“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:3
Each child is precious and has different gifts. We need to try to discern this gifting so that it can be brought to fruition and pupils gain ability to know and function in their strengths. As pupils see their own progress and are encouraged in it they can be spurred on to excellence. Parents are the prime motivators, educators and prayer support of their children. They need information on school progress to enable them to function effectively in this role.
The largest part of assessment’s role in teaching is to focus the teaching on the needs of the pupil. Most of this assessment is informal observation of pupils’ work and the result of dialogue with them.
New topics and individual lessons are ideally started with some informal assessment of previous knowledge and review of previous work. This sort of discussion and review allows pupils to share knowledge and to reinforce previous work. Such assessment may highlight areas that have not been properly understood and allow the teacher to plan reinforcement.
Assessment will also allow the teacher to see the approaches that are successful and to develop their own teaching. The teacher should always be trying new approaches to develop their repertoire and reviewing the success of these to become more effective in their teaching.
Assessment should focus on class work but formal assessments complement this. This formal assessment should start for younger pupils with activities that are not intimidating, such a quizzes and worksheets. While continuing to use such “barely formal” methods pupils should gradually be introduced to larger more formal tests, so that by the time they are meeting end of year tests in the senior class this is not a big leap. It should, however, build on success in previous tests at growing levels of complexity.
Pupils should be encouraged to compare their progress against their own previous achievement rather than against other pupils. Pupils’ scores should be treated with discretion so they do not feel exposed on their weaknesses.
National tests in reading, writing and maths will be used at least annually, and there will be ongoing testing of memory verses, mental arithmetic for juniors and seniors, and spelling.
At times normal assessment will not have sufficient precision to identify particular needs of pupils and extra assessment will need to be designed to identify particular learning needs. Learning support teachers may be used, but it is also often possible to structure class work to include added assessment for a particular pupil.
Good recording enables monitoring of progress to spur on and reward pupils. It helps teaching to take account of individual differences and facilitates meaningful reporting.
Recording should be focused to have a specific aim. Records are only purposeful when they are made use of for planning or reporting. Methods of recording should be sought that are not cumbersome so as not to drain teaching time.
To achieve meaningful recording:
- Blank record sheets with pupils’ names will be produced. One blank copy should be kept as a master to make copies from.
- Divided A4 ring binders will be used for class records. Some of the things that may usefully be recorded are: mental arithmetic tests, spelling tests, progress through computer schemes, homework returned, games skills, memory verses, listening skills, speaking skills and project tests.
- Recording frequency should be planned for each record sheet.
- Clear criteria and recording codes should be used.
- Learning support forms have been produced. These should be used to make up a folder with a division for each pupil in the class. Learning support teachers should record all that they do with pupils.
- A separate folder of records for maths with a division for each pupil will be used to record progress and will include check up tests. Progress should be recorded at least weekly. Reinforcement should follow in areas showing need on the check up tests.
The basis of parent controlled education is that God has given the primary responsibility for educating children to their parents. The school exists as a place where parents can work together to see that calling effectively exercised through the school. Good home/school communication will enable parents to continue to exercise their role in bringing up their children. It will also enable the teachers to operate effectively in the delegated authority of the parents.
Responsibility for children’s behaviour is ultimately a parental one. Consequently the school expects unqualified support from parents in the maintenance of discipline. A letter regarding these issues is included as appendix 1 of this chapter.
Home to School
Teachers will be very pleased to have feedback on how the children are doing at school, the joys as well as the sorrows! Concerning the joys, it is good to know what has been appreciated and found helpful. As for the sorrows, the sooner these are tackled the better. The teachers will be very pleased to speak to parents on any matter which is affecting their children, but unless it is an emergency, not during normal teaching hours as this can interrupt the flow of work of the whole class. Parents should simply intimate to the teacher that they would like to talk something over and between them arrange a suitable time.
Matters which parents feel cannot be raised with the teachers themselves should be referred to one of the Governors. As a matter of principle, wherever there are a difficulties of any sort, parents should first and foremost make them a matter of prayer, and then to go through the channels outlined above and resist the temptation to discuss first with people not directly involved.
Effort and Application Record
On a regular basis an Effort and Application Record Sheet, as included in appendix 2 of this chapter, will be filled in for every pupil. This will be sent home to be signed, and may have a comment added if wished.
To make the system workable for busy teachers the gradings of the record are broad and somewhat subjective. For much of the time the record should serve to reassure parents of their children’s effective learning. When parents become concerned by the content of the record they should speak to the teacher to find out the precise nature of the problem. And when parents are looking to see an improvement in the record they should speak to the teacher to see what changes may have been happening that might be hidden by the broad categories of the record sheet.
Merits and Demerits
A merit will be given for things deserving special notice, such as work well done or a special act of kindness. This may be linked to the giving of stars, or some other reward. It may also be appropriate for parents to give some sort of reward at home.
A demerit will be given in circumstances outlined below, but before this a warning should be given, except in more extreme cases of indiscipline. The warning should be visibly noted such as a name written on the board, or a marker against their name on the class organiser list. The child should be required to return the signed demerit the next day.
