In 2013, Sir Michael Wilshaw, [chief Ofsted Inspector, highlighted the issue of unseen children](http://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/unseen-children/). He spoke of unseen children as the children that are “labelled, buried in lower sets, consigned as often as not to indifferent teaching.” Wilshaw emphasised the unsatisfactory efforts of, “mediocre schools the length and breadth of our country.” Currently, with all schools experiencing severe budget cuts, large class sizes and the unthinkable redundancy of staff, unseen children face even more threat than before. The unseen children are just one of a plethora of challenges for teachers in the classroom. So, how do you spot unseen children in order to unlock their potential? ## Who are the ‘unseen children’? These children are often very quiet; they come to school regularly; if they can, they will sit at the back of the class, unassuming. They don’t cause trouble and rarely if ever, raise their head above the parapet to share ideas. They usually aren’t failing, but they don’t excel either. They are the sort of child who appears to make satisfactory progress and teachers and parents are content that they are doing “okay.” In truth, they are the students that have very real, untapped ability that will never be known to their teacher, and worse themselves, because they have never been challenged to demonstrate it. ## A problem solved We asked Pat May, a primary teacher who taught in deprived areas of Blackpool for 16 years, about how LbQ can be used to shine a light on unseen children. “I went into primary teaching because I wanted to help provide the best start in life for children, to provide them with the right building blocks to be successful in life. But time pressures, as a result of budget cuts, grew and grew.” “You want to be able to spend time with each and every child, every day. Any issues with behaviour, any unexpected changes to the day takes away from time spent with individual students. Inevitably, it is the quiet, unassuming children who get missed, who coast through education never meeting their true potential and that is just not acceptable.” “When you work in schools in deprived areas, the ability to unlock potential becomes imperative, but added pressure doesn’t make a difference to a single teacher’s ability to get around a class.” “LbQ provides an opportunity. An opportunity for the quiet, unassuming child to demonstrate their true ability without the worry that their intelligence will be mocked and without the fear of being wrong.” ## Using LbQ LbQ gives teachers immediate insight into the progression of their pupils in real time, rather than assessing progress when marking books at a later time. In addition, the structured feedback coupled with children’s understanding of how they are progressing without the rest of the class knowing enables nervous and hesitant children to take a risk: to be wrong and be corrected without a dent to their self-esteem. May continues, “Those hidden children now have a chance to shine. I have witnessed a ‘difficult’, underachieving secondary school child in a lower ability set use LbQ to highlight their true ability to doubting adults in the classroom. The class teacher called for the maths lead, who called for the deputy head. Soon, the room was filled with senior leaders who looked at the results dashboard in disbelief; the child was moved to a higher ability set the following day. The light had been shined on that pupil resulting in a lasting difference to the future of that child.” If you would like to know more about how LbQ can shine a light on your unseen children, come and visit Pat May and the rest of us at [LbQ at BETT](http://www.bettshow.com/bett-suppliers-list/learning-by-questions-limited/), Stand F160 from the 24th January to the 27th January 2019.