The Education Insider: Handovers

In her second post for us, education expert Jodie Lopez is discussing the importance of handover notes, and how they can help ensure you and your colleagues maximise every moment of the time you have with your new classes.

Now is the perfect time to think about next June. No, really it is! Term may have only just begun but that is exactly what makes this the ideal time to gather some invaluable feedback ready for next summer.

What am I referring to? Handover time of course!

Last year was the first year that all primary children would have been taught the new curriculum and prepared for the new SATs and Interim Teacher Assessment Frameworks. The first year saw Year 2 and Year 6 joining everyone else in a levels-free world. This means that your school curriculum was likely to be the main focus through the year – tweaks here and there to the content, reworking of objectives, new long term plans looking at coverage…and so on.

Assessment-wise, the focus at the end of the year would have been around those end of key stage SATs and any other in-school assessments you chose to use for other year groups. So what did you ask teachers to handover? And how?

Maybe you have an assessment system which allows teachers to simply look back on results from last year without the need for extra documentation, or maybe you had separate pro forma for handover information. Some systems (whether built specifically for you in school or a piece of software or web service you use) will allow teachers to see historic results in summative terms whilst others also include formative assessment information. It is likely that you have considered the features of your assessment system (paper based or otherwise) in terms of how it impacted on results during and at the end of last year but have you looked at how it has worked for handover to the new teachers?

September is always going to be a busy month, a time for teachers to settle in with their new class and get to know them, so the handover arrangements for NEXT year are likely to be far from peoples’ minds. What IS likely to be making an impact now, however, is the handover information each teacher was given LAST summer term.

Now is the time when any frustrations with the data they received will be having an impact on those all-important first impressions. These frustrations will be long forgotten, in all likelihood, by next summer. Therefore it makes sense to get some feedback on the handover now, even if the feedback is simply filed away in a folder somewhere until next June.

Find out whether teachers felt they did not have enough information about their new pupils, or had too much information. Is there a way to break the information down into chunks? Would a headline measure have been enough to give them what they needed to know? If there was more detail, was it the RIGHT detail? Is there anything else they would have liked to know which would have helped them to maximise the first weeks of term and fill some gaps in knowledge?

Do they know enough about which areas of the curriculum each child excels in or struggles with, without being so bogged down in detail that they are struggling to spend time finding the right information at the right time to impact on planning?

Any changes you can make based on feedback for next year will help to ensure that teachers are empowered to maximise every moment of the time they have with their new class. And it never hurts to find ways to make paperwork more efficient – something that every teacher is bound to get on board with!

Jodie is an award winning ex-primary teacher who now works as a Freelance Edtech Consultant. Her interest in using technology in education has led to her working with a number of educational technology businesses since leaving the classroom. Most recently she has been Head of Education for an assessment system provider and has specialised in helping schools to transition to the new curriculum and leaving levels behind. Follow her on Twitter here.

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