Why so many interventions in education?
Until quite recently, educational success and failure was measured through exam results, and teachers were largely left to get on with things until the annual exams, which served as the standard of accountability. In skeletal form, this model still applies. However, a major shift in educational practice and language has occurred in the last few years in terms of how such success is targeted. Now, ‘data’ is expected to drive an increasing range of early evidence-based ‘interventions’ in the way teachers work with students, and teachers are increasingly expected to account for the ‘impact’ of such interventions on student outcomes. Indeed, many school leaders now assume that rigorous intervention is the significant difference between satisfactory and outstanding schools in dealing with ‘underachievement’.
Outside this increasingly formalised framework inside schools, many parents are also evaluated for early educational intervention, while local authorities have intervention teams to assess schools who do not intervene early enough in the classroom. Does this shift to intervention reflect an increasing level of precision in education policy, which can only benefit students and increase the professionalism of their teachers and other carers? Is intervention really necessary to continually improve standards and ameliorate barriers to achievement? And has the ever increasing range of interventions really increased the quality of education in schools and society today?
Mark Taylor, an Assistant Head Teacher at Addey and Stanhope secondary school, London
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