Data: a silver lining

Featured Image

It was inevitable: the school closures were going to present more than a few challenges for children, parents and teachers.

The challenges, however, are not insurmountable. Covid-19 may be impacting us in all walks of life, but it is also bringing out the best in us. Celebrities and education providers, from Joe Wicks and David Walliams to Tes and twinkl, are sharing their talents and resources to keep children engaged and learning during a difficult time.

It may not have been on the lesson plan, but teachers have a wealth of content they can direct children and their parents to while they are at home.

According to TeacherTapp, the majority of classroom teachers have also gained back some time and are working fewer hours than usual. And with only 4% of state secondary schools streaming live lessons, the regular teaching timetable has been put on hold.

So how can teachers make best use of the time and content now available?

The first thing to remember is that parents are not teachers, and that some teachers are parents too. It’s far better to do fewer things that will have an impact than many things that will overwhelm and have no impact.

The second thing is that everyone might not have access to their own devices or have a reliable internet connection. Think outside the screen.

And thirdly, you have data. Whatever type of assessment you use, you have information on each of your students’ strengths and abilities.

Data can be a good starting point to identify what is really important to concentrate on during this time. You can use this as a basis when talking to parents and advising them on the types of activities that they could do together at home or point them towards useful resources.

If you use CEM’s InCAS assessment (now evolved into Cambridge Primary Insight), for example, you have evidence on each student to show their abilities in the key areas of Reading, Maths and Mental Arithmetic.

Reading data

The data on Reading in InCAS is separated into word recognition, word decoding and comprehension.

If a child’s age equivalency score is significantly lower than their actual age for word decoding, you may want to direct parents towards your preferred phonics resources if appropriate, or encourage establishing a daily set reading time together and have a suggested book list ready for parents.

Depending on your school policies and the accessibility of devices in their homes, you could also use the data to form online reading groups to support comprehension with a smaller number of students.

Maths and Mental Arithmetic data

The Maths and Mental Arithmetic modules of InCAS cover everything from the four operations to measure, shape and space, and data handling.

Maths is notoriously a ‘hard subject’ and a substantial percentage of the population have maths anxiety. According to the Nuffield Foundation report, Understanding Mathematics Anxiety, the proportion of adults with functional maths skills equivalent to a GCSE grade C has fallen from 26% in 2003 to 22% in 2011. Therefore, not all parents will be comfortable trying to tackle maths at home.

If a student shows that they are capable of understanding more complex mathematical concepts, then it may be possible to live stream a lesson using Zoom or Skype or film yourself explaining the concept, which they can then use as much as they need.

Lastly, this will not last forever. As difficult and worrying as the situation is right now, life will return to normal and we’ll get back to school. When we do return to school, what will happen? What will be the impact this period has had on our students’ learning? And how can we find that out?

More Information

Take a look at CEM’s flexible Cambridge Primary Insight assessment that helps you monitor and support the progress of children aged 5-11.

Download our Diagnosing & Remediating Literacy and Maths Problems guides from your InCAS+ secure account.