Tuesday 10 May 2016


It's on the news, it's all we chat about at work. There's no escape. Sigh.

Yet again, I'm blogging about the futility of these sodding tests for the little group of children I work with. The Reading Test was yesterday. I can't share questions or texts with you yet, but it was, in my opinion, very hard. The three texts were super wordy with vocabulary your bog standard Y6 poppet would neither use or understand. The questions were, I think, written extremely ambiguously. The usual ( old style ) L3 simple retrieval questions were absent. These questions gave confidence to the children in my group because they knew they could answer them! Bear in mind, I do work with the children who have made massive progress at our school, yet due to certain issues out of their control they will not reach the Year Six standard for some years, if ever. The Government will fail teachers who do not differentiate work and cater to each and every individual child in their classes. Indeed, their tests do not. How fair is this? 

The child who causes me to smile everyday, and you too sometimes, if I share snippets of our conversation, was a non reader when they arrived at our school in Year 4. Add to this the fact they have an Autistic Spectrum diagnosis. You can see that everyday is challenging before they even get to school. Thanks to the hard work of the staff at our school ( and me last year who listened to them read. Every. Single. Day even though they hated it and resisted at every turn ) this child is now reading books independently. Yes, these books are aimed at those with a reading age a few years below where we'd expect a Y5/6 child to be, however, to go for a non reader to these in a few short 18 months or so, purely in school time only ( home life is tough, not a book in the house ) is massive progress and is to be applauded and celebrated. These tests will say otherwise. 

This child was almost in tears yesterday as they sat staring at the giant chunks of text, saying to me  "It's too hard, I can't do this." All I could do was reply that I knew, but let's keep going and give it a try. 
The cleverest child by far, in our class, who is lucky to find the work comes easy and is naturally academic, declared the test yesterday, really hard. Thanks to the huge amount of work we've done on Building Learning Power and resilience, no child gave up. We've stopped namby pambying them. They are praised less and only for effort. Hard work is celebrated. We don't sticker them up to the eye balls for every little thing. They go into the learning pit. They understand how they are learning now. They don't give up. They know they have to work hard to get noticed. It's stopped a lot of low level disruption and a lot of the Little Prince/Princess syndrome kids! You know, the ones who rule the roost at home and are just little brats! They know their place and the adults have regained 'control' in school. What we say, goes. End of. I make it sound a bit 'North Korean'! But I assure you it really isn't a dictatorship! Sure, we will listen and consider. But ultimately, we have the last say. The children like this. They feel safe, secure and the boundaries are now strong. It's a great school to work in. On the whole, the children are polite and respectful. Ask any of them! Our Y6 were interviewed about the SATs and the visiting journalist commented on how mature and articulate they were and how well behaved they were. I'm proud to work at my school and I'm super proud of our children. 
Then we go and spoil it all by making them sit these tests! 

Today is the much talked about SPAG test. Good luck kids. It'll soon be Friday and AFTER SATs PARTY! Then they can go back to being children that learn interesting things at school. Because believe me, modal verbs, fronted adverbials and subordinating conjunctions are not interesting at all. 

Of course, I do agree with children being assessed and they should be able to demonstrate their progress in tests etc. in Y6. But because of the way the Government keep meddling and changing the curriculum and changing the standards and how they are reported, it's getting impossible to justify it. We all knew where we were with the Levels. The children knew and were happy. 

The message we have given to our Y6 class is do your best and do not worry about what the results are, because they do not matter! If Ofstead is triggered by our 'poor' score and position in a league table, we say bring it on. We were judged to be a good school with some outstanding features in our last report. We didn't blink an eye. We know what we do, makes a difference and every child is celebrated as a success. 

We are opening the classroom early every day this week for toast and juice and guided mediation for the nervous ones, who despite all that we tell them, are nervous and hate the pressure. Some are non plussed and some are relishing the challenge and chance to show off! 

Ooo I'm getting a bit rantypants up here on my soap box! I wouldn't get this stressed working in Marks n Spencer's and I'd get staff discount......

