What is the role of the CORE subject coordinator in Primary Schools? (1)

In this article I am going to look at the role of the subject coordinator for CORE subjects.

If you are new to being a coordinator then there are 2 articles which deal with the “nuts and bolts” of being a foundation subject coordinator which you might like to look at and can be found through the search bar.

The role of coordinator involving CORE subjects is a very different animal and seems to be ever changing!

Let me say firstly that I would expect any colleague who is appointed to be a core subject coordinator to also be a senior member of staff and on the senior management team of the school. This is especially so for Maths and Literacy and now with Science coming into the line of fire possibly even for that subject as well.

While I mention Science this has the possibility of causing problems in the not too distant future! Not all children will be required to take the Science tests at the moment, but a number of schools will take part in Science sampling – tested areas being Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Science has not been a prominent subject since being omitted from the Sats testing regime. However I do expect it to return after these initial sample test results and formats are looked at by the Education Department!

This may cause a lot of problems for schools who may not have schemes of work in place nor place any great emphasis on Science teaching – and to be honest science is a subject that is often omitted or infrequently taught in many schools -it could need a big sea change in this area in the future!?

The current problem facing Core subject coordinators is the assessment system – or should we say lack of it! In addition to the major role of Core subject coordination there is the task of linking your subject to a grading/assessment system in school whereby you can track the progress of pupils.

The Department for Education abandoned the old system used as they felt levels were too vague and complicated for parents and not very good at helping them understand their child’s progress; there were also concerns that the levels system could contribute to children developing a “fixed mind-set” about their ability and potential for growth – so they decided to abolish the whole system and leave it to individual schools to develop their own regime!

In larger schools, you will probably have a member of staff on the SMT who is responsible for Assessment and Record Keeping – and really at this time a school needs someone who can work and concentrate on solving this problem. It needs to be a whole school approach and it should be formatted with input from the subject coordinators directly concerned.

Many schools seem to be using statements such as these to describe pupils’ progress, as well as commenting on whether the child has made good progress over the year, giving details of curriculum areas where they have achieved well and areas that need more development and support:

  • Working within the expected level of attainment for his/her age
  • Working towards the expected level of attainment
  • Working below the expected level of attainment
  • Working beyond the expected level of attainment

However these are, in my opinion reporting levels only and must be backed up or supported by actual measurable figures which show a child’s progress or lack of it – and it is these numerical records that you as a Core subject coordinator will need to have and to work with.

Under the changes, from 2016 the government expects 85% of pupils to reach a ‘good level of attainment’ in updated Key Stage 2 SATs (as opposed to the current 65% – a massive increase) – and of course this has been negatively compounded by the curricular expectations that have been re-aligned upwards in some cases by almost 2 years!

In reading back and looking at where we are in this article, we can see the sort of problems that are affecting core subject coordinators and also the size of the task!

Coordinators responsibilities

In it simplicity you are responsible for ensuring the curriculum delivery of your core subject in school – in addition you are also responsible for ensuring that the school, by every means possible is able to monitor, track and ensure pupil progress (in line with national expectations)to the best of its ability. Now that’s quite a statement – but if you have been given this role for a core subject then the school is counting on you to sort all this out, have all the answers and be able to monitor and react to any difficulties or questions that may arise. To put it bluntly “the gun is pointed firmly in your direction!”

Bearing all this in mind, the next article will look at how you can dodge some of these flying bullets or don a bullet proof vest !

There is no need to pull the wagons into a circle – all is not lost!

Charles

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