Who gets missed

Who gets missed

Greg Watson, Chief Executive, GL Assessment

Making sure every child reaches their full potential has long been the goal for teachers, but how confident are you that this is actually being achieved in your classroom?

“The ‘hard to spot’ may have spent years learning how to hide the things they don’t know.”
Peter Wylie, Director of Education, Baker Dearing Trust

It’s a common problem that while we are able to spot and challenge high achievers or support those who have clearly recognisable learning difficulties, there is a subset of children who are at risk of flying under the radar. These are the diligent children who hide their struggles, who do ‘well enough’ in class but could be capable of so much more, or children whose obvious disruptive behaviour is masking a more serious issue.

What often frustrates educators about this situation is that if these pupils can be spotted early enough, there is a chance they can be taught the skills they need to progress. Yet these children, and the obstacles that prevent better learning, can be very difficult to identify.

Who are the 'hard to spot' children?

As you will know only too well, barriers to learning come in many shapes and sizes. In this report we look at some different types of ‘hard to spot’ Here are some examples.

The pupil with a reading difficulty

Far too few children who have an issue with reading are picked up in primary school. Often the problem only becomes apparent when the child joins secondary school, when so much teaching and learning is text based.

We have published some research with the University of York on pupils with reading difficulties. The research, which studied 857 11- to 16-yearolds, found that there were some students in every secondary school year group who had a reading age of 6 or 7 years. In addition, 54% of 12- and 16-year-olds were shown to have significant reading problems but were not identified on the school’s SEN Register.

The quiet or disengaged pupil

This group of pupils share a common characteristic – the fact that their apparent compliance masks hidden abilities or barriers to learning. This is the pupil who does not raise their hand in class, manages a C in tests and never causes problems, so their true ability is often lost.

The pupil whose behaviour hides a more serious problem

The intelligent but disruptive child who does not see the point in learning. It is their behaviour that often becomes the focus of the school’s attention so their potential remains untapped.

Reliable and rigorous assessment can be critical in helping us uncover these ‘invisible’ children.

Assessment data can give you that ‘A-ha!’ moment when the reason why a pupil might be hiding their light under a bushel is finally revealed.

In conjunction with teacher judgements, good assessments that are built in to the curriculum will go beyond a simplistic picture of progress. They triangulate information from different sources and help delve into a more diagnostic approach to ensure all children are given the best chance of success.

Assessment data can give you that ‘A-ha!’ moment when the reason why a pupil might be hiding their light under a bushel is finally revealed.

This guide shares real examples from teachers and school leaders of how ‘hard to spot’ children may present themselves in the classroom. It also looks at how practitioners have gone about identifying these children using assessment and other means, and most importantly, will look at some of the best ways to support them so that they are put on track to fulfil their true potential.