impact negatively on the children’s learning. Thankfully, we have very pro-active senior management team and because of our discussion, all TA’s in the school were offered workshops on phonics teaching, the new curriculum expectations and strategies to support literacy. As a result, my skills have improved in this area and I feel happier supporting children during their literacy sessions. I have found that this reinforcement also allows me to gain new insight, learn new terms and address my own use of language.

 

Numeracy

As I am already employed by a primary school, I have referred to the school’s aims when evaluating my own knowledge, understanding and skills in numeracy.

The school’s aims for numeracy are:

  • To develop a ‘can do’ attitude and perceive themselves as mathematicians

  • To grow in understanding of number, logic and spatial relationships, and learn to apply this knowledge in predicting, checking and solving real life everyday problems

  • To work, both mentally and when using informal and formal pencil and paper methods, with a range of strategies

  • To explain their ideas and methods to peers and adults alike, both in words and in a written form

  • To understand their strengths within the subject and choose appropriate challenges

  • To provide a nurturing and supportive environment in which children are able take risks in their learning and tackle challenges with increasing confidence and independence

  • For our children to use and understand mathematical language and recognise its importance as a language for communication and thinking

I am confident in my mathematical ability; I understand how to draw graphs and produce other styles of displaying information and believe I could help a child to achieve this as well. I understand the importance of visual aids in helping with the learning of numeracy and if a child was struggling with a task I believe I could break the task down in to easier simple tasks. I am confident with most mathematical language and normally find that what I am uncertain of is normally something I am aware of once I see it in use. I usually have a preferred method for remembering number facts but will try my best if having to show something in a way I personally may not use which, I feel, impacts positively on the way I carry out my job as it means that I can be flexible in my supportive role.

With regards to weaknesses, I do feel that my mental maths skills are not up to scratch. I also feel that, as with literacy, I have a lack of understanding in some areas of numeracy teaching. It wasn’t that I couldn’t reach an answer to a problem; it was more the case that the methods I knew were outdated, for example, the different methods of calculation such as the use of number lines, how to use the grid method and how to perform chunking. I felt that this had a negative impact on my ability to support pupils as I couldn’t offer the best level of support needed because I lacked confidence in this area. I was able to talk through certain mathematical topics with our numeracy coordinator which has given me a better understanding. Due to the differing ability levels of the children, most of the lessons came with a step by step teaching process which helped me a little too, cementing the various mathematical methods into my available strategies. I feel that the knowledge I have gained has been invaluable in supporting the children.

 

ICT

As above, I have referred to the school’s aims when evaluating my own knowledge, understanding and skills in I.C.T. which are:

Within a broad and balanced curriculum, at each Key Stage, our Computing curriculum builds on children’s experience of and ability to:

  • Develop computing capability in finding, selecting and using information;

  • Present, produce  and share information, including photos, video and audio;

  • Use the internet safely and responsibly and to understand the audience they publish for and to;

  • Use technology for effective and appropriate communication;

  • Use technology as a tool, applying computing skills and knowledge to their learning in other areas;

  • Organise, store, manipulate and retrieve data in a range of digital formats;

  • Write and test simple programs;

  • Select, use and combine a variety of software on a range of digital devices, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information;

  • Use computing skills to develop communication skills.

ICT is one area that I know is constantly changing as technology moves at, what feels like, lightening speed! I have found that my ability in ICT has improved over time; at first I was not confident in this area, however over the years I have taken the time to teach myself the skills to enable me to live (and work) effectively in this modern world. I am able to use computers, smart boards and other electronic devices, such as the photocopiers, laptops and tablets, competently and other teachers often come to me for help and advice. However, I don’t think that I use the devices to their full potential because I lack the knowledge to do so. If I am ever stuck on something in class, I sometimes ask the children to assist and they can usually help me solve the problem quite quickly. They find this very amusing but they also like to help! At home I refer to online forums or the software’s own help screens to solve any problems I have.

I can log on and off at both the school and home; I can open programs and save and retrieve work when and where necessary. Also I can use email which I often do to communicate with my family, friends, colleagues and tutor here at De Montfort College. As a parent and TA, I understand about health and safety related to using computers; not just thinking about unsafe wiring or cables but also computer ergonomics and e-safety etc. I know how to produce graphs, word documents, Power Point presentations, spreadsheets, etc. which means that I can help our pupils when they have ICT related tasks to complete if needed. I am able to solve problems related to I.C.T to a certain extent although can’t always understand the problem.

