How can we show that non-teacher intervention is working in school
Note: this article is based on working practice during 2005
It is clear that current and future developments within the education system are focused on using data to prove that change has taken place. However, the question is what change or changes will support influence judgments about support staff. Personally, I believe that support staff should not be solely judged on the learners’ academic performance. Support staff deliver a range of interventions aim at different areas of the learner’s holistic development e.g. behavioural, social and educational development (BSED). Thus, the support worker performance or impact should be judged against the stated needs of the learner, creating three categories of performance or assessment which inferences three core skillsets wrapped in a clear understanding of pedagogical practice.
The biggest issue facing government, schools and support workers is how to show that the taxpayer is getting value for money from the pupil premium fund. All too often this falls back on to the academic changes of the learners who have been supported by a support worker(s) which is funded by this pot of money. However, research from across the developed world shows that this is not a valid method of proving support workers impact.
There is a shift, back to the pre and post-baseline assessment of learners to show that intervention has made a difference to the individual child and young person. The approach is a simple idea and can show progress in the learner’s development, which in turn can be used to argue that these developments have contributed to any academic improvements of the learner and those learners who share the learning environment, especially if the principal issue is behavioural or disruption.
Figure one shows the mean average of all intervention over one-half term (about six weeks) of 80 students using the Jane McSherry Coping in School Survey. The graph has five sections and each section has five bars (columns) where the first three columns are indicator columns and the last two columns indicate the mean scores for pre-intervention and post-intervention.
It can be seen that all sections or skillsets have achieved a mean increase after the half term intervention, except for the skillset ‘self and others.’ This was a consistent trend and only showed a marginal increase over the year. Even after focused changes to the intervention methods used to targeting this skillset. I would also like to draw your attention to the ‘self-management and behaviour’ skillset. The gains in this skillset were always consistently low. Suggesting that intervention in these two skillsets needs to be specific and enduring which in turn needs to be reflected in any performance assessment of support workers.
This overarching data can inform areas like:
- The deployment of support workers (based on the support worker skillsets) in relation to the learners specific needs
- The training and CPD needs of the support staff to target weak areas
- The overall impact or difference that the support team has had over that half term
WARNING: Finally, take a moment to consider which assessment you are using to show the impact of the support team. There are many different assessments which test many different aspects of the learner and equally have different copyright conditions. Be very clear about what you want the assessment to show. For example, if you want the assessment to show the learners attitude to school and learning then there is no point completing a self-esteem test.
Once you have selected an assessment you now need to consider the ethical and moral issues around implementing it. If you have chosen an assessment used by health professionals to support mental health assessment and your data shows that the learner is severely depressed, what will the school put in place to support that child to guard against liability or even worse, self-harm. Also, do you have the (ethical) right to implement the assessment without informed consent from the parent and/ or the child.