File it, keep it

19th November 2004 at 00:00
It's important to keep track ofyour progress as you build your graduate teacher portfolio. Harry Dodds offers tips on organising the mass of paperwork

A graduate teacher portfolio is a paper trail of evidence that demonstrates, in detail, how you've met each of the standards for qualified teacher status. If you're not careful, it can turn into a monster that swamps more and more floor space every week. The most dramatic portfolio I've seen lived in six copy paper boxes and a dozen drum-tight Tesco bags.

Sorting it out cost the trainee almost as much effort as she'd put in to working through the rest of the course. Having a well-organised portfolio isn't a requirement for passing, but it will make your life easier.


You will need:

* Three or four A4 lever arch folders to hold the edited evidence that shows you've met each of the standards. These are what your external assessor will see. Dedicate one folder to standards 1.1 to 1.8, professional values and practice, the next to 2.1 to 2.7, knowledge and understanding, and the remaining folders to 3.1.1 to 3.3.14 - all the teaching standards

* Clear plastic pockets to go into the folders

* Stickers to label each pocket with a standard, from 1.1 to 3.3.14

* One A4 lever arch folder to hold your day-by-day records and resources - your teaching file

* A lever arch folder to store all the other evidence that doesn't go in to your main presentation evidence files, but which you might need to have ready if your assessor wants to see more

* A box for audio or visual records, such as photos or tapes.


At the start of your training, once a week, take the paper you've accumulated and file it. Each lesson plan or observation is likely to show evidence that you've met or are working towards more than one standard. The problem is, each piece of paper is likely to be relevant to more than one standard. So how should you file them? There are two ways to file. Choose which your prefer, and stick to it.

1 Cross-referencing

Decide which two or three standards the piece of evidence most strongly supports, and note them at the top of the paper. You can then either photocopy and file the copies in the other relevant pockets, or you can cross-reference -put a slip in the other standards pockets saying "See also evidence for 3.2.2 in 2.4." The other method you could use is 2 Indexing

Devise a table - use a computer to do it and you're showing evidence that you've part-met standard 2.5. List the standards in one column, and the location of the evidence in the next. Make this as sophisticated as you like, and include dated references to mentor and tutor meetings, in-service and external training -anything that will help assessors find their way through the whole record of your experience.

Presentation folder

Towards the end of your training, edit your big files to a presentation folder (or, more likely, folders). Don't throw anything away - assessors can ask unexpected questions, and may want to see supplementary evidence.

You are aiming to present a coherent, narrative record not only of what you have done, but also of how you have grown as a result of your experiences.

Make life easy for your assessor. He or she will be starting from cold, trying to build a picture of your competence from a mass of evidence.

* Give structure and signposts, show you're organised, and you're almost there.

* Support your claim to have achieved each standard with an average of three pieces of focused evidence, and make it clear that more is available, if required.

* Ice the cake with a really clear index.

Evidence - what counts?

Your evidence must cover two key stages, and should show that you've been inside more than one school. You can include:

* Witness statements from people you work with, such as other teachers and support staff. Don't go overboard with them, but they are very powerful, when used in moderation

* Video or audio records of your teaching

* Subject knowledge audits - a tick list of what you know. Don't forget ICT skills

* Minutes of meetings

* Records of co-operation with other professionals, such as education welfare officers or educational psychologists

* Write-ups of school trips, although you're likely to shadow a teacher organising an outing. Show that you understand risk assessments

* Targets you've set for pupils and for yourself

* Notes of relevant books you've read

* Records of parents' evenings and of any home-school communications

* Photos and videos of classroom displays, field trips, residentials

* Certificates: skills tests, health and safety qualifications, computer course certificates

* Resources you've made, and explain who or what they were for

* Proof that you can award exam grades or assess key stage levels

* Pupil records, individual education plans, samples of pupil reports and their work, homework diaries, and mark books. Make sure they are anonymous (see note on data protection below)

* If you're in secondary school, don't forget key skills (standard 3.3.2d).

Almost everyone does.


Your portfolio shows how you've met the standards, but the most powerful kind of evidence shows what you've learned and how you've progressed through the year. Put together three or four units, sampled at different times of your year, to include:

* A lesson plan.

* Its associated resources.

* The observation report.

* Your own evaluation.

* Targets and a mini action plan derived from your evaluation and from discussion with your mentor.

* The plan for the lesson that follows in the teaching sequence for the same group, to show how your teaching is improving.

The lesson plans and observation reports should, between them, comfortably provide evidence of your progress towards meeting at least 80 per cent of the standards - in your planning, you can show that you can define and set objectives drawn from the national curriculum or framework, create appropriate resources, use your subject knowledge, give feedback to pupils, differentiate... how many standards is that, already?

Your observer can give feedback to support all the classroom climate and management standards; your evaluation can focus on how you used assessment and information from individual education plans. The next lesson plan can show how you are learning as a teacher, improving your strategies, responding to your pupils' learning needs.

Data Protection

Children must not be identifiable in your portfolio. Any pupil records, diaries, samples of work, or even your mark book, must have all names hidden. Photographs or videos with children should be fine, as long as they aren't identified.

Next issue: Getting the best from your external assessor, in 'First Appointments' on January 14

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