As a 1:1 support, I have been present at ICT lessons and have managed to learn how to operate many of the programs we use in school just by being in on the lesson. It has helped bring my ICT skills a bit more up to date and given me a more confidence in this area which means that I am able to support the children’s learning activities in a more effective way. I am currently teaching myself how to write my own programmes utilising the Scratch programme if I can grow my own programming knowledge and skills it will help me to be a better support for our pupils when they are tasked with these activities.

So, in conclusion, I believe that I have many strengths and the areas where my own knowledge, understanding and skills are good, the impact on my practice during literacy, numeracy and ICT lessons is positive and the support that I give to our pupils is effective, however, when my knowledge, understanding and skills are lacking the subsequent impact on my practice during those lessons become less effective and could potentially be damaging to our pupils’ educational development, which is why I tackle any lack of knowledge, understanding or skill as soon as I identify them, so that I can work on eradicating them.

 

Question 6.2: Develop a plan for improving own knowledge, understanding and skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT

I continually look critically at my practice and how it might be enhanced – I want to be the best learning support practitioner that I can be. As already mentioned above, as soon as I identify that I have a learning need, I quickly seek out advice and/or information about how I can improve.

Although the content of the curriculum hasn’t changed much, it has moved – a lot!

For example, within numeracy there is some new content for Upper Key Stage 2 but the major changes in expectation are within Year 1, Year 3 and Year4. Such as, the objective of knowing times tables – all children by Year 4 should now know their tables up to 12×12! This used to be the expectation for Year 6s. Another example is Year 1s are now expected to count in halves and quarters – this was a Year 2/3 expectation before.

I have used my own SMART personal development objectives to answer this question and develop a plan for improving my own knowledge, understanding and skills in literacy, numeracy and ICT.

  • Specific – I want to develop my knowledge and understanding of the new curriculum at primary school level for literacy, numeracy and I.C.T. This should impact on my practice in a positive way, improving my skills as a learning support practitioner.
  • Measureable – I will know that I have achieved this when I can confidently discuss the specifics to those inside or outside of the school environment.
  • Achievable – I will focus on one subject area at a time.
  • Realistic – I have already witnessed many lessons and know what my daughters had to learn, therefore I don’t feel this goal is unrealistic.
  • Time-bound – As I am still studying for this course, I will allow myself a half term for each subject, meaning that I will achieve my goals by Easter 2017.
What are my development objectives? What activities do I need to undertake to achieve my objectives? What support/resources do I need to achieve my objectives Target date for achieving my objectives Actual date of achieving my  objectives
Curriculum

Knowledge

Download curriculum Resources:

National Curriculum

   
–      Literacy BBC Bitesize online TES website 16/12/16  
–      Numeracy My Maths online School Aims 10/02/17  
–      ICT Staff meetings Use of ICT Suite 07/04/17  
Understanding how to teach Curriculum Q&A Teachers Support:

subject leaders

   
–      Literacy Phonic workshop Resources: 16/12/16  
–      Numeracy Numeracy workshop Lesson plans 10/02/17  
–      ICT Scratch programming Use of ICT Suite 07/04/17  
Review Date:   Signed:    

My answers for the questions in the next and final unit will follow…


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Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073) Part 3

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 10: Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Be able to observe and report on learner participation and progress.

Question 4.1: Apply skills and techniques for monitoring learners’ response to learning activities assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 4.2: Assess how well learners are participating in activities and the progress they are making assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 4.3: Record observations and assessments of learner participation and progress in the required format assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Learning Criteria: Be able to contribute to the evaluation of learning activities.

Question 5.1: Explain the importance of evaluating learning activities

As previously discussed throughout Assignment 9 “Support Assessment For Learning” evaluating learning activities is a vital part of the planning-teaching cycle for many reasons.

Evaluating a learning activity will determine whether it has been successful. In other words, if the aims and learning objectives have been met and how much the children have understood. It should be clear during the activity itself which pupils do not understand the concept and those who are able to explain it. This information can then be used by the teacher in his/her future planning to continue pupils’ development.

