Progress can be difficult to demonstrate when it sways outside of typical progress measures. It is hard enough showing individual progression within our assessment systems at times without the added difficulty of arguing small steps of progression.
But there are other measures of progress we can reference. Look at Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, for example. Think about the child. Have they had their basic physiological needs met? Can we be sure?
In school, we are acting in the parental role. If your child hasn’t brought their drinks bottle to school, we provide them with a drink. If we have a vulnerable group of children turning up without breakfast, we consider putting on a breakfast club. Our duties have never rested simply with teaching, so when I hear “But that’s not my role” it makes me cringe, because it is.
By meeting these basic needs, you can show progress. And it’s not just physiological needs. Again looking at Maslow’s hierarchy, there are other building blocks required to ensure a child is ready to learn: safety and security; love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualisation. Think about it as a ladder: in difficult times you may need to revisit other rungs. This is all measurable progress.
Can children measure their own progress? I think so. Take a simple statement: “I like maths”. Give a child a scale from 0-10 and ask them to rate their thoughts about maths at the beginning of the year: a measurable answer straightaway but that will also lead to a discussion, which is more likely to lead to you next steps.
Demonstrating progress is difficult but all of our children make progress. It’s up to you to battle for each individual child and show progress appropriate to them.
Tracey Lawrence is assistant headteacher and specialist leader of education in social, emotional and mental health at Danemill Primary School in Leicester