Key Stage 3 is often a time when boys can become disengaged with learning – making them less likely to achieve at Key Stage 4 and more likely to disrupt the learning of others in your class!
Here are ten whole school approaches you can take to try and improve the achievement of boys in your school at Key Stage 3.
In many respects they’re general good practice too, which you could apply to developing learning with any group across your school with some modification.
1) Identify Boys That Need Support
A programme of assessment through the SENCO can be very valuable. It can identify those boys that have not been statemented but have problems of concentration, memory, reading and writing, as well as behaviour.
Support can then be given by the SENCO to the pupils you identify.
2) Smooth Transition with Primary
Develop links with KS2 so that colleagues can experience the educational diet of the students they are going to teach. As students are used to one teacher teaching a variety of subjects, can the induction period be used to develop a cross-curricular unit of work for the first half-term whose aim is to make sure that students do not regress as can happen?
3) Promote an Ethos of Praise And Positive Reinforcement
The aim is to provide a culture that rewards and praises achievement for all students. Boys’ achievements in sports, drama, the arts and in their academic studies can be acknowledged through a merit system, points and rewards in lessons and in the pastoral care system.
Assemblies which praise real achievement can also be very powerful. Certificates of achievement can become part of the internal monitoring system where pupils can be identified as consistently working to develop their skills.
4) Develop Consistency Across the School
Agree a whole-school approach to lessons so that there is consistency across the curriculum and in the teaching situation. Develop common routines at the beginning of lessons:
- Lining up outside the classroom and entering in an orderly fashion and sit where the teacher directs
- Boy/girl seating plans, desks all facing the front or in an arrangement where all pupils can be seen and can see the teacher and board
- Silence when a register is called
5) Make Learning Objectives Clear
Agree as a whole school to put the aims and objectives of the day’s lesson on the board for pupils to refer to, any specific tasks or targets can be added as necessary. Make sure the objectives are achievable and the pupils know when they have to achieve them if you are introducing a complex unit of work.
6) Identifying the Learning Styles That Are Being Addressed
Different departments and teachers may have preferred methods of teaching; a way to develop practice is to pair teachers from different subject areas so that different methodology can be seen and new ideas tried and discussed in a supportive environment.
Trailing an unfamiliar teaching style with support can be a team teaching exercise. The target boys can be involved in assessing the new method and commenting on how it helps them.
7) Having Clear Expectations of Boys
Boys should be expected to behave with courtesy and consideration for others. Colleagues should be able to rely on the support of each other when a whole school policy is being put into practice.
8) Develop Pupil Involvement In The Running Of The School
Students can be encouraged to become involved in setting the standards in the classroom that help learning to occur. Giving boys responsibility in the classroom and around the school is important if they are to feel valued. They respond to fairness, praise and trust and feel safe in their learning environment when it is present.
9) Develop Mentoring Strategies
Use internal and external mentors who are not teachers or LSAs to take an interest in the pupils, or the target group of boys to discuss their progress and generally support them. Youth workers, business people, pastoral officers and others can be successful mentors for disaffected boys as they can provide a different and positive role model.
10) Involve the Parents
A planned strategy for involving parents with the progress of their sons can be very powerful. It could include support for parents who find parenting difficult as well as supporting parents who wish to understand the subjects that their son is having difficulties with.
Finally, there should be a clear direction from the leadership team that improving boys’ achievement is a priority and all staff involved are expected to carry out the agreed policy.
It is important that staff who find teaching boys difficult are supported by senior colleagues and that the action plan is reviewed on a termly basis to allow frank feed-back as to its progress. Whole-school plans need incremental implementation on an ongoing basis if they are to achieve the outcome they have been developed.
If you’d like more information on how to improve boys’ achievement we have a course on that very topic. One of our longest running actually – which shows it’s a perennially important topic.