The information gathered helps teachers to assess pupils’ level of attainment against the key objectives for each year group and to compare work to national standards. As a school, this comparison highlights where our pupils’ stand in relation to their peers across the country and, by association, the standard of teaching in our school which can be used as a measure of competence.

Evaluation of an activity may also provide insight for the teacher, SENCO or other professionals as to whether an intervention is required for a particular pupil. For example, if a child is unable to organise a set of words alphabetically he/she may be dyslectic, in this case, appropriate strategies could be implemented to support the child’s development to enable him/her to access learning and achieve his/her potential.

By evaluating activities, individual learning styles can also be identified, this means that we continue to develop our understanding of what is successful and thus provide a learning experience which makes pupils’ want to join in and be enthusiastic about. For example, an activity is set up for a pupil, an obstacle course running around the playground; jumping and hopping, leaping and climbing. The child enthusiastically accesses the activity. However, another activity is set up for the same child – counting leaves that have been collected from around the playground. The child chooses not to access the counting activity and goes for a run around the playground instead; kicking leaves around and practising jumping on the hopscotch mat. So, when we evaluate these activities, we would recognise that Child X likes movement and is learning from being physically active – a counting activity with leaves is not interesting to him, however a counting activity with the hopscotch might well have the same intended learning outcome but would better meet his preferred learning style.

Evaluating an activity honestly will also provide information about the ability to deliver it or carry it out in practice; some things look great o paper but just don’t work in practice! It will also identify possible ways in which it might be modified or adapted to meet the individual needs of a particular pupil or group of pupils.

So, in conclusion, continually evaluating learning activities is an important part of teaching. Classes change annually, pupils’ develop continually but at differing speeds and their needs change throughout the year. It is by observing, listening and assessing how successful learning activities are, that we build up a picture about pupils’ learning needs, their preferred learning style and our teaching skills. Evaluating learning activities is a crucial component of teaching engaged by successful educational settings to ensure that their pupils access high quality learning which promotes academic success leading to the achievement their potential.

 

Question 5.2: Use the outcomes of observations and assessments to: assessed in the workplace

  1. provide feedback to learners on progress made

  2. provide the teacher with constructive feedback on the learning activities

  3. provide the teacher with feedback on learners’ participation and progress

  4. reflect on and improve own practice in supporting learning activities

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

 

My answers for the next set of questions in this unit will follow…


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Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073) Part 2

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 10: Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Be able to support learning activities.

Question 3.1: Select and demonstrate learning support strategies to meet the needs of learners assessed in the workplace

 

 

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 3.2: Explain how social organisation and relationships may affect the learning process

Within schools, children are put into groups so that their learning is appropriate for their age and level of understanding. The nationally agreed stages of education have already taken into consideration the usual SPICE development and expected milestones thus giving schools the curriculum of expected education. For example, in primary schools we have children aged 4 in our reception classes who are taught in accordance with the EYFS curriculum, pupils aged 5-7 years are taught KS1 appropriate material and KS2 material is taught to pupils aged 8-11 years. At the secondary school that my daughters both now attend, the pupils are also actively encouraged to join after school clubs, e.g. computer club, which help them to form relationships across the year groups.

As I have already discussed in previous assignments, children develop in different ways, which means that although Child A and Child B may be in the same academic year, their developmental progress may differ. For example, in a class of thirty children, some could be more mature while others might still be childish in their behaviour. Some will be able to finish their work quickly whilst others will still be fidgeting with their pencils. In our school, like other primary schools, the classes are further segregated into learner groups to promote development. For example, the class teacher in our Wilsford Class – which is a mixed Year 3 and Year 4 class – sit the pupils within four groups for numeracy and literacy lessons according to their ability and need for support.

Children working in groups build up a relationship and a group dynamic. Depending on the group this relationship can make them achieve more if they get on well or they will achieve less if the situation is the opposite. Pupils’ preferences for working with others, such as in group work or working on their own, may also affect learning. What this means in practice, is that some pupils need to interact with others in order to be motivated to learn and to understand the task, while others prefer to work independently and do not need to rely on discussion and such interactions. When discussing this with a teacher at our school, she said that one of the key considerations is that the composition of a group is conductive to each individual learner’s style, having said that, some pupils may find it difficult to focus solely on the task at hand when surrounded by their best friends and become easily distracted. For these reasons, it is important that the class teacher and learning support practitioner have some indication of the individual learner’s preferences by way of assessments and observations.

