SATs…SATs…SATs ( rolling eye and a massive sigh)

keep-calm-and-don-t-panic-it-s-just-the-sats

“SATs, huh, good god
What are they good for
Absolutely nothing, Say it again”

                                                                                                         My new Karaoke Anthem.

Actually that’s wrong. Well designed assessment at the end of phases of education should be incredibly useful. Assessment that supports a childs transition from one phase to the next and supports the next teacher or school in getting it right for the pupils. Assessment that clearly passes on information about what a child can and can’t do and the next steps.

Sadly SATs does none of those things. SATs are a measure of schools not pupils, the pupils seem to be the least important aspect of the process. Most secondary schools will say “Well they aren’t there now!” when they look at a pupils SATs results. Undoubtedly that’s true in the same way that if my son had taken his GCSE’s in September he would definitely have not got the grades he got in May.

Many schools feel they are being driven to prep…prep…prep for the test.  Some schools going as far as to say that they’ll be doing weekly SATs tests to parents as if it’s a good thing.  The high stakes nature of the tests is equally driving a narrowing of school curriculum. I firmly believe that if you stop teaching children stuff and narrow your curriculum then actually you’ll damage children’s chances of achieving in the Reading test as it is currently designed.

I applaud Ofsted and Amanda Spielman when they talk about curriculum. I also know as a school in challenging circumstances rightly or wrongly the dice are stacked against us with regards to Ofsted, it is a fact that a greater percentage of schools with challenging catchments are rated  ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’. Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees when you’re staring down the barrel of a data shotgun.

Now don’t mistake this for me being anti-SATs or testing because I’m not. Don’t think this is me making excuses for low expectations because I’m not. My school was well above national last year and will be in line this year. We believe children should be Literate and Numerate they are core to what we do in our school.

What I am sick of is the sham that has been Assessment for the past 2 years at the end of KS2. I won’t rant about it here I’ve already ranted enough about Writing and the Interim Assessment Framework (ITAF). I won’t use the word cheating with regards to this but I think we can agree not all schools are playing the same game or in some cases even on the same field.  That’s before I even get going on the impact it’s having on writing. Some schools are not even getting the same guidance.

Here are my previous Writing rants.

Writing…Honestly, we need honesty.

#whatawritemess – Independence and honesty.

honest

This year to add to what can only be described as the absolute shambles that the new SATs have been we have the marking of KS2 SATs, especially the GPS paper.  That many teacher’s and headteachers have spent their valuable weekend time  looking to see if their pupil’s papers have been marked correctly is frankly appalling. The biggest issue is the inconsistency of the marking and the pernickity-ness (I like that word) of the mark scheme.

This is before we even get to the car-crash that will be “2020 SATs and the impossibility of progress” (not keen on the new Harry potter book)

The Independent Assessment review group set up by the NAHT suggested some interesting ways forward both on testing but also on the idea of high-stakes accountability. Sadly I don’t think many have read it. I think its worth a read. Their six guiding principles may give us a start point for getting it right.

Redressing the balance – Assessment Review Group 2017

  1. Assessment is at the core of good teaching and learning
  2. Statutory assessment should be separated from ongoing
    assessment that happens in the classroom
  3. Data from statutory assessment will never tell you the whole
    story of school effectiveness
  4. The statutory assessment system should be accessible to
    pupils of all abilities and recognise their progress
  5. Progress should be valued over attainment in
    statutory assessment
  6. The number of statutory assessments in the primary phase
    should be minimised

So I don’t really have any solutions to this mess but I know we need to stop and rethink. We are currently heading down a blind alley and we need to admit it’s wrong and do something about it.

We need this to be the key question

“How can we make statutory assessment help children on their learning journey?”

It seems sadly the children’s learning part has been completely forgotten.

Perspective…Step back and take another look

crash-comic-word-wording-speech-bubble-pop-art-style-burst-background-47728501

“Here you go
Way too fast
Don’t slow down
Gonna crash
You should watch
Watch your step
Don’t lookout
Gonna break your neck”

Primitives Crash

 

This is a short blog about moments.

Just over a two weeks ago I had a moment. I don’t remember a lot of the moment. I remember a bang. I remember smoke.  Then the next four hours are a blur. There have been tears, lots of tears. There has been an inordinate amount of hugging. Small car vs 40 ton lorry led to only one winner.

It did however make me stop and think. It also did the brilliant thing of putting front and center the important stuff. I wouldn’t recommend it as a way of finding perspective but it definitely has done just that.

So this blog now will unadulteratedly and unashamedly be a little…well…cheesy.

I was lost on a winding road
I thought that life had nothing left to give
Then you came and showed me that just to live
Was the greatest gift of all?
And you showed me

Life is a celebration
And Lord, I’m gonna celebrate
Don’t you know that life is a celebration?
So come on now and celebrate, celebrate
Life is a celebration

 

The moment has led to perspective.

You forget how the job swallows you…At the end of the day it is just a job.

You think yourself invaluable…The place will carry on.

So as I walk back into school. I look at our SATs results with pride not worry. They’re an honest reflection of the children in that cohort. Did they work their socks off…Yes. Could they have done any more…No. Do they still love learning…Yes. We won’t play the game where we just prepare children for tests. Education is bigger than that. That runs through the core of our school and I will fight tooth and nail to defend that.

Walking on the beach with my boys at the weekend after five days of solid rain. Perfect and precious. The sand whipping across in swirling patterns, the roaring and crashing of the waves. The hugs and laughter.

DDuiquYXsAEDafU

I have some brill friends on twitter, as a group we created  #PID17. That it trended on twitter that day brought us great joy and smiles. Check out the hashtag it’s rather fab and just very silly. Thanks everyone who joined in you reet made me smile.

Perspective is a precious thing. I’ve been jolted back into mine and it feels as though it’s on a slightly different axis to the one it was on before.

I’d say you need to find a balance but in reality there is no such thing. It is a series of ebbs and flows, pushes and pulls. Managing how you deal with that is key. At some points there is no choice and you have embrace and do the thing that needs doing.  Fighting it creates more stress.

Taking time to intentionally be alone – to sit in silence – is an important and essential part of life. For me, it provides perspective and balance.

Books and reading, strumming badly on a guitar, pretending to surf (really just bobbing about on a board), cooking a chilli… Find your thing… Take your moment.

So give the job your all, then walk out the door and make sure you give life your all too. It is just a job, one of the most important jobs perhaps but it is just a job.

Gotta go I’ve got some balancing to do.