Two minor miracles that made me think maybe our country isn’t going to pot occurred yesterday:
1) I had to go to our local A&E and was in and out in 15 minutes!
2) The SATs results were published!!!
However, on further analysis, the first of these was down purely to luck and good timing. (My injury was a simple one, and I got there after the drunken-nighttime-rush and before the waking-up-and realizing-what-you-did-when-drunk-last-night rush, and was the only patient in the place.)
And the second? Well, what a debacle. They may have been published, but thousands are missing, most people seem to feel that they are inaccurate and (according to the Independent) 90% of teachers do not see them as a true reflection of their pupils’ abilities.
But, instead of fronting up to the fact that those on the front line (yes, the teachers – those people who know a little bit about children and education) are unhappy with the tests and are saying that that they are detrimental to learning, ministers talk about how useful they are in monitoring a school’s effectiveness.
No, what they actually do is stigmatise the schools that are not doing so well, make teachers teach to the test rather than teaching children something useful, make everyone slack off after the tests, demotivate children and give parents a false impression of what is important. I have a friend who chose her daughter’s primary school on the basis of the SATs results being 0.5% better than her most local school. Now, she obviously didn’t get a level 4 in her maths SATs because she just didn’t get it when I suggested that her local school’s results could have been down to one child having a bad day, or to one special needs child who had actually been nurtured and developed really well by her local school.
I have a suggestion (but I have also had a glass of wine this evening, so I may be overstepping the mark): Would the whole world fall apart if schools were to stop teaching to the tests? How about it if schools made a decision to go about the business of doing the very best for their pupils and to actually use Year 6 to continue to teach them something useful. It would be a brave move, but if the government is not going to see sense and find some other method of judging a school’s effectiveness, maybe those people in the know should take the matter into their own hands?