Group dynamics is a big part of the learning process, for example some children can be easily distracted which means that the learning process, for themselves as well as their classmates, will be affected too; such as, when a child prone to distraction joins a group, their inability to sustain focus may impede the other children’s focus on the task, which would keep all the others from doing their work. These pupils would work better in a smaller group with adult attention to keep them on task and at hand with continued encouragement to keep them focused.

Another example of group dynamics affecting the learning process in the classroom was when I witnessed a group of children of varying ability being put together during a topic lesson. This mix affected the learning process in a positive way by improving peer assessment and motivation as well as increasing their self confidence. Some children feel a great sense of achievement knowing they have helped another child.

Of course, the way that adults interact with pupils may also affect learning. The promotion of learning and raising of pupils’ achievements are more likely to occur if a positive professional relationship is established with them as already discussed in assignment 6 “Develop professional relationships with children, young people and adults”. To promote success, a purposeful and safe atmosphere with high expectations of successful outcomes needs to created and where pupils are encouraged to respect each other and cooperate well. Pupils are more likely to thrive educationally if they feel that they are all valued equally and are confident that they will be supported by adults.

Staff working with children in small groups or in whole class support must make sure all interactions with children give encouragement and praise, giving help when needed but not doing the work for the child. In my role a teaching assistant, I work to support children in small groups and on an individual basis. This could be inside the classroom, or outside of it. I ensure that I always respond to children’s questions in a way that is understandable to them and helpful without doing the work for them. I always give encouragement, praise and support to ensure children are always motivated to listen and learn. I try to get to know each child within my groups as quickly as possible so I can support them to the best of my ability and treat every child as an individual.

So, in conclusion, social organisations and relationships within the class support children to learn. If you group children together and work to support them they will start to develop a strong learning relationship with others their own age and with the adults within the setting. By addressing any issues that may affect the learning process we can gain the best learning potential and outcome for each child. When planning and delivering activities for the children to learn from, we need to make sure each is resourced accordingly and reflects their age and ability level, the environment in which they learn is safe and appropriate and that children are focused and engaged with the activity set. All of this can support them to have the best start in school to learn and develop.

 

Question 3.3: Give attention to learners in a way that balances the needs of individuals and the group as a whole assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 3.4: Demonstrate ways of encouraging learners to take responsibility for their own learning assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 3.5: Demonstrate ways of supporting learners to develop: assessed in the workplace

  1. literacy skills

  2. numeracy skills

  3. ICT skills

  4. problem solving skills

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 3.6: Explain the sorts of problems that might occur when supporting learning activities and how to deal with these:

The recognition of any difficulties that the pupil is facing and adapting the support that is provided to better suit his/her needs is an important element when supporting learning activities. Problems, barriers and hindrances may relate to:

  • social organisation and groupings
  • the learning activity may not suit the pupil’s preferred learning style
  • the learning environment e.g. space comfort, noise level, disruptions
  • the learning resources, e.g. quantity, quality, suitability or availability
  • the pupils’ ability to learn, e.g. attitude to learning, behaviour, self esteem, concentration.

As I have already discussed how social organisation and groupings affect learning when answering Question 3.2 “Explain how social organisation and relationships may affect the learning process” and some possible strategies to deal with the affects, I will move on to recognising issues relating to the learning activity being incongruous to the pupil’s preferred learning style.

A person’s learning style is a combination of how they process information, plan and solve problems. It is widely accepted that every individual has a particular preference for learning in a certain manner; I for instance, am an active learner meaning that I prefer to do something than just read about it, I learn more successfully through experience rather than theory. Most pupils respond to visual, auditory and kinaesthetic approaches, for example teaching and using the “look at the word, say the word, copy the word” approach to learning new spellings. Often pupils will have more than one preferred learning style while having a particular strength in one of these areas. Learning how to determine the learning styles of pupils can help strengthen rapport and knowing these different learning styles or preferences can help a teaching assistant to support pupils simply by presenting information in several different ways. For example, if a pupil is unable to grasp the concept of fractions, perhaps the use of pictorial cards or building blocks may help him/her to see what a fraction is.

