Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. Tis the season for family, festivities and formal assessments! We had our assessment week two weeks before we broke up for the holidays and as such, when we returned it was time to analyse the results. This is the experience of a Year 6 teacher preparing children for the SATs.
As my fellow Year 6 teacher, our TAs and myself sat with the Head and Deputy Head, we knew we had to go in with a plan. There was no where near the proportion of children we wanted at the expected standard for a Year 6 child at this stage in the year. Therefore, because Headteacher’s worry (and I don’t blame them – after all, they are the first point of contact for poor outcomes) we wanted to assure him and our Deputy Head that there is a plan, it is one that worked effectively last year and there is hope in a bleak situation. Isn’t the situation always bleak?
However, there is more to the data that was compiled. Yes indeed, there are a clear number of children who are behind where they should be. Despite this in the Autumn term there was accelerated progress made by the cohort. So the children did really well, but they still need much more progress.
However, targets were set, plans were made and there it was – these targets would project the cohort to achieve more than last year’s cohort. How is this so? Because we are going to see children make the progress they are expected to make in one whole year or more happen in over a term and a bit…logical right?
Now, do not presume I am insinuating that other Years and Phases are able to slack whilst Year 6 catch up on the progress that should have happened. I have a profound respect for practitioners in every Key Stage, particularly staff from EYFS. I spent 6 weeks of my teacher training in Reception and I went in wondering what I would learn considering I had pretty much had my heart set on teaching in Key Stage 2. I left amazed. The skill and knowledge it takes to build understanding in children who just want to play is exhausting and challenging work. I can’t believe the things that EYFS practitioners manage and this respect extends to all colleagues. However, what I am saying is that there is pressure that comes naturally to the staff working with children at the end of their national assessment cycle – in this case Year 6 staff.
Pressure is on everyone: the government, local authorities, Headteachers, Senior Leadership Teams, teachers and the children themselves. Due to this undeniable pressure there is pushing for what can only be described as miracles – terms and terms of progress hoping to be made in just over a term. So what happens? Teachers and children practise. They practise exam techniques, they practise test-style questions. The result. More children reaching the expected standard at the end of KS2.
How does this translate over into KS3? Do children have the deeper knowledge that is hoped for at the end of KS2? Of course not. But they have the label of expected. So that’s what’s important…right?
Year 6 teacher rant over.