Every year, around this time, I have to make a ‘final’ decision for year 6 teacher assessments. I assume these are reported out to government somewhere, though they might just go on record and hang about until OFSTED decide to visit and scrutinise everything with their beady eyes. I also say ‘final’ using inverted commas because, whilst this really is the last official piece of assessment I’ll do for the year 6s, there are still 4 weeks left. It’s not truly final… there are 4 weeks left. We don’t just sit and twiddle thumbs in this time – progress can still be made. There are 4 whole weeks left!
This year has been particularly interesting and I find myself scratching my head furiously over this set of assessments, more so than either of the two sets of year 6s I’ve sent off before. Back in September, we had little to no idea how assessment would look at the end of the year. Thankfully, we have a pretty good system in place for their day-to-day assessments, but their final set has to be based off the interim assessments. I link to that not to encourage you to get your head around what a year 6 pupil apparently should know, but out of interest for anyone who wants to see the ridiculousness that is teacher assessment.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this week, you’ll have noticed that the SATs for 10 and 11 year-olds across the country has made the news. At least, that is, if you’re an educator. If you’re not, and you’ve stumbled across this innocently clicking my links through Facebook or something, I can only apologise for embroiling you in what is a total shambles of a system (it’s too late to turn back now, you have to read on!).
It is, by the way, a total failure and mockery of our education system. And I say that with utter conviction. Testing children isn’t something I’ve ever been a fan of, but I find myself growing more and more cynical each and every time the subject of standardised assessments (tests) is brought up. With good reason too.
Let’s start with the idea of turning all Local Authority (LA) schools into academies. Without going into the whole host of reasons that I don’t think this to be the right step forwards, the link to SATs is interesting. Failing schools are forced to turn into academies. Schools which perform less-favourably in the year 6 SATs are called into question when OFSTED come knocking – almost like a preconceived idea that, because the data has been ‘bad’, the teaching must be terrible. Everyone knows not all children perform well on tests. I’ve been fortunate enough to teach some of the brightest, hard-working, and enthusiastic children who performed above and beyond when in the comfortable classroom environment… and then absolutely flopped in the test due to worry and stress (and I try as much as I can to not pass that on to the children). Though, the curriculum has been made more tricky, the SATs more so, and doesn’t that set children up to fail? Is this just a ploy to force all the remaining Local Authority schools into academies by almost automatically deeming them unsuitable?