The learning environment
The learning environment should be suitable for the needs of all pupils using it and the nature of those activities taking place, for example, it would be unsuitable to run a P.E. session in a classroom. The initial considerations for assessing the quality of any learning space are; good lighting, heating and ventilation; acoustics; access for pupils with disabilities and good decorative order. When I spoke to a teacher in our school she also said a learning space should have, “a sense of wellbeing which will enhance levels of pupils’ concentration”. The appropriate use of colour and visual displays is also a prerequisite for accessibility and an effective learning environment.

So, in practice having a suitable learning environment means that furniture may need to be moved to facilitate different pupil groupings. For instance, if children are working on an activity that requires a lot of space, such as painting, and there is not enough room for them to have access to the paint, brushes, water, etc. they may quickly lose their focus on the task which is likely to result in low level disruptions. To avoid this, it is essential to ensure there is enough room for them to access the equipment and carry out the activity. In this scenario, one possible strategy could be to have a separate painting area/table and divide the children into groups; one group of children paint, whilst the other carryout different activities relating to the topic.

The learning resources
The availability of suitable resources of the correct quantity and quality to support pupils’ learning is another potential cause for problems. Resources relating to learning activity could include such things as; pencils, paper, worksheets, maths apparatus, paint pots, paint brushes, etc. For instance, if the numeracy lesson included the completion of a fractions worksheet and there were not enough for each child, some pupils’ learning would be disrupted while more copies were made.

A way of preventing this from occurring is by resourcing all the equipment needed before the lesson and making sure you have enough to go around, however, in this scenario, a strategy to deal with the shortfall could be to share the worksheets and ask the children to write their answers on spare paper or in their numeracy books instead.

It is also important to check that the equipment to be used is safe and in good working order and that the adult is aware of how to use it safely.

The pupils’ ability to learn
The best planned lesson can still fail to deliver if the pupils’ don’t or can’t engage in the learning activities. The pupils’ ability to learn is reliant on a number of factors, their attitude to learning being one of them. In my daughters’ school, pupils’ attitude to learning is assessed by the teachers who make a judgement based on our daughters’ attitude in each subject:

  1. = Outstanding (her work at home and in class is absolutely exemplary)
  2. = Very Good (she works very hard in lessons and with homework consistently)
  3. = Good
  4. = Inconsistent (her approach to lessons and homework is variable)
  5. = Poor

The difficulty might be as a result of a disability or additional learning need such as; blindness/partially sighted, deafness/hard of hearing, any number of physical disabilities, medical conditions, learning difficulties, specific learning difficulties, mental health difficulties, autism/Asperger Syndrome, etc. if this is the case then appropriate resources and support is require.

Sometimes children with low self esteem may think that they are unable to complete the task and give up trying to do so. A strategy to deal with this is giving them lots of encouragement and praise for trying and making sure they understand what is asked of them.

Poor concentration leads to poor listening skills and difficulty in following instruction and can lead to boredom which usually results in low level disruptions. Being aware of how long children can concentrate on one task is the reason why the teaching staff adapt their planning to incorporate the different learning styles of children to keep their attention on the task. Utilising play opportunities as part of planned learning activities is a good strategy to deal with pupil concentration. They don’t think they are learning when “playing”. J

Dealing with disruptions

Classroom conditions must enable teachers to teach and pupils to learn; pupils cannot learn if they are distracted by their own or others’ behaviour. Any of the reasons that I have already mentioned above can cause disruptions during a learning activity but it can be the low-level disruptions such as chair rocking, humming, pen tapping or note passing that can have a high impact on the learning activity. I found a very interesting article about this very subject on The Guardian’s website written by Tracey Lawrence, a primary school teacher and a specialist leader in education (SLE) with a focus on behaviour and attendance.

  • Adjust the volume – With loud classes, avoid raising your voice. It only increases the noise. Lowering your voice can be much more effective. If the volume of your voice is always high, it loses its effect and doesn’t help to control the situation.

  • Move around – Your presence is extremely powerful. Don’t stay stagnant at the front of your class. Move around and don’t allow the children to become distracted. Talk to them about their task. Give them deadlines. For example say: “I’d love to see two more ideas by the time I come back as your ideas are really interesting.” Then walk and visit another child/pair but make sure you come back.

  • Shut out negativity – Don’t allow negativity to enter your classroom. If a child isn’t ready to come in, stop them and provide a distraction. Allow the child to calm down so that they can enter in a calmer frame of mind.

