Whenever you meet a new class for the first time, it can be a little daunting! The students are just essentially pieces of data on a piece of paper in front of you who you know nothing about. This is especially true if you are starting your NQT year in a new school and one you've not completed a placement at.
It is useful, therefore, to "interrogate" the data a little to give you an idea of the context of your class. What does the data show you and how might that impact on teaching & learning. Class context sheets are not a requirement (in general!) for lesson observations and they are certainly not required by Ofsted, however, they are incredibly useful documents to show to an observer. They give an insight into your class and your strategies for doing what you do.
It will also show that you are meeting:
TS2a be accountable for pupils’ attainment, progress and outcomes
TS2b be aware of pupils’ capabilities and their prior knowledge, and plan teaching to build on these
TS2d demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching
TS5 adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils
TS6c use relevant data to monitor progress, set targets, and plan subsequent lessons
It will take some time to really think about the context of your class, but once your context sheet is written, it's a really useful working document to demonstrate that you have really thought about the learners in front of you.
I have put together a template which facilitates this which you are free to use/adapt as you see fit. Unless of course, your school already has a template, in which case you should use theirs!
Start off by looking at the gender split: write comments about what the data tells you about the gender split of the group and how this will be used to inform planning for learning
E.g. The data shows that this group is heavily weighted towards low ability boys.
Boy-friendly methods need to be used in planning e.g. “Chunking” activities down, use of writing templates, quick feedback, competition, praise
Next, look at the Grade Distribution: write comment about what the data tells you about the grade distribution of the group and how this will be used to inform planning for learning
E.g. What are the target grades of the group? What does this tell you about the pitch of the lessons? How will you extend/support learners who fall outside of the “majority”?
After this, are there any "Late Joiners"? Write comments about any student(s) that have joined your class late or have perhaps moved from a different group (or even school) and may be at different places in their learning. How does this impact upon planning for their learning?
E.g. 2 late joiners will be sat at the same table with HPA (high prior attainment) students working at or above target to ensure that gaps in knowledge are closed through peer support
Do you have many EAL students? Write comments about what the data tells you about the potential language barriers in the classroom and how this will be used to inform planning for learning
E.g. use of visual stimuli to support learning of keywords, seating plan shows supportive pair work
Are there any students with Low Reading Ages or Low Numeracy? This might be noted as ARE (Age Related Expectations), some school use different terminology. Write comments about what the data tells you about the literacy & numeracy level of the class. Literacy and Numeracy is the responsibility of every teacher, not just English and Maths!
Comment on the range of literacy strategies you will plan to use with the group (e.g. keywords in context, matching activities, scanning, close reading, cloze exercises, mind maps, use of sub-headings and reflective reading etc.)
How many of your students have an EHCP? Who are they and what are their needs?
Comment on the strategies suggested in their learner passport (EHCP) and how they will be implemented within the lesson(s)
Do you have any SEND Support students? Who are they and what are their needs?
Comment on the strategies suggested in their learner passport and how they will be implemented within the lesson(s)
Will you have an assigned LSA or HLTA for your class? Or perhaps a student or a group of students? Talk about the deployment of LSA support
Comment on how additional support will be used as well as making a note of which students are targeted for support (refer to EHCPs)
What is the Prior Attainment split in your class? Write comments about what the data tells you about the prior attainment of the group and how this will be used to inform planning for learning
E.g. ratio of High Prior Attainment (HPA): Middle Prior Attainment (MPA) and Low Prior Attainment (LPA) What does this tell you about the pitch of the lessons? How will you extend/support learners who fall outside of the “majority”?
How many FSM/PP students do you have? Write comments about what the data tells you about the number of pupil premium (PP) and free school meal (FSM) students and how this will be used to inform planning
E.g. ensuring that PP/FSM students are paired with non-PP/FSM students so that there is peer-to-peer support for learning, how will you improve the cultural capital of these students? What additional support might they require and how will you address these
Have you planned any Intervention?
Make a note of students who you/the subject/faculty are targeting and give a brief overview of any strategies e.g. 6 students who are borderline 4/5 will attend after school revision classes in order to secure Grade 4 or above in the GCSE examinations
12 students are not making sufficient progress towards meeting their end of Key Stage targets and have been selected for Faculty support time. Progress will be monitored on a lesson-by-lesson basis. Effectiveness of interventions will be reviewed regularly.
What about Homework? Or "extended learning"
Comment on when homework is set; what type of homework it is and why it is set. Add completion-rate data if available
Other comments about the characteristics of the group
e.g note any students who may be withdrawn for extra help with HTLA
students who are receiving support to improve behaviour
students who are on report
specific individual student strategies
Seating Plan: include an image of your seating plan which reflects the planning for your class context