Fake Headteacher: Learning slips – Newsletter No.13

Dear Staff,

I trust you had an enjoyable summer break. I am re-sending this newsletter as many of you did not receive it? I did check my ‘sent box’ and it was definitely posted on the 14th August. Perhaps the server wasn’t working that week because nobody replied. 

I would like to reiterate how important it is to type, print, trim and stick learning slips into pupils’ books. I realise this takes up a lot of your time (especially if you are doing them for several lessons a day). But, with ofsted just around the corner, we need to prove that staff and children have a good understanding of what they are teaching and learning.

Can you imagine a child writing a learning objective but an ofsted inspector was not able to read it clearly. That would be disastrous. That would prove that the pupil did not know what they were learning. It would suggest that the lesson was a complete shambles. A beautifully typed up leaning slip will prevent such misconceptions.

It’s a complete waste of time asking children to write the learning objective and date in their book. That’s 2-3 minutes of every lesson wasted. 

It’s not as if they would actually start to learn what a title is or even how to use a ruler properly. It’s not as though you could use this time to reinforce handwriting patterns as they write it. It’s not as though you could ask them to write the learning objective straight away as a way of settling the class quickly and quietly. It’s not as though it would help children take more ownership of their work. 

I understand that some of you are concerned with the amount of paper we are getting through each week. A school in the locality are now using stickers to print learning objectives on. I love the idea but it’s costing them a small fortune. I am more than happy that we get through 5 reams of paper each week just printing learning objectives. Although, I am nervously waiting for the Eco Warriors club to spot the waste. So far so good!

Because you are spending so much time typing up the learning slips, I have noticed how fancy they are becoming. Sometimes, they are longer than the work the children produce with many ‘I can…’ statements to prove to ofsted the teacher knew what to teach. Some slips I saw last term had fancy smiley faces on too so the children could colour in the one that best depicted how they felt about their learning. I love it!

I assume the teacher takes into account what colour face the child draws when they are marking? Do you use a special mark book?  Make sure you allow plenty of time for children to do this at the end of the lesson. Don’t worry about a plenary anymore. Perhaps many of you don’t require coloured faces because you already know within the lesson who is struggling or cruising and intervene appropriately?

Some slips I have seen, have room for peer review comments. Genius. The longer the learning slip, the better. I love peer review comments. In fact, I am thinking of asking you all to read each others class reports and provide written feedback to each other. Imagine how that would make you feel. This must be how some children feel? (Especially when they are working in random pairs).

I had a frank conversation with a member of staff last term after she claimed learning slips are the bane of her life as they have a huge impact on her workload. She said it was all for show and that the teachers were quite capable of sharing success criteria and learning objectives during the lesson. She added that a simple title could be written by the child very quickly rather than the teacher producing learning slips; time saved that could be spent preparing lessons. She said instead of the teacher typing up…

“I am learning what adverbial phrases are and how to use them at the beginning of a sentence to create interest.” (with a long list of success criteria etc.)

The child independently writes…

“Adverbial Phrases”  (they don’t even write ‘LO’ as it is assumed they are learning this!)

But how would ofsted know the finer details of learning that took place? 

Our colleague argued that the children knew exactly how and why they were learning about adverbial phrases. She said this is why we use working walls; to put up success criteria and toolkits as you go. 

Apparently, she claimed that it is perfectly clear what the children are doing in their books without a long learning slip to prove it. “If you don’t know they have written an introduction for a recipe with the title ‘Recipe Introduction’ then you need your eyes tested,” she continued.

I have now put her on capabilities.

When an ofsted inspector sits next to a pupil and asks the dreaded question, ‘What are you learning about?’ the child will not be able to answer if a learning slip has not been typed up and printed. Our colleague clearly didn’t understand this. The pupil will freeze and not be able to tell them. This is why I insist on learning slips being used. In fact, I encourage children to regurgitate the exact wording on the slips (in a proud Hermione Granger manner) to prove what they are learning.

No. I am sorry but lengthy learning slips that take up so much of your time each week to produce, are here to stay. We have all got to show how we are impacting on learning and this is one sure way of doing it. It’s all about the books people.

See you all on Monday.

Fake Headteacher

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PS. My friend who is the headteacher at the local academy school, insists they produce 3 differentiated learning slips for every lesson. Perhaps next term?

 

 

 

 

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