  • Be prepared – This one is a basic one but doesn’t always happen. Prepare your resources before you start teaching. It allows you to challenge the children’s energy as much as you can. Rustling papers and setting out resources while children wait only encourages low-level disruptions and sets the mood for the lesson.

  • It’s your classroom – Control your space. You are the decisive element in your classroom. Stand at the door as they enter. Talk, change moods. Say hello to the children regardless of whether you have their eye contact or not. Always say goodbye.

  • Keep calm – Have a calm outlook. If you can’t leave the room but are getting annoyed, flick through your assessing pupil progress (APP) sheets or walk away from the situation to calm yourself down before returning.

  • Don’t deviate from teaching – There is no need for an excessive response to low-level disruption. Don’t interrupt your teaching to deal with it. It can be corrected by including the child’s name into your explanation, a look or a signal of some sort.

  • Be positive – Deal with low-level disruptions by using positive language. “We sit in our chairs so that our handwriting is beautiful.” It doesn’t give the child the opportunity to opt out but also sets the expectation.

  • Share your expectations – Don’t assume children understand what your version of acceptable is. Tapping, shouting, and throwing could be acceptable at home. A child needs to have reinforcement of your expectations.

  • Have a routine – Having a routine in your classroom can help. Children can be uneasy when they do not know what is going to happen in the day. Children need to feel secure in their classroom and with their activities. They like to know what is coming up in their day so if things are going to change give them warning that something different will be happening and explain what to expect.

(Lawrence, T (2013), The Guardian, “10 ways to deal with low-level disruption in the classroom”, Online [available] https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/may/21/classroom-disruption-top-tips (31/10/2016)).

I have witnessed the teachers in our school using these strategies on many occasions and have found myself employing some of them too while supporting various learning activities.

 

 

My answers for the next set of questions in this unit will follow…


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Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073) Part 1

Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools

Unit 10: Support Learning Activities (A/601/4073)

This unit required me to carry out practical activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be posting the paperwork that I sent to my tutor within this post. I hope you understand.

Learning Criteria: Be able to use learning opportunities and reflective practice to contribute to personal development

Question 1.1: Explain how a learning support practitioner may contribute to the planning, delivery and review of learning activities:

To ensure that pupils make good progress towards their learning goals, teachers need to be able to plan a sequence of lessons designed to extend pupils’ knowledge, skills and understanding over a period of time; planning is a decision about what will be done, when, how and with which pupils. The Learning Support Practitioner or Teaching Assistant works directly under the class teacher, following their curriculum and directions. The TA does not only have to be fully briefed about the teacher’s educational intentions but also has to be involved in the planning and preparation of the learning activities so that they are aware what is going to happen in the classroom and can support the teacher’s work. Of course, the support the TA can give to the Teacher at the planning stage depends on their qualifications, expertise, experience, and job description and has to support the ethos of the school.

At our school, the learning support practitioner sometimes plays a vital role in contributing to the teacher’s planning process, as they have a closer working relationship with a particular pupil, a wider view of a pupil’s learning experience and relationships, more opportunities to observe a pupil closely across a range of teaching and learning situations, a good understanding of a particular pupil’s needs. A TA may have a history of supporting a particular pupil over a period of time that could give him/her a further understanding of a particular pupil’s needs, knowledge of a pupil’s family and home circumstances and potentially, a good knowledge of the pupil’s home culture too.

In other words, when working with the children, a learning support practitioner often sees first-hand how a child may need support in activities or if they are exceeding expectations. By being there and taking note during an activity, the TA is in the perfect position to be able to inform the teacher of the child’s progress, ability and needs, which in turn, assists the teacher in planning what adjustments need to be made to enable the pupil in question to achieve their learning goals or develop further. The TA can help the Teacher in planning and preparation with new ideas and learning strategies; the preparation of the learning materials, organising and managing the learning experiences.

It is also the duty of the TA in the planning and preparation stage to get the classroom ready for the specific learning activity (e.g., arrangement of desks, distribution of learning materials, etc.) and tidying up afterwards. If the TA has any concerns about the implementation of the planed learning activities they should share those with the Teacher. Problems can arise from the lack of appropriate learning materials, time restrictions, learning environment, the role or expertise of the TA.

Effective learning combines the utilisation of key and basic skills with discrete support, constructive feedback and encouragement of pupils to take responsibility in their own learning. When supporting learning activities, Teen Kamen lists four important points that every learning support practitioner should remember:

  • Develop an effective partnership with the class teacher.

