Over the past couple of days on Twitter, discussions have been ongoing about whether schools put their “strongest” teacher(s) in Y6 or not. This brought about a poll by @_MissieBee.
Many have also commented on how parents view which year group teachers work in, even to the point where a move from Y6 to a younger year group has been commented on as a demotion. This makes me sad but also makes me wonder how that impression came to be.
It has caused a great deal of debate (and some upset), not only by those in Y6 but also those not in Y6.
For those who say yes, they do put their “strongest” teachers in Y6, what message is this sending out to the rest of the teachers in the school? That they are not as strong? The Y6 teacher is the “best” teacher?
Some schools pay their Y6 teacher a TLR for being in Y6. This is a different conversation, however both of these situations are a very quick way of demeaning other teachers and damaging morale in a school.
What does strongest even mean in this context? More experienced in Y6? Strictest? Most creative? Most willing to sacrifice other areas of the curriculum for Maths and English (not at all the case in all schools, I hasten to add)? Highest paid? Longest serving member of staff? The one who has read the most children’s books?
The work of every teacher ensures that the children are ready for the next part of their learning journey, whether that be Reception into Y1, Y2 into Y3, Y5 into Y6 or Y6 going onto high school. They each bring their own knowledge, experience and style to wherever they are working.
The decision making process for which teachers go into which year groups is a difficult one and is definitely not taken lightly or quickly. Knowledge of staff and children/cohorts is of the utmost importance. I always found it useful to have discussions with teachers about where they felt their skills were best placed (and the last place they wanted to be) and if they felt they wanted a change to develop themselves professionally. It was then a case of discussing with SLT and working out what is the best fit for the school. Sometimes the plans change up to the last minute, depending on staff leaving, joining etc. I also know many teachers who have shed tears about a move that they did not agree with, but in the end they have loved both the challenge and the year group.
It should be the case that all teachers in all year groups are equally valued and play their part in the full learning journey of the children. Every year is crucial. It is the only chance the children will ever get in that year.
Someone likened the learning journey to growing plants…EYFS plant the seeds and from there, all subsequent year groups feed and nurture the plants to ensure their growth and development, under the best conditions for this. Y6 should then be the year to show off the culmination of all previous years, buds becoming fully formed, glorious flowers.
We are all in this together.