Parents will be asked to sign against each demerit and to comment on it, either to say what they have done about it, or any information relating to it that they wish to pass on. Parents should be in contact with the teacher when their child receives a demerit, and should take some action to remedy the child’s behaviour.
The systems of the effort and application record and the merits and demerits are to enable communication, but they should not be the sum total of the communication.
Twice annually report cards will be sent home for all pupils. Parent evening will follow shortly after the distribution of reports.
Staff should aim to encourage pupils towards greater effort by reporting what pupils have achieved. This needs to be in terms that are meaningful to parents, both in what we choose to report and how the reports are worded.
As well as focusing on the positive there is also a time to report areas of failure in work or attitude. These issues should not be skirted round but clearly stated.
Informal conversations are often occasions when a lot of really valuable communication can take place. As well as contact in and around school, association meetings and prayer meetings are places where such communication can happen.
Home School Communication
Effort and Application Record And Merits and Demerits
The basis of parent controlled education is that God has given the primary responsibility for educating children to their parents. The school exists as a place where parents can work together to see that calling effectively exercised through the school. So as teachers we must endeavour to enable parents to continue to exercise that guidance in their children’s lives even though a large part of their educational upbringing is placed in our hands.
This can only be done through effective communication. We use two systems to enable communication. These are the effort and application record and the merit and demerit system. These are only an aid to communication, and not the whole thing.
To make the system workable for busy teachers the gradings of the record are broad and somewhat vague. For much of the time the record should serve to reassure you of you children’s effective learning. If and when you become concerned by the content of the record you should speak to the teacher to find out the precise nature of the problem. And when you are looking to see an improvement in the record you should speak to the teacher to see what changes may have been happening that might hidden by the broad categories of the record sheet.
The following comments may seem obvious but they are just some ideas on supporting your child.
“What can we do?”
- Don’t overlook the effectiveness of a quiet chat and encouragement to do better. This is usually the place to start.
Rewards have also been found very effective by many parents:
- It is best to look for small rewards that can be given often when seeking to change young children’s behaviour. It is amazing what children will do for a sticky star on a star chart, or a candle to light at their place at table, and the affirmation that goes with that.
- Older children are more able to look forward to a special treat, such as a visit to the ice-cream shop, or a larger reward. Parents do need to be careful in selecting something that can be offered promptly when success is achieved by the pupil and something that is not so important that they can bear to withhold it if success is not achieved.
- A listening ear is often very effective. Children not doing their best at school may have a reason that may seem trivial to us but seem important to them. It is important to learn when to help your child in problem solving or give them advice or when just to listen and give the child the security of being understood.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of prayer. So many problem can be solved with a simple word to our heavenly father. Often it is good to pray with our children about things that are affecting them.
- God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. There is a time to share scriptures that encourage and exhort us. It might be good to memorise a particular scripture with your child and refer to it often.
- There comes a time for discipline. It is usually when children seem to be failing to try to respond to encouragement or reward. It may be a small thing at first such as the warning of the removal of some privilege or treat, but whatever it is we must be true to our word. But be careful not to threaten things that you will not be prepared to carry through as soon as it is needed.
Merits and Demerits
Merits and demerits are worthy of stronger action. A merit should not pass without a word of encouragement. A merit may be rewarded by the teacher with some prize, but it might be appropriate to give one at home.
A demerit should result some action of correction by the parent. It should also be the occasion for some communication with the teacher, perhaps by a note alongside the signed demerit, or my a word to the teacher, but something.
EFFORT & APPLICATION RECORD Criteria
These criteria relate to Pupils’ effort and attitude and not to how well they are doing in subjects.
Causing concern: Shows all of: often loses attention and slow to start work and often distracts others and frequently distracted or persistently shows one or more of these.
Needs attention: Often shows some of: often loses attention, slow to start work, often distracts others and frequently distracted.
Satisfactory: Works diligently for the most part; starts work efficiently; seldom distracts others and is distracted infrequently.
Commended: May be commended for at least two of: starts work promptly; sustains attention to the task; does not distract others; does not allow self to be distracted; tries to make pertinent contributions to lessons.
Excellent: Shows all of the qualities to be commended to some degree and consistently exhibits most.
Causing concern: Is frequently resistant to correction; is rude and/or disregards others’ needs, or is consistently slow to respond to correction and usually lacks consideration.
Needs attention: Slow to respond to correction and/or sometimes lacks consideration for others.
Satisfactory: Responds to correction in a polite and obedient way; shows consideration for others.
Commended: Needs little correction and/or acts as a peacemaker, encourager and comforter.
Excellent: Needs little correction and acts as a peacemaker and encourager and comforter without need for prompting:
Causing concern: Any one or more of: Actively excludes others; frequently gets into arguments; does not try to resolve conflicts; is disrespectful to parents; often uses bad language.
Needs attention: Any one or more of: Often gets into arguments with others; is unable to resolve conflicts; lacks respect for parents; sometimes uses bad language; does not try to be involved with others.
Satisfactory: Infrequently gets into arguments; able to resolve them; shows consideration for others; is polite to parents and does not use bad language.
Commended: Behaves satisfactorily, plus some of: shares friendships, is a peacemaker, encourager, and comforter of others.
Excellent: Consistently behaves satisfactorily, shares friendships and is a peacemaker, and encourager, and comforter of others.