  • Follow agreed class rules and class routines.

  • Understand the teaching methods for learning activities.

  • Provide effective support during learning activities.

(Kamen, T (2011) Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 3, Hodder Education, London).

In other words, for a TA to be an effective learning support practitioner, it is important that he/she has a clear understanding of the aims and objectives of the learning activities, their relation to the curriculum and the ethos of the school. Also they have to understand clearly their roles and duties in the delivery of learning activities and use appropriate materials and learning strategies previously agreed with the Teacher to promote a successful outcome. I feel that being given the opportunity to jointly discuss with the teacher beforehand, the main teaching points and the activities that are to be offered during the lesson, contribute to my effectiveness in supporting the delivery of the lesson. This could include offering suggestions regarding differentiating work, e.g. extension worksheets, etc. and how I can best support those pupils that I will be working with, e.g. the use of supportive resources, etc. what strategies I should use in order to promote pupils’ learning and therefore bring about a successful outcome.

The duration of the learning activities can be a part of a lesson, a single lesson or several consecutive lessons, and can be planned for individual pupils, groups of pupils or the whole class. During the delivery of the learning the teacher and the TA can share the workload between each other in different ways, according to previous planning and depending on experience and training. In our school, the most common arrangement is the TA helping out the teacher while they are dealing with the whole class, e.g. the TA can be assisting pupils in the use of equipment and ICT, supervising children’s behaviour and progress, helping out the less able pupils. If the TA has experience or training in dealing with SEN children, it can be their responsibility to deal with individuals or small groups with special needs while the Teacher is working with the whole class. Alternatively this situation can be turned around if it is the teacher who has the means to deal with the SEN children and the TA can be made responsible for teaching the rest of the class. So during a learning activity, the tasks of the TA may include: explaining points or words, repeating instructions of the teacher, reading stories or hearing children read, making notes for a pupil while the teacher is talking, checking pupils’ work helping to correct mistakes, guiding work on computer, helping to catch up on missed work, supervising and observing children’s practical work.

During these activities the TA should give their individual attention to pupils, be available for help and give support as needed, try and match individual needs to long-term learning goals. The TA has to take into consideration the way children learn and develop and the factors influencing learning, and immediately report any problems to the teacher. The learning materials used by the TA have to be suitable for the age, maturity and abilities of the pupils, and also address the individual learning needs. These materials have to be high quality, accessible, relevant, useful and simple to use, also interesting and challenging for the pupils. It is the TA’s responsibility to help pupils following instructions and keeping on task, for which they can use skills like questioning, active listening, prompting reticent pupils, explaining new words, modelling correct use of language, ensuring pupils follow the teacher’s instructions, helping them to use resources and using praise to reward good work. In order to keep pupils motivated, learning support practitioners should also be rewarding desirable behaviour with positive reinforcement while also discouraging negative attitudes. With the promotion of self-motivation and individual learning students are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning.

The TA’s role in the review of the pupils’ progress is also essential since they are present at all learning activities and are deeply involved in the pupils’ life in the school, not only by being part of the regular learning activities but also by being role models and mediating important values about confidence, self-esteem and acceptance to the children. The TA should be fully aware of what the learning objectives of the planned activities are and how their success can be measured so that they can contribute to the assessment of the quality of the experiences.

Monitoring pupil learning is essential because this way the lessons can be adjusted according to the children’s needs and become more effective; the knock on effect of building and maintaining a learner’s profile for each pupil is that we can provide more appropriate learning opportunities to the children. The TA can support the teacher by carrying out different types of observations in the classroom and provide information about how well the learning activities went, what was the pupils’ response and where they needed help. The feedback that a learning support practitioner provides to the class teacher is an essential element in reviewing the success of a learning activity. When the TA is giving feedback to the teacher they have to give a realistic and fair picture about the success of the learning activities according the evaluation measures they agreed on earlier in the planning phase. It is also among the responsibilities of the TA to collect information about the children from the parents / carers, to keep a record of each pupil, be aware of and report any problems. These records help the Teacher to see the development of each pupil throughout the term. By continually being part of the assessment and planning process, learning support practitioners can help teachers to review their planning accordingly.

