Primary Musings

thoughts of an every day teacher

SATs resits and all that rubbish

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Here are three of the best responses I’ve read to the indescribably stupid proposal of making children resit SATs.

Number one is this incredibly moving, beautifully expressed post from @disidealist, teacher, and Father of three beautiful, adopted children, two of whom are unlikely to ‘pass’ their Year 6 SATs.

I’m not a parent, but I have taught lots of children, each a unique person with their own contexts, talents, skills, personality. Like @disidealist, I am tired of having to grind them all through “the same sausage machine” with no regard to whether this is good for the child, or what they really need. I have taught in schools that respond as creatively and compassionately as they can to children in a range of circumstances with a range of needs, and who are doing a brilliant job. But working against this are politicians who think that a child is a “mediocre failure” who will “hold the bright kids back” because they didn’t perform in one test, on one day. It is not only utterly ridiculous, it is morally wrong. What’s more, if Nicky Morgan and David Cameron won’t even answer simple maths questions in a high stakes, high pressure situation for fear of getting it wrong, why on earth should we expect an 11 year old child to do so?

I would also add that these are the very reasons teacher pay should not be linked to results. There are things which affect a child’s performance in tests and ability to learn, such as previous life experiences, bereavement, family breakdown, attachment issues etc, which teachers cannot be in control of. Children aren’t in control of these things either and neither of us should be blamed or penalised for them.

Next is this article from the lovely @debrakidd. The more of this lady I read, the more I like her! It reminds me of the scene in Notting Hill, where Honey says to the famous actress “I genuinely believe, and have believed for some time now that we could be best friends.” That’s how I feel when I read Debra’s stuff. Not cool, I know, sorry Debra! But I’ve never yet seen ‘be cool’ on one of those 5 things to make you a great teacher lists, so maybe it’s ok…

Her latest post is passionate, as usual, and eminently practical too. It addresses a range of issues surrounding implementing and marking tests; impact on the ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum that ‘resit’ children will be offered; and the fact that there is no evidence to show that repeated high stakes testing raises standards anyway. She is right that Year 6 teachers ‘bust a gut to get kids through these tests’ and it’s not like primary teachers in previous years do nothing either! Repeating SATs in year 7 is the definition of crazy: doing the same thing and expecting to get different results. She sensibly points out that ‘literacy comes with immersion and love of language. It doesn’t grow in a test.’

Finally, I read this post by @c_hendrick. While not dealing specifically with SATs resits, it does give an excellent, succinct account of why we shouldn’t restrict judging the success of education by only that which can can be measured, and points out some of the problems that occur when we do. I appreciated the acknowledgement that teaching is a complex, relational enterprise and that the qualities of effective teachers are not easily quantifiable. It was also helpful to have something I know intuitively from the classroom expressed so coherently, with reference to relevant research, from someone who is obviously very well read.

These three articles sum up, for me, what the school system should be: compassionate and creative, workable and intelligent; a place where children are intrinsically valued and supported to thrive.

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