Before he teaches he has to fill in three sides of A4 paper. Not once a week, or even once a day. Before each and every lesson

16th May 2003 at 01:00
Isn't it appalling that the level of trust in teachers is at such a desperate low these days? Not just at DfES level, but increasingly from senior management in schools - people who were presumably once in the classroom and really should know better.

A friend is a head of department in a secondary school. He is experienced, dedicated, excellent. But a new broom is sweeping his academic corridors, and before he teaches he has to fill in three sides of A4 paper. Not once a week, or even once a day. Before each and every lesson. I wondered why I hadn't seen him in his garden, and it seems he's kissed goodbye to evenings and weekends. The depth of planning he has to undertake is ludicrous and impossible to achieve without staying awake for 24 hours a day. Even then, you could only do it if you were Superman.

On page one you fill in your name (get the tough ones over with first), the day, the date, the time of day, the room you're taking the lesson in, the class being taught and the topic you're teaching. Then, there's a space for your desirable outcomes. (To remain upright?) Next, a slot for equipment requirements. (I shall need an overhead projector. I must remember to write down "overhead projector" in case I forget. Oh, and some overhead transparencies. And pencils. And paper.) Next, a section for "key words", presumably important words and phrases you're trying to emphasise in the lesson. ("Please stop firing screwed-up wet tissues at the ceiling," springs to mind.) Now "context". There's quite a large space for that, whatever it is. Then we need to show how we're incorporating key skills, literacy, numeracy, ICT, citizenship and SMSC (sado-masochism for stressed colleagues?), all of which must be related to the lesson in hand and need a sentence or two.

Close behind are special needs, English as an additional language, hearing impairments and, of course, gifted and talented. Naturally, we need a full explanation of what these groups will be doing. Differentiated homework plan comes next, and finally risk assessment. (We couldn't get away without one.) The greatest risk is that the teacher will go nuts and try to chew his own leg off.

Worn out? Your pencil blunt? Take a deep breath, because here comes page twoI Now you have to sketch out your entire lesson structure for the three main elements: introduction, development and plenary. Not only the teacher's activity, mind, but a full explanation of what the children will be doing as well. Then there's a space for "assessment opportunities", "lesson comments" and "next week". Presumably the latter is like a cinema trailer to whet the children's appetite for the next episode. ("Wow, I can't hardly wait for next week. The chance to complete another photocopied worksheet.") But we haven't finished yet. Onwards, to page three, wherein we find a class information sheet. This time, we fill in the number on register, the number present, the able students (as opposed to disabled?), the classroom seating plan, the group ability, and the higher, middle, and lower ability students in the group.

Finally - do stay with it, we're almost there - we have a space for any additional comments or suggestions. Well, I could think of a few. In fact, I'd suggest that whoever wrote the form should roll it up very tightly andI But there, don't tempt me.

Mike Kent is head of Comber Grove primary, London borough of Southwark.


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