Lots of love from 

Rachel *knows what the past progressive is, do you?* Radiostar xxx 


  1. When I retired 9 years ago I was 30 days short in my actuarial reduced pension. These days were lost in the early nineties here in Scotland because many teachers, who knew that the government were wrong, refused to administer tests at P4 and P7. As I was a DHT at the time, I also received a letter each time telling me that I was in serious breach of my contract with the education authority. Although I taught as normal on those days,
    I was "deemed" to be absent. The government needs to start trusting the people involved in young people's education and get off there backs and let them do what they do very well i.e. Make a difference to children's life chances. Rant over. Catriona

    1. That's disgusting Catriona. I wish that the Teachers would call to arms and really wage war on these people who know nothing, try to control what we do day in day out. Gets my dander up!! X

  2. I have absolutely nothing to add - well said!
    J x

    1. Aww thank you Joy, and thanks for not pointing out my grammatical errors ( now hastily edited! )

  3. Hmmmm, past progressive. BINGO... That's when you are trawling blindly through a shop and suddenly stop to take a step backwards because you nearly missed a shining gem. In truth has the government ever understood what anyone needs, have they ever, as individuals, sat in with a class of average students. I could easily join you on that soap box, I am truly grateful that Junior and Kaitlyn are at a school with wonderful staff and are happy to learn.

  4. Setting harder SATs will not improve standards. It's bonkers. Easier removal of troubled pupils to specialised units, enabling the teacher to teach and the rest of the class can learn uninterrupted will improve standards for ALL children , troubled souls included. And by troubled souls I mean the ones with the outrageously bad behaviour who are dangerous to themselves, their classmates and the staff.

  5. Brilliantly said Rachel. Lily is only just starting out on her learning journey and I can't help but worry about what's instore. Already, we are awaiting an assesment due to 'concerns'. I just hope that when the time comes for her to go to school she will be amongst people like yourself who put the childrens needs first. You do a fantastic job. X

  6. I have a friend whose daughter is going through the year 6 sats at the moment so I know a bit more than I might have done otherwise and I have been truly shocked at what her daughter has been having to do. The school had the year 6 pupils in over half term and the Easter holidays (I feel sorry for the staff too) and had the year sixes staying late three days a week for extra classes since Feb. I don't agree with what the school were doing but I understand the pressure the school is under to get good results. There are no winners here. Well done you for helping your class through this rough time.

  7. When the children have test, they are taught so they can pass the test. That's not a broad spectrum of topics, my grandson is doing test and he's worried, he should be OK, but he is still worried. For goodness sake they are children.

  8. It's just so frustrating and demoralising for teachers and pupils. I dread to think what Thomas will be like next year, although at the first sign of added pressure from school I'll be going in and saying "don't bother him because I won't be sending him in the week of the tests anyway". That's how strongly I feel about if affecting kids, especially mine.

    I noticed MMC's comment about extra lessons. It's bad enough not being able to take children out of school for a holiday let alone lessons being scheduled into their holidays as well.

    I agree with what you say about disruptive/dangerous pupils as well. I've no idea why they're embraced into main stream schools. I've witnessed a pupil kicking and punching a teacher repeatedly while other staff where trying to restrain him in the appropriate manner, making sure he didn't get hurt! And the bloody paperwork that followed afterwards about whether the child was handled was ridiculous. His punishment was 2 days exclusion, and that was after his mother decided she could only collect him at the end of the day as normal even though she didn't work.

    The whole thing makes my blood boil. And no I don't know what past progressive is, but I don't think it's held me back in any way whatsoever! xx

  9. I can only imagine what you and the children go through, but I can tell that you are doing great work with them! Whatever the tests say, well done!

  10. ha! I've just left a comment on your most recent post, then I went back to see what I've missed, read this and laughed when I saw your advice to the kids. It's exactly what I've already said to Violet about the stupid SATS next year. Do your best, don't worry.

    It's good to know there are teachers like you. Who care, and see that kids are just that. Not little robots. Have to say I've been studying the faces of Y6 this week, and happy to report that none of them looked too upset or worried. That's such a relief. Poor little sods. They have a lifetime of pressure, for the Love of God, let them enjoy being young. I don't know why, but this government seems to hate children and young people. I swear, if they could get them up chimneys again they'd do it. Swines.


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