How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

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math-teacher
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Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:48 am

How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by math-teacher »

I am looking for a new location and was wondering how to figure out if the primary program will produce students at grade level and not several grades below. Which questions and information should I look for to read the tea leaves upon the quality of the primary department?
fine dude
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Location: SE Asia

Re: How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by fine dude »

Not easy, but you can ask how often students' publish in their newsletter or what kind of models they use to learn math and science or even what is the dominant method of learning in school? You could also inquire about teachers' qualifications. Best thing to do is visit schools and learn first-hand.
PsyGuy
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Location: Northern Europe

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Post by PsyGuy »

Assuming you cant visit an IS in person. The best indicators are:
1) Past externally moderated assessment score results, ISs usually brag about them if they have them.
2) Implementation, availability and use of external curriculum resources. What book/publisher do thy use for maths, and reading, etc.
3) Whats their ICT look like? ISs with better funded ICT resources generally have better support availability aside from the HRT IT.
4) Whats their ESOL program look like? Is the IS in general just one big ESOL program using primary as a vehicle for service and delivery. Is there a defined support program, a curriculum focus? The less organized the ESOL approach the less likely your going to produce student performance at grade level.
5) Whats the staff look like are they predominately ETs, and the classes are mostly edutainment?
Blackbird
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Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:59 pm

Re: How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by Blackbird »

Assuming primary students are actually the majority feeding the secondary? In a few schools I have worked in, students have entered secondary from other schools/countries. Many with variable levels of academic ability and English. International students are transient and I don't think you can ever assume a school has a high percentage of students moving right through the school.
math-teacher
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Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:48 am

Re: How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by math-teacher »

I understand that international school has a transient student body; however, there is a difference between a school having decent teachers and where it is more of a fun daycare and academic progress, is not important because ....(fill in whatever discourse sounds pleasant).

Even if the students are transient, the curriculum should be aligned from bottom to top, the heads of the year should ensure that the grade targets are being taught and have a tracking in place for those students with SEN needs, thus when those students move to the secondary school the secondary teachers should be informed of the SEN needs of the students.

I find it hard to believe the number of students woefully below grade-appropriate levels at my current school. It should not be the norm to be teaching Year 4 content material to Year 7 students, with justification by the Head of Junior is that there was a poor teacher in year 5. How can a Year five teacher destroy the academic abilities of an entire class and not be noticed by anyone? What did the year 6 teacher do? I do understand that students can have SEN needs and I have no issue with that; however, it should be a result of the neurodiversity of the student not from poor teaching.

The problem I am having is that there doesn't seem to be any tracking or benchmark examinations I can view on websites to at least hint at having some ability to imbibed the content learning to the students. Thus, I am looking to move to another school in the future but I do not want to place my children in such a learning environment; how can I ensure the next location has decent teachers that will do what is expected? What are the earmarks of a decently operating Junior school?

@Blackbird, the intent of my reply was not to anathematize you; however, correct my muzzy original post.
Blackbird
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Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:59 pm

Re: How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by Blackbird »

Now I totally agree with you! That does sound like poor management indeed. I understand your frustration with lack of information regarding tracking, curriculum alignment etc. It is very hard to tell, IB scores are the only grades that are published in my experience and by then it's too late. International schools are very secretive about their assessment, especially in Primary. It's also fairly easy for a lazy teacher to 'hide' from scrutiny if they really want to. I have worked in schools where Primary teachers do what they want, my current school is the opposite - they produce copious amounts of data for each subject and teachers are expected to have a discussion about how they intend to lift low students or cater for high achieving etc. Guess it's up to reading the reviews a networking.
steve416
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Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 5:13 am

Re: How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by steve416 »

I agree with what everyone else has mentioned.

From the perspective of someone who has taught Year 6/Grade 5 for a bit you should look at the academic requirements for new students. You might be able to find it on websites or just ask in interviews.

This is all pretty anecdotal so take it with a grain of salt but I am about a decade into IE mostly at IB schools if that is relevant.

It is rare for schools to have very well run SEN/Spec-ed departments (I know they exist but they are pretty light many places) and some schools have wide open admissions.

So you will get schools in places with a bunch of International Schools that basically collect the students that can't or don't get into the more competitive places or have parents that are not particularly worried about their academics for whatever reason. It just makes for an environment that is unlikely to turn out the things you are looking for.

Throw in a highly transient students/staff maybe a big change in direction from admin every 3 or 4 years and it gets messy.
sid
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Re: How to tell if Primary actually teaches?

Post by sid »

I certainly agree with other posters that a school should have a coherent curriculum and a monitoring system, etc. SEN support... all that. And transient families make our international lives all the more interesting.
But I must point out that schools all over the world, and notably domestic schools in our home countries, even high-end private schools, all have students at a range of ability/achievement levels. That's just the nature of kids. They do not learn in assembly line fashion.
I'm probably asking to be a target here, but I've had far too many conversations over the years with middle and high school teachers, even elementary teachers, who felt it was everyone else's fault that some students arrived in their lessons "underprepared".
steve416
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Post by steve416 »

@sid makes a reasonable point
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