It's rare for me to post about things outside of my bubble, and I guess this is sort of both inside and outside, but seriously UK government and Michael Twatface, what the fuck are you trying to do???
Today I received an email from school about school reports. One comes home each year, the basic "You'll get your report on x day, if you want to talk about it then let us know, otherwise just send back the slip." This year, however, it is different. This year is a warning letter, to give you an idea, here is an excerpt:
So, in this first year of adapting our practice, we at Hill View School have adopted the
Government’s ‘secure fit’ assessment approach - this means a teacher can only assess a child as ‘working at’ if they have met every single learning objective for their year group, and all previous year groups’ objectives, listed in the 2014 National Curriculum. In previous years, teachers used a ‘best fit’ judgement, meaning that if a child had met the majority of their learning goals they could be assessed as working at their year group’s expected standard. A ‘secure fit’ assessment can lead to a judgement that makes a child look far less successful than the sum of their achievements.
It has been going this way for years, but now utterly gone are the days of looking at a child amongst his peers and seeing if they are all at a similar level. Gone are the days of understanding that she can do extremely hard maths, but that telling the time is just something that she will never grasp.
What are they doing to our children? By they, I don't mean the teachers, I mean the ones making the decisions. I also mean the voters, the people who voted for whatever would make their lives better without looking at who would be destroyed, without caring that our children would be the ones to have to live with it.
I am not against testing, I am a grammar school child and thrive on tests! I understand that not everyone does, but also that coursework based can suck for some people too.
What I am against is no leeway. Our children are not names, they are numbers. I look at my babies...
I have B. Clever, funny, quirky. On the whole "do they know everything from this list" situation, she probably fares quite well. But she can't write. It is a physical issue, one that is acknowledged in as much as "yeah her work is a mess" but that is all. She doesn't get extra time allowances for exams. She is 13 and has been worrying since 11 about how she will cope with GCSEs when she can't write easily enough to complete things in a time frame. She worries about her grades. She came home telling me she got a U in maths, and I was shocked and asked what happened. It then transpired that she was doing GCSE level papers as standard for her set in yr 8 maths. Shockingly, she hasn't learnt 5 years worth of maths yet... She doesn't do low grades. She works hard and prides herself on her marks. This led her to believing that she is terrible at maths and should drop down into a lower set.
I have Dude. My intelligent, sensitive, brilliant, kind Dude. Give him maths, there's no calculations, the answers are just there. Ask him to dictate something to do, and it is incredible, language well above what you would expect of a ten year old, understanding of many things far better than myself. But give him that same maths written down and make him do it in writing in a time limit - it doesn't work. Make him write down what he had no issue creating to dictate - it's gone. Then you add in that his reading took a while to "click", so whilst he was still desperately trying to understand how to read, the others were learning the building blocks of spellings. He has now missed that stage, so struggles with spelling. That will always, in this new system, count as him never being at his target level, as those year 1 and 2 tick boxes will remain empty. The tests they do to see if something is "wrong" with him (to try to explain why it gets lost between brain and paper, and help with easing it) don't work for him though as he is too intelligent. They only work if you haven't learnt strategies to drag yourself through to the average level. His teachers SEE it, but there is nothing they can do as he is "within normal levels". He knows he is intelligent. He knows he is capable of far more than he can get out of him. This has turned my bright ball of energy into a small boy lacking any self belief. I have seen him disappear before my eyes. He wants to take the 11+ as he knows he has the knowledge in him, but I know how it will end as he has never been able to get the help to get through.
I have Strawb. So so bright, bouncy, confident. I'm scared. As she is at the moment, she's fine. She's very much me in as much as tests are no issue for her. She learnt to read and ran with it. She's clever but doesn't actually notice it, it's her normal. What is to come though? What if remembering a book bag every day becomes a tick box? What if going off on a tangent becomes even more of an issue? Will I see her disappear like Dude? Will I see her crushed beyond recognition?
Children are getting SATs results back. Results saying they have "failed". The government is talking about them retaking them in yr 7. I have spent years telling my children to ignore what schools tell them, that SATs mean nothing to their lives, and any secondary school will place them based on what they see in person anyway. Now if there is a pass/fail for it, if it becomes on the surface about children's results and not as it truly is about how the schools are obeying the rules, they will get even more pressure and worry. Lose even more childhood.
We are children for such a brief time, and it is getting less every day. Why can't we teach them information, but also show them that all their skills matter. I'm not against competitive sports days for that reason - some of those who can't read or do maths can excel in sports, give them that time to shine. The same with art, drama, music. Everyone will shine if they are under the right light. Anyone who can see their own shine can throw their light on others so that they shine too. Just turn on all the lights. Let everyone have the chance to shine.