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As many of you know, we have lots of staff here at Crookhorn who love to spend the very limited spare time they have outside of their normal working day doing further reading or research and gaining further qualifications. As is often mentioned, learning is a life-long experience and all these staff are certainly proof of that! Vicci Masson is currently doing some further training and is leading a project here at College that she describes below. Take it away Vicci..

How many times have you surveyed the year 11’s just before you send them off for their exam and thought to yourself that one of your class (probably a boy!) is innately bright but will probably fail due to their attitude. How many times have you mentioned a year 11 name in the staff room, and everyone nods and murmurs around you acknowledging and confirming your frustration with that student?  This group of disaffected children are not confined to year 11 but the pressures of exams and the arrogance of adolescence means that it is most apparent in this year group. 

They can often be the hardest group for teachers to deal with.  Even for teachers with a wealth of experience, we can get them onside in the lesson, but we know that they will just not revise or put in the effort at home.  They feel that failure is inevitable and that trying would just make the failure harder to take. These are the students who need to have that OPEN MIND mindset but often struggle in terms of independence, perseverance and determination to succeed. Their confidence in their own failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While on a course recently we were asked to complete some data analysis.  Choosing my Year 11 class I looked at Frankie, Tyler and Seb and thought about what we could have done with them in Year 7 when we identified they were likely to underachieve. What part of their personality or character is key for us to work on over the coming years for them to be successful?

Having investigated other schools in the area I discovered the PASS test.  Run by GL Assessment the PASS or Pupil Attitude to self and school test aims to highlight the attitudinal factors in our young people that can lead them to become disaffected. 

Attitudinal factor

What it measures

1. Feelings about school

Explores whether a pupil feels secure, confident and included in their learning community.

2. Perceived learning capability

Offers an insight into a pupil’s level of self-respect, determination and openness to learning.

3. Self-regard

Equivalent to self-worth, this measure is focused specifically on self-awareness as a learner, highlighting levels of motivation and determination.

4. Preparedness for learning

This measure covers areas such as study skills, attentiveness and concentration, looking at the pupil’s determination and openness to learning.

5. Attitudes to teachers

This measures a young person’s perceptions of the relationships they have with the adults in school. A low score can flag a lack of respect.

6. General work ethic

Highlights the pupil’s aspirations and motivation to succeed in life, this measure focuses on purpose and direction, not just at school, but beyond.

7. Confidence in learning

Identifies a pupil’s ability to think independently and to persevere when faced with a challenge.

8. Attitudes to attendance

Correlating very highly with actual attendance 12 months later, this measure enables teachers to intercede earlier with strategies to reduce the likelihood of truancy.

9. Response to curriculum demands

This measure focuses more narrowly on school-based motivation to undertake and complete curriculum-based tasks, highlighting the pupil’s approach to communication and collaboration.


Schools who have used this test isolate those students who score negatively in the 9 areas and begin targeted intervention.  The service provides a range of interventions to address the specific areas highlighted but these can obviously be combined with College interventions that are already in place.

To prove this could have an impact I will be taking a test group of year 7s.  Our current data suggests that a crunch point for Crookhorn is middle ability disadvantaged boys. There are 10 boys that fit this criteria in year 7.  I will be working specifically with five students, while the other five will become my control group.

The test which the students will be completing in PSHE in the next few weeks will highlight areas that the boys find a challenge which will then form the basis of the interventions I will follow in College. In the first instance if you teach these students, I will be canvassing your opinion- what works and what doesn’t work with these students. I will then look at what strategies we as classroom teachers will aim to adopt across the curriculum to help these boys succeed.

Schools who have been successful with this scheme have had targeted whole school training and cross department meetings to share best practice. This is such a key area for Crookhorn as we know that with every cohort, we will have a large percentage of students who fall into this bracket and so any tips/ideas/strategies that we can all use will help.  

I look forward to sharing with you the findings of my project over the coming months and any feedback on strategies you have implemented with disaffected students would be most appreciated.

Related links (Pass Testing and links to reading regarding the disadvantaged gap)