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New Year - Ready to Learn

04/01/18

 Lyn is the author of the first Protocol blog of the year and she shares her views on the Ready to Learn initiative. 

It is New Year and this week teachers will be banging at the school gates keen to start a new term. Many of them will not start classroom teaching immediately but will spend a day or two on whole school professional development being introduced to the latest wheezes that our masters have dreamt up.

We casual supply teachers don't get invited to these sessions and have to keep abreast of what is happening by reading and keeping our ears to the ground. So when, for example, I arrive at a new school and am informed that 'We are a Ready to Learn school ' I am not fazed, in fact I am delighted since Ready to Learn has been a fantastic initiative, a life saver for supply teachers. But why, oh why has it not been introduced consistently throughout our education system? Why do I have to plough through the pages of each school's Supply Teacher Handbook to discover which version of Ready to Learn I am supposed to be implementing? Some schools require a verbal warning of a constructive nature - 'You need to be R2L', then a written warning on the board, then a second written warning, then 'out'. Some ask for an initial warning then 'out' following just one further transgression. Other schools have other procedures somewhere in between. Then there are schools which allow supply teachers to log into SIMS and record the exclusion whilst those that need an email sent to the exclusion room which can be notoriously difficult given the endless variations of school IT systems. And while you are head down trying to puzzle all this out is the class behaving perfectly? Possibly not.

I was at a school recently which complicated things even further. As a supply teacher I am sometimes a little hesitant about issuing warnings not even knowing the names of students let alone their backgrounds. So when a couple of Year 10 boys were being a bit cocky, a bit chatty, in my PSHE cover (sigh) class I let it go. They were not applying themselves to the advantages and disadvantages of adult baptism but they were no real trouble and were not disrupting the lesson. Then, to my astonishment, at the end of the hour they produced report cards. I thought Ready to Learn had sounded the death knell of those dreadful coloured cards but no, I was required to tick whether the boys had been A1, A2, B1, B2 or B3. Unable to give them an 'A' seeing how little work they had done I then invited an unpleasant confrontation to the effect that I should have implemented R2L.

I am all for schools having some degree of autonomy but, if we are to have nationwide Ready to Learn, please let it be applied in a standard form.

Recent Comments
So I am registered as a Supply Teacher / Teaching Assistant work. On this particular job I was working in a secondary school as support to students who have learning or serious behavioural issues. Although I did classroom support, most of the time I worked with 2 male students. My pretend name for them is Jack & Peter. When I did classroom support for Jack he was very talkative and disruptive. Like with many young people he just wanted attention, he soon settled for negative attention. When he didn't get what he desired he was particularly nasty to a few girls. Which in turn made some of the boys verbally turn on him. That was a cycle. Even though my presence helped him a little to calm down...he had a lot of difficulty concentrating on the work. When I took him outside to cool off...he spent the whole time begging me to let him back in the classroom. Our 'one 2 ones' were more constructive but still difficult. He was scared of me because I threatened to call his father and to report that he was not ready to work in a classroom environment. Strangely he soon became attached and wanted to see me everyday, even though our working relationship was still challenging. He would often make completely rude and inappropriate comments to other children, teachers and to myself. With the exception of his father and the fear of doing 'one 2 ones' all the time...there really wasn't any way of controlling him. Yet saying all that sometimes he was very sweet and obliging. Sadly his behaviour resulted in him being extremely lonely at school. Peter on the other hand was reasonably popular and even has his own small cohort. During classroom support he would shout out comments or make illegible noises. Again all for attention. When he and I would talk privately he told me he couldn't help it. (He was diagnosed with ADHD). His behaviour in the class room often led me to remove him for a 'one 2 one'. However those lessons that were exciting and had a competitive element were the ones that he fully participated in. However one of our 'one 2 one' lessons he told me very calmly and politely that he wasn't doing any work and I was unable to persuade him otherwise. I read aloud to him whilst he went into the website of another secondary school, filled in the application to become a new student; sent them an email and told them he was ready to start now. I found him difficult and troubling, but charming.
Gerri, 14 January 2018
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