Assessment can be employed to improve one’s

Assessment Task 1

1.4 Evaluate all aspects of own practice.

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Reflecting upon own practice is a skill-set to be developed by everyone to equip themselves to improve own performance and contribute to improving the practice of the team. It helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses and devise the ways to improve. In a school setting, there are various ways which can be employed to improve one’s own practice. These include:

        i.            Analysing children’s responses to activities: Support staff regularly interact with children and support them in their activities. Hence, it is important that children’s responses are accounted for to evaluate and improve one’s practice in this area. This can be done in two ways: Self-recording children’s responses or asking children about their opinion. Self-recording can be done during the activities by noting various aspects like children’s reaction, participation level, understanding and instruction following and most importantly the happiness with their achievement at the end of the activity. The honest opinions of children can be obtained by asking them how they felt about the activity and if there is anything that they would like to improve or add or didn’t like about it. When consulted about their views and feedback, children feel happy and valued and might suggest some key areas for improvement as well.

I engage with one to one reading with pupils who need additional help with their reading. When I read with them, some  are very excited to read with me and even request to read a little longer than the specified time. I try making reading interesting and I think that is reflected by their eagerness to read with me. However, there is one pupil who is not interested to read and always finds a reason not to read but gets along very well when we start to read. I think I have to devise some way to inspire her more. In addition to 1:1 reading with a specific group, I support children during the independent activities and sometimes they come to me to show what they have done and also request to read with them even when they are not in the reading group of students. On one occasion, one of the children whom I support for reading called out for me during the class when he was trying to read, showing that he believed that I could help him out. This response shows that the pupils like the way I carry out the activities with them.

      ii.            Constructive feedback from the colleagues: Constructive feedback from the colleagues is essential to improve one’s practice as they would be able to find not only the plus points but they are the best people to suggest the areas of improvement as well. Since they are the people who share the same profession, they might have wide experience and knowledge and the feedback they give could help to enrich one’s own practices and do things differently and efficiently in future. However, it is very important to be open to the honest feedback and not to let it affect one’s self-esteem and confidence. Taking the criticism positively and adopting new approaches and recommendations would maximise one’s expertise and help to support children in a better way.

There have been occasions when the teacher has told me that I carried out the activities allocated to me as expected. At other occasions, I ask the teacher to suggest how a task could be carried out, ensuring that I use her expertise to carry out the task.

    iii.            Feedback from other relevant people: Feedback can also be obtained from other adults who might have observed us working with children formally or informally or would have come to know of our practices from children or other people or who might have interacted with us to meet the needs of the children. This includes parents and carers, head-teacher or other staff working in the school, external professionals working in partnership with schools e.g. to meet the special needs and disabilities of children, etc. Encouraging honest feedback and accepting the recommendations and suggestions helps to improve performance, build upon the strengths and improve the shortcomings.

I supported Year 4 pupils with one to one Maths help and one of the pupil’s carers told me that the child was telling her about how I challenged her to difficult problems and that she liked doing maths with me. One time, the head teacher told me that the Year 1 and Year 4 teachers appreciated my help in the class.

    iv.            Self-analysis: Self-evaluation is the key to improve one’s practice as we are the best judge of our own performance. After completing an activity with children, it is important to evaluate the experience to identify the high and the low points and the ways to improve. The experience includes the provider (support assistant) and the recipients. From the provider’s perspective, it is important to reflect upon the safety of the resources and environment, suitability of the resources used, awareness about own role and the learning objective, support provided to the children during the activity, any difficulty in carrying out the activity, anything that could make the experience better, need of extra support, etc. From the children’s perspective, it is important to consider whether the children were engaged, showed interested, participated well and found it challenging.

At the end of every day at school, I reflect on my performance at school. In the beginning, I realised that I needed to attend the phonics and maths lessons to get acquainted with the current teaching practices and I discussed the same with the class teacher. Both of us then agreed to change my placement day to a suitable day so that I can observe maths and phonics teaching.

I think that it is important to act on the feedback gathered from all the sources and develop and follow a learning plan aimed at improving own practice.

2.2. Describe the importance of continuing professional development.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an ongoing process and ensures that one continues to be competent, innovative and effective in the profession and has an updated knowledge and skills. Especially with the legislation changes, it is important that the staff remains updated so that the pupils are supported in the best possible way.

The importance of CPD at schools can be recognised from the fact that it is a major factor that determines the outcome of the students. In a school setting, CPD ensures that children have the best learning experience and achieve their maximum potential and involves enriching the staff skills based on their needs and the needs of children.

Regular supervision and one to one discussion with the class teacher help to identify the opportunities that can contribute to the professional development. Annual appraisals are another way to review the past performance, set the future targets and identify the ways to achieve them. CPD can be achieved in several ways, such as:

·         training courses aiming at the health and safety of children and young people like first aid, food handling or safeguarding children.

