Pupil profiles will reduce workloads, headteachers say

30th March 2012 at 01:00
New reporting method for P7 and S3 gains support

The introduction of pupil profiles at P7 and S3 should not add an extra layer of bureaucracy and could even reduce teachers' workload, it has been claimed.

Interest in how to produce profiles that encapsulate pupils' best achievements is growing - as was clear from a packed conference on "reporting and profiling" in Stirling, organised by ELT Consultants, last week.

A number of school leaders told TESS that they expected profiling, a key element in the national Building the Curriculum 5 document, to reduce demands on teachers.

But Irene Matier, past president of primary school leaders' union AHDS, counselled: "Don't get yourself into a position where you're doing something just because you've got to. Stand back and say, `Is this going to be used and is it useful for the young person?'"

Staff should not be prescriptive about what to include in the profiles, she added, although they should challenge youngsters who are unrealistic about the capabilities they have demonstrated.

Mrs Matier's own rule of thumb was: "It should be the child's decision what to put into the profile: what is the child proud of?"

Norman Emerson, assessment programme director at Education Scotland, flagged up a nascent problem: "It's really important that it's genuinely pupils' voices. Some of the language that the young people are using in the exemplars is quite technical, and almost teacherly."

The vision, said Highland quality improvement officer Dave McCartney, should be of an "ongoing, iterative process", involving pupils, teachers and parents: "It's not something that's happened or is going to happen - it's continuous."

He added: "If we are recording information that doesn't actually help the learner, then we're wasting our time."

Parents support profiling and the broad aims of Curriculum for Excellence, stressed the Scottish Parent Teacher Council's executive director, Eileen Prior.

"Wider achievement is something that parents have really bought into," she said and the idea of P7 and S3 profiles was viewed positively, although parents wanted more information on what they would look like.

But parents did not fully understand the jargon that was "jam-packed" into Curriculum for Excellence, she said, and terms used in profiling to assess a pupil's progress - "developing", "consolidating" and "secure" - could cause confusion.

She urged teachers to "use practical examples, understandable comparisons to make things come to life".

Parents wanted clear information about what their children could do, concurred Morag Gunion, Glasgow City Council's head of curriculum, learning and teaching: "I don't particularly want to use terms like `developing' and `consolidating'," she added.

Online sample

All schools are working towards producing the first P7 profiles - for all P7 pupils - by June 2012. All schools will develop profiles for all S3 pupils by June 2013.

Education Scotland worked with some schools to create early P7 examples: http:bit.lyuxfLrV.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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