As Subject Leader for a core subject (Science) and a relatively big department (10 members of teaching staff) it often seems an impossible task to know what is going on in every corner of my department.
Following the exam results analysis in September, I also realised that as a department we needed to communicate with parents more, and earlier when students were not meeting our expectations.
So, it seemed clear to me that we needed a clear strategy for dealing with concerns and when to contact parents and I needed a simple way of keeping a handle on what was happening across the department. I introduced the following steps to give a structure to our approach when addressing concerns with behaviour, attitude to learning and progress:
- Teacher conversation with student
- Teacher conversation with parent
- Subject leader conversation with student
- Subject leader conversation with parent
- Subject leader passes concern to Year Team Leader
Ok, so it’s not rocket science! It’s a very simple set of steps but the impact of having this structure in place has been very interesting. Far more emails and phone calls have taken place and issues are dealt with quickly.
We also have a fortnightly information request under the heading “Students Causing Concern” whereby I ask for a simple summary of any students (not just Year 11) causing concern and staff are asked to indicate the steps (from the list) that they have completed so far. This means I get a regular overview of the students who are not performing/behaving/learning as expected and I can identify when an issue needs to be picked up by me as indicated by step 3.
What has also been interesting is that I have not been required to speak to a student because of step 3 being reached. We also have not seen more than 2-3 students appearing on more than one “Students Causing Concern” request.
Feedback from my department has been valuable. They say that this makes them think carefully about what THEY have done before passing something on to me and it helps them to sift out those issues that are a real concern versus those that are just an annoyance.
Having shared our approach with my middle leader colleagues and seeing how positively it was received I thought it was worth sharing here as it may provide some simple ideas for you and your department. For me, it is a definitive thing that we are doing differently, with every hope that it could help improve student outcomes for many years to come.