 

Question 1.2: Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to supporting learning activities and how these may impact on the support that can be provided:

As I have already discussed within Assignment 8 – “Engage in personal development in health, social care or children’s and young people’s settings”, I understand what it means to be an effective learning support practitioner; the skills and knowledge needed for the role. Louise Burnham put it nicely in her book, The Teaching Assistant’s Handbook, when she says,

In primary schools, teachers and support staff need to work in many different subjects and situations and everyone has different areas of strength. You are not just teaching the subjects of the National or Foundation Stage Curriculum but also social skills, relating to others, being part of a school and so on. You are likely to feel more confident in some areas than others and this will subsequently impact on learning activities.”

(Burnham, L (2006) The Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Level 3, Heinemann Educational Publishers, London).

I understand that my strengths and weaknesses impact on the support that I can provide; my strengths impact in a positive way while my weaknesses will certainly have a detrimental effect.

I feel that my numeracy, language, ICT, problem solving, literacy knowledge and skills are above average, however, if I am asked to support a learning activity, I always ask my teacher before class commences if I am unsure of anything to rectify any issues so I can deliver my activity to the best of my knowledge. Teaching methods have changed a lot in the three decades since I attended primary school and so my lack of knowledge in this area had already lead me to seek out extra training from our school’s leaders in literacy and numeracy when I first joined the school. I feel that new curricular matter and methods are continually on my list of weaknesses, every time the Department of Education changes something, it is my duty to learn it and implement it.

If I did not understand a concept within in the learning activity that I was given to carry out and did not inform my teacher that I didn’t understand it, how could I fully support the children? My ignorance and lack of judgement would result in the children potentially not completing their work in the time given, contribute rather than reduce their lack of understanding and generally add to their confusion which, of course, would result in an unsatisfactory outcome and potentially cause those pupils to fall behind their expected levels.

Learning in small groups is advantageous in regards of developing communication, social and team work skills, but requires the teacher to take up the leader role and persuade the children to pay attention and follow the instructions. I have lead groups of up to 15 children with varying success, however, I feel that teaching the whole class of 30 pupils is beyond my capabilities at this time; I am still not confident in keeping discipline. I feel that I lack that authoritative edge that teachers seem to have and don’t feel I have the necessary knowledge to accomplish it successfully. My line manager is aware of my feelings on this and has promised to put my name forward when relevant courses, workshops and training arise.

I have worked with pupils who have SEN, specifically those with ASD, so I am confident that I can cope with children with behaviour problems and specific learning disabilities, however, as each child is different, I know that my existing knowledge and skills can always be built upon. Should I be requested to support a pupil, I will take the initiative to learn as much as I can about it and the best strategies to support him/her.

Keeping a record of children’s behaviour and progress is also a job that I never shrink away from, I like organising information and paying attention to details.

Preparing the classroom, creating my own resources or being asked to create specific teaching materials by the class teacher is not a problem for me; I am becoming quite resourceful in finding creative ways of supporting learners and confident with the use of computer, printer, photocopier, etc. I am also crafty when it comes to preparing handmade materials or creating displays. If I am short of ideas I just go on the Internet and browse for inspiration. I especially like playful activities when children can learn without noticing it. The simplest ideas like crossword puzzles or memory card games can provide a bit of fun and break the monotony of a lesson and they are easy to prepare with the help of free programs from the Internet.

So in conclusion I know that my strengths include; being positive, enthusiastic, willing to learn new skills, being approachable, contributing to planning, delivery and evaluation of learning activities, having good people skills, being punctual, listening, having good common sense and using it appropriately, contributing to the discipline of the school where needed and using my initiative to provide help and support where needed. I have the desire to improve on my weaknesses and recognise that the journey to improvement is never ending, there is always something new to learn be it knowledge of a skill.

 

Question 1.3: Use own knowledge of the learners and curriculum to contribute to the teacher’s planning assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 1.4: Offer constructive suggestions for own role in supporting planned learning activities assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 1.5: Identify and obtain the information required to support learning activities assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Learning Criteria: Be able to prepare for learning activities.

Question 2.1: Select and prepare the resources required for the planned learning activity assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 2.2: Develop and adapt resources to meet the needs of learners assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

Question 2.3: Ensure the learning environment meets relevant health, safety, security and access requirements assessed in the workplace

Witness Testimony sent to tutor.

 

My answers for the next set of questions in this unit will follow…