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