Should we keep doing interventions?

#teammagicalmaths @Burrows_Physics

Should we keep doing interventions?

OK so on first reading, the answer to this question is a fairly obvious yes.

I find it strange that yes is my answer. I left school in 2008 and I had never even heard of intervention. From asking my colleagues, neither have they. Admittedly, it is a poor sample. We all have good degrees from “good” universities so we are unlikely have ever required interventions at school. But even that said, as far as any of us / any of our friends know, it never existed at all, less that 10 years ago.

Now as a teacher of 5 years, it is a bit different. Doing intervention sessions for exam students in evenings / holidays is just a given for most teachers. My question is, are we actually damaging our students by running them?


My frustration with education at the moment is that I feel that not enough of the responsibility is being placed on the shoulders of our students. We read about how our students are the most stressed / suffer the most mental health problems of any students ever but we never stop to ask ourselves a very crucial question: is the reason our students feel so out of control the fact we keep re-iterating to them that their learning is out of their control?

I for one believe that students need to be told that if they succeed or fail that that is for the most part their doing. (I would like to point out here that we as teachers have a responsibility to make sure students are not disadvantaged by factors outside their control e.g. personal circumstances, SEN etc.)

I feel great frustration that students now seem to feel that they have a right to success not that they have an opportunity for success that they need to work hard to achieve. To add a personal account to this story, I arrived at a school 3 years ago and significantly changed the way students were taught physics to a way that put more responsibility on the students to learn. This lead to a massive improvement in results at the school and overall in terms of improving students as learners which was great. How did the students react? The school was flooded with complaints from parents!?!?!

This is one part of education I will never wrap my head around. We all know as practitioners that to deliver effective learning, students must be engaged and an active part of their own learning but when this is actually delivered students / parents act against it, as they have (falsely) been lead to believe that teacher are supposed to deliverer learning neatly packaged into learners heads.

Ok, rant over, back to the original question.

Should we be doing interventions? In lessons: YES! Absolutely, that is our responsibility as teachers to identify students that are struggling with concepts and address it. In evenings / holidays: NO! Absolutely not. Students have been given a fantastic opportunity in lessons and in resources e.g. textbooks / revision guides / internet to learn and it is frankly ridiculous, the number of opportunities to make use of the professional there to help them (also known as a teacher). It should be clearly communicated to them that in addition to that it is their responsibility to play they part too and the best we to do that is cancel intervention sessions which basically say to the student, it is ok to check out of your education for weeks / terms / years, we will bail you out at the end.

Categorised as: Curriculum | G Post


  1. Andy McHugh says:

    Interventions take the students away from directing their own study. They come to rely on extra timetables lessons. It adds unnecessary workload to teachers and as far as I can see, it rarely makes a difference to most students. The payoff isn’t worth the energy put in, when that energy could be put to far better use planning lessons or giving feedback.

    • Sam says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Students now expect to be bailed out rather than actively doing things for themselves

  2. Sarah Weyell says:

    Interesting. My 16yo boy planned all his revision but is now frustrated at how much he has to be in school between exams, lunchtime and hol at interventions. Is study leave a thing of the past?

    • Sam says:

      Study leave is an interesting one. There were some education studies done about 5 years ago that showed for lower performing students, study leave actively hinders their exam performance. Since schools are judged by these students as they tend to be B/C borderline, most schools now do not give study leave for this reason.

      It is very tempting to ask at this point why can’t some students have it / others not. As a teacher, that system sounds like an administration headache! So I understand why schools don’t!

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