·         training courses, e-learning, distance learning, lectures, workshops and conferences that aim to improve the other aspects related to supporting children and young people, such as, specific subject related training and teaching techniques.

·         shadowing a colleague: this helps to identify the strategies and understand the role from an experienced person.

·         qualification programs: Formal qualifications obtained from the recognized providers equip with the required skills.

·         research: The Internet and books are a great way to keep one updated on one’s practice and new trends.

As CPD provides opportunities to get access to various structured learning programs, it makes professionals more effective and contributes to their career development. It also enhances confidence and motivation and helps them to demonstrate professionalism in the workplace. CPD serves to benefit the professionals and the children equally and hence all the staff should strive towards CPD to ensure a promising future for themselves and the children.

3.1. Describe why team-work is important in schools.

An old saying “Two heads are better than one” underpins the significance of teamwork. Teamwork creates synergy and is a glue that keeps the team together and an oil that keeps the team working. In the context of schools, it is essential as it helps to achieve the best outcomes for the staff and the students. The benefits of teamwork include:

        i.            Builds trust and strengthens relationships: In a team, people rely on each other and this builds trust and fosters strong relationships with the teammates. Trusting each other reduces the insecurity and helps people to appreciate and believe in the distinct abilities of each other. It enables mutual support and develops a sense of belonging, which contribute greatly to the job satisfaction. A cohesive group in a school would work towards the welfare of children effectively.

      ii.            Shares the tasks and promotes ownership: Teaching is indeed a stressful job, but when the staff works as a team, it eases the pressures and reduces the stress. As the strengths and weaknesses of each other are known in a team, the work is divided appropriately so that it is done by the most proficient member and thus the work gets done efficiently and effectively. Sharing the workload helps to reduce the individual errors and promotes the ownership of a job. Everyone is engaged and feels proud to contribute.

    iii.            Enhanced communication: Teamwork facilitates clear and effective communication which allows everyone to be aware of their role in a job. Moreover, communication is the key to avoid any conflicts and misunderstandings in a team.

    iv.            Shares strengths and expertise and helps solve issues: When the staff works as a team, they can build on each other’s strengths. Each staff member has a different set of knowledge, experiences and ability and when they share them with each other, it not only adds to the experience of the team but results in better teaching outcomes for children. Teamwork helps to identify and resolve any issues that may be beyond the scope of any one individual.

      v.            Promotes creativity and learning: Creativity and learning are fundamental to any profession but in schools, these are very important to provide the best learning opportunities for the pupils from different backgrounds and with different abilities. Teamwork brings people together from different backgrounds and levels of experience that serves as an opportunity for professional development and learning.

    vi.            Serves as a good role model: Teamwork is an important skill to be developed by the pupils, and they are always encouraged to show that in their activities and games. However, modelling teamwork by the teachers is a great way to imbibe the spirit of teamwork in children. When they see how their teachers work as a team together, they are more likely to implement it in their own practices.

  vii.            Supports high-quality care and education: Teamwork ensures that high standards of care and quality education is offered to the children in school.

The synergy of individuals is powerful, and teamwork is vital to the success of the staff and the students and should be modelled to make the schools a great place to work and to learn.

3.2. Describe the purpose and objectives of the team in which they work.

Since I support Year 1 students in the school, I consider myself to be a part of Year 1 team that includes two class teachers, two teaching assistants and the Key Stage 1 coordinator in particular. The purpose of this team is to provide the Year 1 students with the high-quality learning experience so that the children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The objectives of the team include ensuring a consistent, broad, balanced, meaningful and creative subject teaching according to the National curriculum and creating a motivating and safe teaching environment to inspire children to succeed and excel. The team also believes in involving parents as co-educators by encouraging them to participate in children’s learning, e.g. monitoring their homework, reading with them and sharing children’s achievements outside the classroom. This team maintains an effective communication between school and home to keep the parents informed of school events. The basic skills of reading, writing, numeracy and oral communication are emphasised to ensure that the children meet the target expectations. The school has a set of six values-responsibility, resilience, reflection, respect, resourcefulness and relationships and the team ensures to promote these values in children. The team believes in celebrating diversity and achievement of the pupils, acknowledging their individual strengths.

