The children live close to each other, three on a pleasant estate, while two live in the flats nearby. All are near enough to the local park, so not only do they see each other at school, but they go to tea at each other’s houses, have sleepovers and regularly play together, in the park or in one another’s gardens. They are very good friends and call themselves the Park-School Gang.
They know each other really well, laugh often at everyone’s little habits. Amran can be very bossy. He’s very confident, goes regularly to museums and galleries, to the cinema and theatre. He lives in the biggest house on the estate; both parents work in law and they have the biggest garden and have a massive trampoline and a swimming pool, so summer evenings are often in Amran’s garden. Amran thinks his parents want him to go to a private school when they leave next year and he’s got a personal tutor to help with entrance exams.
Bridget, Caroline and Dhuha are in the middle of the class. They work on the same table, for most things, generally do the same work, but the difference is that, while Bridget gets things right most of the time, Caroline and Dhuha often make what the teacher calls silly mistakes and are made to do work twice or more. Even then Dhuha might still get the work wrong and get a “see me” comment. Dhuha spends quite a bit of time seeing the teacher.
In the end of year tests in years 1,2,3 and 4, the five children were in the same order; Amran, Bridget, Caroline, Dhuha and Edward, who is always last. It’s happened so often that they’ve just got used to that. Places in the class might shuffle a little, especially if someone new arrives, but the five are always in the same positions relative to each other.
Amran and Bridget sometimes get harder work than the others, while the teacher works with Caroline and Dhuha and the other middles. Edward is often working with Miss S, the class teaching assistant, getting a lot of help with his work, or doing something completely different outside the classroom, as Mrs R says that he gets distracted. He seems to miss a lot of the interesting lessons.
They have started to talk about Secondary schools, probably because Amran’s been talking about his tutor. Bridget, Caroline and Dhuha seem likely to go to the local Secondary school. It’s apparently quite good, according to older siblings and friends. The worry they have is with the setting, as they think they’ll be in different sets according to their test scores. They are all worried for Edward, mainly because they overheard Mrs R talking with Miss S and they were discussing “special school”. They know that Edward’s been spending time with a group of different grown-ups dong tests. They’d like to be able to help him in some way, but he switches off when they try to help with reading and writing.
But just suppose:-
- Edward meets a teacher who identifies his specific needs and adopt appropriate strategies, including concrete apparatus and physical, drawn and mental images, coupled with lots of talk, that enable him to make sense of subjects which have so far eluded him.
- Amran meets up with some characters who persuade him to move away from his comfortable existence into more dangerous situations.
- Bridget, Caroline and Dhuha all find subjects which really appeal, providing them with essential motivation and engagement with school, allowing their work ethic to grow and secure exam success.
The Amrans, Bridgets, Carolines, Dhuhas and Edwards will all still exist in classrooms. The implications of the expectation that 85% of the children will succeed at a level equal to the former level 4b in order to be “Secondary Ready”, will put the Dhuhas of the class under significant pressure. Whereas previously, Dhuha might transfer with a 3a/b, need a little extra help, possibly a summer revision camp, he may face the prospect of being called a failure, unless of course, he’s made appropriate progress from KS1 tests. Dhuha, who’s jogging along at the 14th centile, but, classed as a failure by some, he may well start demotivated, whereas a child in the 15th centile will be classed as a success as they have achieved as expected.
There will be a significant number of children, the lower third of ability, whose performance might lead to pressure from adults. Some of these children may have significant and possibly undiagnosed individual learning needs.
The Bridgets and Amrans will need to be stretched and challenged, with skills and knowledge drawn from subsequent year groups. As some of these are topic/content specific, there will be issues arising. So, instead of a class possibly spanning levels 1-6. We could have classes spanning years 1-7/8 in ability. The complexities are huge.
Concurrent SEN changes might cause Edward and his teachers prolonged problems, as the teacher is to become the front-line role in identification of and intervention to needs. Record keeping will be essential, so that detailed discussions with the school SENCo might result in further investigation, internally or by using an outside expert such as an Educational Psychologist. Edward might need one of the new Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP), but this might depend on the track record of identification, intervention and diagnostic engagement, as a case study, showing that his needs are extreme. Edward could find that he’s not quite poor enough to qualify for an EHCP, but remains in mainstream with his needs.
Amran will probably get to his private school easily, due to a combination of ability and the private tutor.