When I was looking at the effectiveness of interventions being led by Teaching Assistants at the start of my first Headship, it seemed that a huge amount of effort and time was being invested for little tangible reward.
Under huge pressure to improve outcomes – the school was in the bottom 10% of all schools nationally – staff were being encouraged by advisors, School Improvement Partners, consultants and the previous leadership team, to get involved in a flurry of interventions. Some bemused pupils were finding themselves on a never ending merry go round of extra classes, booster lessons, 1-1 tuition and TA led interventions.
The outcome – little or no improvement in their overall competence. Often there were examples of pupils who went backwards, certainly in terms of behaviour – as they were so often removed from their class and missing out on opportunities they would have enjoyed.
To help tackle this we implemented a checklist to support teachers, Middle Leaders and TAs think through any intervention prior to it being started:
Expect to staff to be able to answer & evidence:
- How many other interventions is the child involved in?
- What is the purpose of this intervention/group?
- Describe the training/preparation you have had for this intervention.
- What assessment was completed prior to the group starting?
- What did this assessment show?
- Have the results been discussed with all adults involved in delivering the support?
- How will progress be measured?
- How will staff/pupils know that they have been successful?
- What feedback is taking place between intervention leader and teacher?
- Can pupils explain what they will be better at?
- Is there evidence of impact from the intervention in closing assessment and then in books/classwork?
- Has the intervention been tailored for the pupils’ needs?
- What timescale is the support to run for?
- will there be a review point before the end to check on progress?
- How much time will the pupil miss from their normal class?
- what subjects will they miss?
- how will the impact of any missed curriculum time be mitigated?
- Could the support be delivered in class?
- What implications are there for typical teaching with this pupil/group when they aren’t in the intervention?
- Does this need to be communicated to parents?
- How is achievement celebrated?
It was too often the case that some of the weakest pupils – with the best of intentions – often spent a large part of their week with the least qualified staff. That surely can’t be a great route to improving outcomes in the long term.
Key to the funding of many support programs will be the Pupil Premium. However research from Becky Allen warns that school leaders need to be very careful about assumptions they make before launching into spending on a plethora of additional classes: click here.
There will be times when an intervention is necessary. Many of our pupils have benefitted from 1-1 catch up sessions for phonics using the RWI program. But don’t believe that more interventions = greater progress! Maybe find some interventions that are happening in your school and ask these questions… what kind of answers do you get from the pupil, the TA, the class teacher, the Middle Leader. Do they match up? Is the purpose clear? Is there clear evidence of impact?