27th May 2020
Online preparation for pupils with regard to entrance exams
INTO has a policy of opposition to the entrance tests commonly used by grammar schools to determine admissions. It follows therefore that INTO is against the production of extra resources for pupils who may be sitting these tests, including pre-recorded video lessons/tutorials. A teacher’s job is to teach the Northern Ireland Curriculum, not to prepare children for a test which is used by some post-primary schools as an admissions criterion. Therefore, time spent producing video lessons and/or other resources for GL and AQE testing, or similar, detracts from time spent preparing meaningful resources to assist with some form of continued learning for ALL pupils at this time. Treating pupils in a manner that may be perceived as more or less favourable than some others also runs the risk of a school falling foul of the relevant equality legislation.
Primary schools are not responsible for the admissions criteria of post-primary schools and it may be time better spent by those concerned with potential detriment to the transfer of children from primary to post-primary, to direct their concerns to those responsible for administering the tests and those setting the criteria for entrance to schools.
Pre-recording lessons for online use
This is, broadly speaking, a ‘new’ issue. Producing videos for use by children is fraught with potential difficulties in terms of child protection, data protection, privacy and so on. Video lessons, even where they are for all students and in line with the demands of the curriculum, should only be produced in controlled situations using technology that is secure and safe. The facility for such a situation does not exist for teachers working from home or socially distanced in schools. Neither is there support from EA or DE in the production of such material to ensure the necessary safeguards and standards required.
INTO advises against home or in school production of lessons in the form of pre-recorded videos for a number of reasons. The majority of staff will not have been trained in this and the availability of technology will vary from home to home and therefore there is no way to guarantee the video will not be shared, doctored, misused and so on. Lessons produced and presented as recordings can lead to unfair comparison and critique outside of the proper context of a real time lesson for both the individual teacher and the school. Any video lesson would have to be carefully edited which may be beyond the normal expected ICT competence for most teachers given that teachers are not normally trained in the production of effective pre-recorded video lessons and tutorials. The time spent on such lessons has the potential to be unreasonable and detract significantly from the time required to meet the needs of all pupils in a fair and equitable way at this present time.
In the midst of very uncertain times, teachers and schools are already under enormous pressure and are working extremely hard to produce a variety of materials for pupils to use at home. In light of this and all of the above, INTO advises its members against the addition to their workload of pre-recorded or real-time tutorial style online lessons to meet the needs of post-primary school admissions tests, which, in INTO’s view are both unnecessary and counterproductive in educational terms.