3.3. Describe own role and responsibilities and those of others in the team.

The school comprises of a team of individuals who have different roles and responsibilities and who aim to work together to provide a rewarding experience for the pupils. The team members in a school should demonstrate a high level of drive and ambition in their individual roles for the successful working of a school. The roles and responsibilities of the various team members in a school are described below.

        i.            My own: I am in a placement in a school and work with Year 1 pupils one day a week under the guidance of a teacher. I support five children who struggle with reading. These children are at different reading levels, and I choose books for their level every week, read with them one to one, record their performance in the reading records and provide feedback to the teacher. I also support the classroom lessons during the day that include phonics, English, Maths and art and craft. I support children who need help to finish a particular task while the teacher is engaged with a focus group. I also sometimes help in keeping the children’s books up to date and support the teacher in the general management of the class and the pupils, preparing for the lesson and clearing up later.

      ii.            Headteacher: The head teacher is responsible for the education of the children and management of the staff in the school. She is also responsible for framing the school policies and promoting the safeguarding and welfare of children in school. She is the designated child protection officer in the school.

    iii.            Deputy headteacher: The deputy head teacher is responsible for managing the school in the absence of the headteacher. She is the Foundation Stage 1 and Key Stage 1 leader (early years coordinator-leading the staff of this unit and is responsible for the overall welfare of children in this year group) and is also the class teacher for Year 2.

    iv.            Teachers: The class teachers are responsible for the planning, preparation and delivering the lessons to their respective classes. The teachers also assess children’s work, complete their development reports, conduct parent meetings and have playground duties at times. One of the teachers is also designated as a Key Stage 2 leader and is responsible for the overall responsibility of the Key Stage 2 pupils and leads the staff of this unit.

      v.            Inclusion coordinator: The inclusion officer is responsible for tracking all the vulnerable children in school and ensuring that systems and procedures are in place to support an early intervention.

    vi.            Teaching assistants: Teaching assistants support the teachers in the classroom, help them to plan for the lessons and clearing after the lesson. They are also responsible to support each pupil or a group of pupils that need additional help, while the teacher is engaged with the class. There is a high-level teaching assistant who is a PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) cover for all the classes and is responsible to teach the subjects that the class teachers are not trained to teach e.g. languages. She is the specialist staff required to meet the requirements of the National Curriculum.

  vii.            Administrative staff: The administrative staff includes an office administrator officer and office manager who are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the records, providing administrative support to the teachers and organising the newsletters. The office manager is also responsible for the financial management and health and safety within the school.

viii.            Welfare and pupil support staff: Lunchtime supervisory assistants are responsible for the safety and well-being of children during lunchtime in the kitchen and in the playground.

    ix.            Caretaker/Building supervisor: The responsibilities include supervising and participating in the maintenance of buildings, grounds and mechanical equipment, etc. and enforcing building and safety regulations. He is also responsible for opening up the school.

      x.            Domestic staff: The staff consists of cleaners who are responsible to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene in the school. Some of the cleaners also have a shared responsibility of a lunchtime supervisor.

    xi.            Kitchen staff: The kitchen staff in the school is employed by the contractors and includes a cook supervisor, assistant cook and kitchen assistants. The assistant cook and cook supervisors are responsible for the preparation of food and ensuring that the healthy meals are provided to all the children. The kitchen staff are responsible for serving the food and keeping the kitchen clean and tidy.

3.4. Describe the importance of respecting the skills and expertise of other practitioners.

A school has staff with different backgrounds, skills, expertise, knowledge and levels of experience. This serves as a great opportunity to learn from others knowledge and develop own capabilities. However, that is possible only if the skills and expertise of other practitioners are respected and appreciated. Recognizing others experiences motivates them to share more constructively, contributing to professional development and learning.

Valuing others opinions and views also builds trust and fosters strong relationships with the teammates. It reduces the insecurity and helps people to appreciate and believe in the distinct abilities of each other. This enables mutual support and develops a sense of belonging and creates a conducive atmosphere to share and learn that not only adds to the experience of the team but results in better teaching outcomes for children. The learning from others unique experiences also helps to identify and resolve any issues that may be beyond the scope of any one individual.

Respect for other practitioners should be demonstrated by treating them with courtesy, encouraging them to share their opinions, listen to their ideas before expressing own viewpoint and use their ideas to improve work and let them know about it. Such actions help to make an understanding courteous and professional workplace, benefitting everyone.

4.5. Identify and suggest ways in which the team could improve its work, challenging existing practice where necessary.

The team I work with puts in a great effort in providing the best learning experience to the children. The teachers try a number of creative ways to cater to the children of all calibres. I have learnt a lot from the team and appreciate their creativity and efforts. There is not any particular area that I think the team needs to improve in. However, in some instances, I suggested some extra resources that could be used to support the learning of the pupils. For instance, I felt that the children were very curious to know about how astronauts lived in space and suggested to show a TV program (relevant to their age) that I had seen to the pupils. On another occasion, I had suggested a different seasons storybook (that I had read) to share with the children as a part of their learning of various seasons. I had also suggested another storybook that went with the theme of learning parts of the plant. As I celebrate Diwali (a Hindu festival), I also suggested new activities for children when they were learning about it at school. I think the team appreciated my suggestions on these occasions and adopted them when suitable.