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Description Specifically designed for busy teachers who have responsibility for co-ordinating a subject area within their primary school. She is over-stretched and she knows it. Making plans to follow the progress of three children, she fails to have any contact with their work from September to halfway through November. In January she is making more plans:. I'm going to track a top, a middle and a bottom child attainment-wise, right throughout school so I'll look at three children, possibly meet them, look at any reading records that have been kept on them and just monitor three from each class, because obviously you can't monitor everybody.
I'm doing the same in writing and I'll ask for regular samples from those three children that will make it a lot more manageable. However, in art, for which Rachel is also the coordinator, she is aware of active steps that she has taken to find out what other classes are doing. Some of her knowledge is fortuitous because of proximity to other teachers.
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I have noticed in reception they have done symmetry on butterflies, I've noticed in class 1 they've been painting Elmo and colouring it and making different patches for Elmo in year 2. I knew that their topic was colour so they have done something, I've just done a lot on colour, the class next to me has just done a lot of weaving. And at the end of the year she has a system for checking what has been done without anyone feeling threatened. She collects the best art work in for display, taking work from each teacher.
She extends this to English, asking for photocopies of the work that gets commended at the Friday assembly. She also asks for other examples of work where she has a concern about what is being done, but she does it covertly and feels underhand as though she is spying on her colleagues. On one day a year, she is able to go round classrooms to observe, this year she chose to look at handwriting and used the time to construct a book which contained moderated examples of different levels for different ages of child. She is conscious of knowing a lot about what is going on in the school, but also conscious that she feels she cannot influence it very much.
I might walk past a display and think 'God, that's awful' or 'that's terribly mounted' or 'what skills have gone on in there? Rachel obviously feels some degree of powerlessness with her colleagues, which makes monitoring rather pointless. It is perhaps this feeling which made it possible for Lucy to do none. In all the interview with Rachel I can only find one instance of her reporting staff asking for guidance or of her offering guidance to others. The guidance that she offers is of little substance and it is clearly not one of the things that Rachel feels is part of her role.
This is, perhaps, because she has so many roles to fulfil. However, Lucy, in a stark reversal of the situation about monitoring, makes many references to occasions when she counsels teachers and non-teaching staff in the school. She has bought herself more time and only coordinates the one subject. She both makes suggestions herself and arranges to respond to requests from others when she can.
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The other teachers clearly feel that it is worth approaching her. She spends a great deal of time, running group sessions, and responding to individual need, at the request and at the convenience of other staff. Sometimes this conflicts with her own class teaching:. This lunchtime, I went into the staff room and two teachers simultaneously said "Linda we need to see you". And I just said "Look with the best will in the world I really want to help, and I will, but at the moment I just need to get my class off the ground.
Often the only time the head or maybe a member of staff whose children are afternoon break, can talk to me is when I'm teaching. Even though I'm here every night. Because everybody seems to want to speak to me about the things with the Literacy Hour. She records spending time analysing the types of adverbs on her way to the toilet at the midday break with two other teachers. If staff will not come to her she makes time to go to see them when they are free. And the newly qualified teacher gets special care:.
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Each evening I see the NQT about the next day's literacy lesson with it being such a new initiative and they're having so much to take on with everything else in the school she suggests following me a day behind and in way it is helping her. She feels that staff need more help than they are getting because there is not time for meeting.
As Rachel herself says:. Even though I make myself available, they are reluctant to ask me as much as I know they would like to for help, because they just see how busy I am with it. I wish I could do a clinic because I know they would then say "will you just go over auxiliary verbs with me? A common finding is the need for broad skills of people management which go far beyond advisory teachers' subject expertise or even their role as exemplary class teachers p.
It is clear that neither Lucy nor Rachel have any specific training that prepares them for overseeing the work of other teachers and then discussing it with them. The same difficulties apply to the task of training them, often in a "cascade" model. It is possible that many subject coordinators have not had to conduct training days for their colleagues before, it is different from teaching children and may cause anxiety.
Conducting training days is something which external advisory teachers were recruited to do and this is one of the role models which the Teacher Training Agency used in its construction of what a primary subject leader should be doing. However, there has been not training for the cascade model of continuing professional development associated with the literacy hour. Not only that, but the materials provided needed preparation and copying. Lucy spent many hours preparing her training session for her peers. I think I tend to go over the top. I want everything [to be] just so I did spend a long time on it and even things I had read before twice I was reading again the night before for that training day.
Of course, this all affects your class teaching. Well, we get the booklet, and what I tend to do is read the booklet during half term, but I spent the evening before looking at the video and going through the training part at home.
I find the training pack so complicated I always do it the night before so it's fresh in my mind. What has been created here is a situation where unconfident literacy coordinators are trying to train unconfident teachers. Lucy tries to satisfy her colleagues' needs and this involves running many training sessions for different groups at times convenient to her colleagues. This is during a time when union action is discouraging teachers from attending meetings which are not seen to be necessary. Meetings, therefore, are only held when there is a need and at times which staff feel do not constitute meetings.
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In view of Lucy's determination not to work on Sundays, to the extent of choosing to be paid for a four day week, it is surprising to find that she still is doing so:. On Sunday, preparation for the training day, 4 hours 15 minutes, and after that I did 1 hour's marking. Rachel inevitably has different approach, for a start, she teaches five days a week instead of Lucy's four.
She thinks the training days allocated are not adequate and has taken all five training days for the literacy hour at the expense of other pressing competition. She feels that art misses out because of this:. We were going to move onto printing and clay next term but that had to be scratched because we didn't have enough training days. Every staff member from now until after Christmas is occupied with literacy hour, so you haven't the time to train people and you're not going to really improve your standards but you have to prioritize and at the moment Art is on the back burners.
It is clear from Rachel's account that some training for literacy hour is taking place every week and that she has to prepare this. She thinks that most primary teachers are not trained in art sufficiently to deliver good lessons without INSET, but they cannot get the INSET now because the literacy hour is using it all. Rachel's training sessions are well attended, there are no forces of conservatism here refusing to update skills, the school meals assistants SMAs are eager to learn about the literacy hour:.
So I said I would be available for twilight on Monday evening and about 11 came, including a few of the SMAs which is wonderful. Obviously we can't insist that they come. Initially, the spending of money occupies the mind of Lucy and she is cautious about spending the money allocated for the literacy hour.
The problems of buying new resources without knowing enough to make wise choices brings ethical dilemmas about how much she is allowed to photocopy. There is a stark contrast between the standard of the Government issued materials and the provision in the school. This is illustrated by her comment:. One of the things about the training materials they are very smartly presented, beautifully done, the overheads and everything.
I mean we don't happen to have an overhead projector which is working at the moment. But I didn't find that too much of a problem, but it still involves hours of work. Clearly, it is preferable for a school to have one OHP in each room and in a way the provision of a few creates more problems than having none.
Lucy's problems mounted when two new ones were bought because she had to consider the movement and allocation of them throughout the literacy hour. In contrast, Rachel does not discuss the purchase of any resources but describes sorting and allocating them, her interviews were later in the year and spending decisions had been taken earlier, perhaps with less caution than Lucy showed.
Related Coordinating Art Across the Primary School (Subject Leaders Handbooks)
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