Tackling Teacher Workload with Renaissance Solutions
by Denisha Polin and Lula Dahir
In the ‘new normal’, it has become critical for school leaders and teachers to ensure continuity and consistency in learning to meet curriculum standards whilst maintaining flexibility in assessment, planning, and instructions to adapt to the changing context and student needs. Establishing a balance is crucial to reduce gaps in learning whilst also supporting pupils’ and staff’s wellbeing.
Integrated and streamlined processes can help schools to improve their workflow, eliminate unnecessary teacher workload and facilitate greater collaboration in schools and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs).
Identifying the challenges
In the context of a classroom of up to 30 pupils, each working at different levels, with different challenges, it can be difficult to locate effective resources, tools and activities that meet the needs of each individual pupil and provide personalised support.
Additionally, greater demands for effective hybrid or blended learning environments resulting from the pandemic have exacerbated the need for teachers to adjust their lessons and assessments models to accommodate the needs of all pupils learning both in the classroom and at home.
With summative and formative assessment in place throughout the year, recording, inputting, monitoring and analysing data are some of the key factors contributing to teacher and leadership burnout during assessment.
School leaders and teachers are also required to prioritise curriculum standards that are important for future learning to ensure effective consolidation and retrieval amongst pupils. To do this, they need to break down topics into small steps in clear sequence to help build pupils build fluency and understanding before progressing to more complex and challenging issues. All this can be time-consuming and compromise teaching time.
Research shows that teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement. Therefore, it is critical that resources and technology support them to maximise teaching time and minimise unnecessary workload.
According to a DfE survey investigating factors that contribute towards teacher workload, the following key areas were mentioned:
- Curriculum planning
- Marking and feedback
- Reporting and data management
- Classroom management and lesson delivery
Our solutions provide:
- Curriculum-aligned assessments, lesson plans, and content in reading and maths that are customisable to meet students’ needs and assist them to progress towards mastery
- Assessment and practice platforms that automatically mark pupils work and offer teachers real-time data to scaffold feedback to help pupils move forward and build prior knowledge
- Computer-adaptive assessments and practice platforms for reading and maths which personalises learning for each individual pupil alleviating the need for teachers to differentiate manually
- Provides workbook/guidance known as Focus skills which identifies the most important conceptual knowledge and understanding that pupils need as they progress through the curriculum. These focus skills are developed in partnership with NFER and arranged in the order in which they are typically learned.
- Data and analytics that are easily accessible and effectively organised to guide teachers on ‘what is next’ and help leaders to benchmark and support teachers in their implementation
“We use data from Star Reading results as evidence for additional time requests for SATs and refer to the data created to see the impact of lockdown on our children’s reading skills.”
– Lynsey, Year 2 teacher, Marish Primary School
Screening and progress monitoring pupils with Star Assessments
Star Assessments supports pupils and teachers by providing skill-based questions that determine mastery within skill domains to ensure age-related expectations are being met. These skills are charted on the learning progressions that have been built for the national curriculum by experts at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), enabling teachers to monitor progress over time. At the beginning of the academic year, teachers can use Star Assessments for screening their pupils and pinpointing the level at which they are performing relative to benchmarks and standards.
In between major testing periods such as the beginning and ending of the academic year, Star can be used as a tool to monitor students’ progress and ensure that they are on track. Having data like this is instrumental in planning, teaching, learning and allowing teachers to see what is and isn’t working so that timely interventions can be organised and implemented. Having such data and insights readily available means that whether discussing pupil progress with senior staff members, or reporting to parents, teachers are well equipped to share and review results. Compiling data, creating graphs, applying decision rules, and storing data are just some examples of tasks made faster and easier for teachers using Star Assessments.
“School leaders always want to see individualised planning and learning strategies. With Star Maths, we always had this information in front of us. And now, with Freckle, we can monitor pupils’ individual learning much more easily. Using Star Maths and Freckle together allows staff to provide more comprehensive and ambitious learning plans.”
– Alicia Whytock, Assistant Head for KS1, Plumcroft Primary School
Combining Star and Freckle for maths practice and assessment
When used together, Star Maths and Freckle provide targeted maths practice, tailored to each pupils’ level. Teachers can identify Focus Skills for each year group to ensure their pupils are meeting year-specific objectives. Also tackling staff workload, smart recommendations will identify which topics students struggled with, areas that may require additional practice, and which students are ready to progress onto tasks that are more challenging such as a ‘depth of knowledge’ activity. The administrator dashboard presents class- and school-level insights on usage and pupil growth to support trust-level initiatives and targets where leaders can monitor planning to ensure appropriate assessment and differentiation.
“It’s [Nearpod] is a very easy to use and adaptable teaching platform with an impressive amount of lessons and resources for teachers to tap into. It’s a great way for teachers to plan their lessons, and to see the progress that their pupils are making.”
– Jonathan Coy CEO, HeadteacherChat
Simplified lesson planning and whole-class engagement with Nearpod
The latest addition to the Renaissance suite of products is Nearpod, which enhances teacher workflow by connecting teachers and students with the interactive tools, resources, and content teachers need, all in one place. Teachers can gain real-time insights into student understanding by utilising formative assessment and simulation features available. Teaching to a whole class – even when some students are working from home – is so much simpler using Nearpod, especially as existing lessons can be enhanced with interactive content including Virtual Field Trips and games. Whether PowerPoints, Google Slides or PDF documents, these can simply be uploaded onto Nearpod and saved under one file, making it easily accessible and ready to teach, rather than alternating through various tabs and having to locate material during a lesson. Additionally, teachers can choose from thousands of ready-to-teach, customisable, standards-aligned lessons that are already available and cover a wide spectrum of topics and themes.