Intervention in the Sixth Form: creating quality time with students (Issue 8, January 2011)

Welcome back to the Muse blog and what we hope will be an invigorating restart for it!  Over the coming weeks and months we are going to be working in reverse chronological order uploading articles previous published in the hard copy of Muse before the next new edition comes out.  We hope this will give you some great new ideas and help you to understand the journey we’ve been on.  – Ed.

Intervention in the Sixth Form: creating quality time with students

If I had a pound for every time the phrase “there’s not enough time” has been mentioned in relation to post-16 study I would be a very rich man.

Now, whilst we have always been able to restructure schemes of learning in order to absorb time constraints and therefore deliver the required content, what has had to take a back seat is the quality time – the time for reflection and consolidation.

It has become increasingly clear that if we are going to raise standards it is imperative that we “create” this quality time. That’s where our intervention programme comes in.

Our intervention programme is new and therefore embryonic, but what I am going to share with you is where we are at with it at the moment and more specifically address the following questions:

1. How are interventions triggered?

2. Who manages/oversees the programme and how?

3. Who runs the interventions? How and when?

4. What do we perceive as being the

How are interventions triggered?

Roughly 15 milestone assessments are planned into our schemes of learning both in year 12 and year 13. These assessments are not just marked and fed back with comments in the usual manner but scrutinized carefully in order to identify specific weaknesses for specific students.

The teacher will not only record the mark and grade in their mark book but also a note as to what the key misconceptions were, if any, in the students’ script. Interventions have also happened as a result of problems with homework and particular lessons but these have been much less in number.

Who manages/ oversees the programme and how?

A small team of three oversee the programme; myself, Anne Grant and Graham Macphail, but Anne really runs the show. All requests for interventions are fed to Anne in the first instance and she enters the name of the student and what intervention is required into a central spreadsheet in the department’s shared area. This allows us to store a wealth of useful information; useful not least for writing reports or when speaking to parents. Anne will then Frogmail the students, asking them to come to speak to her to arrange an appointment.

Who runs the interventions? How and when?

Each member of the sixth form teaching team has a shared responsibility for staffing intervention sessions. We try to ensure that we do not run interventions for our own classes where possible, as we believe that a different teacher’s approach may be more likely to hit home if the initial teaching did not in the first instance.

The sessions could be run either in the student’s free period, after school, before school (with Graham) or at a break or lunch time. It is worth noting that the sessions are not frequent enough to massively affect workload (in our opinion) and the benefits for the students in terms of confidence seem to justify the extra time spent.

What do we perceive as being the next steps for the programme?

The next steps for the programme will be to use it to enhance our schemes of learning, and not just in the 6th form. If we can identify topics that students of a certain ability struggle with, we can really nail down what the misconceptions are. Then we can strengthen our schemes of learning all the way through the school, so that the issue is addressed at the appropriate time. This information will almost certainly inform what we cover as part of our bridging course too.

Andrew Sargeson

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