What about SATS?

The question I have asked, and been asked so many times is this:

What is the point of SATS?

Quite simply, there is no point of SATS.

SATS do not help pupils one iota, the pressure they cause has led to anxiety and stress for children who do not need it. SATS are used by the government to see how a school is doing and that is it, no more no less. So now the National curriculum tests for seven-year-olds in England are being scrapped, the Government confirmed yesterday. Instead, children will be assessed when they first enter primary school so their progress can be measured when they leave aged 11 which many school already do to help with streaming. Of course they could always look at the mountain of data that teachers have to give but that would be just far too easy.SATS (1).png
The axing of Year Two SATs follows campaigning by teaching unions and parent groups, who argued that children were being ‘over-tested and over-worked’ and quite rightly too. We currently have an education system that is run by people who have absolutely no experience and qualifications, the irony of it is laughable.

Instead, the Department for Education said a new ‘teacher-mediated assessment’ will be introduced in the reception year – for pupils aged four and five – from 2020 which quite frankly is ridiculous.

And the controversial Key Stage One tests and assessments will become non-compulsory three years later, so a great waste of time and money as many schools will drop this nonsense as soon as possible.

In a further change, youngsters will sit a new times tables check in Year Four – rather than in Year Six as originally planned by Ministers – from 2019-20…which most schools already do.

The Education Secretary Justine Greening, who is a trained accountant with no experience in Education whatsoever said yesterday: ‘A good primary education lays the foundations for success at secondary school and beyond. Our reforms are starting to raise standards and these changes will free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way.’

That remains to be seen, many of the teachers have ridiculous amounts of work leading to a 50 to 60 hour week for which they have been stuck on 1% pay rise for the last 7 years.

The Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign said the assessments were sapping ‘children’s happiness and joy of learning’ because schools were focusing too much on the tests and I tend to agree having seen children in tears because of the pressure on them to do well.

SATS do not count for anything when it comes to streaming or places at secondary schools and I for one will be glad to see them all go and to have a government that listens to head teachers who have the experience that this government clearly does not have.

 

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The anonymous teacher…

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the anonymous teacher….

This was on the TES site…it is of course an exaggeration (well some of it) but it is important that you understand the problems that teachers and schools are facing with the current government.

The amount of work (an average of 50/60 hours a week) and pressure of form filling and everything takes it toll.

A teachers career now last 5 years on average, this is something we should be very concerned about.

This teacher is waking in a cold sweat at the thought of starting another school year within the same old education system.

You dream that you are trapped in a failing education system where you are under appreciated and the government keeps moving the goal posts, while the kids misbehave and the parents are abusive and unsupportive.

The face of the principal keeps changing, as does the school’s name and uniform.

One by one the rest of the staff disappears under cost-saving redundancy measures, as more and more kids keep appearing in your class. Luckily, you are distracted by the mountain of last-minute emails and piles of urgent new paperwork. Meanwhile, all your lesson planning is washed away in the crashing wave of yet another new syllabus, at the same time that your students are required to take part in another subject’s catch-up session.

A snap inspection

You frantically search and search, but can never find the staff room. You are really thirsty and desperate for a hot drink. But there is no milk. No cups. No tea bags and no coffee. You find the teaspoon to be so filthy that it sticks to the table no matter how hard you try to lift it. Perhaps you can get a drink from the canteen, you think excitedly. You have a crisp five-pound note, but the cashless catering system switched to a new online-only system over the holidays, and the internet is down again.

Suddenly it starts raining very hard – as the fire alarm goes off. You end up standing in the rain for your entire tea break as the fire drill goes rather badly. The smaller children from the shoeless learning initiative are complaining loudly that their socks are soaking and their feet are cold. The caretaker seems unable to reset the alarm system.

Just then, a large black limo splashes up. Out step five identical Agent Smiths. It’s a snap Ofsted inspection. One walks up to you with a clipboard and demands to see your books. You try to explain that you’re not allowed inside because of the fire drill and that your books are there, but he just sneers, ticks the box marked “no evidence of marking found” and begins to move off to do the same to one of your few remaining colleagues. You try to protest, but the agent informs you, “You can’t challenge Ofsted’s findings”. The agent walks off laughing, in that sinister Agent Smith way…

‘Negative attitude’

A hush descends over the fire drill as the caretaker finally gets the fire bell to stop. The new, “new principal” announces that because of an administrative error, no one has been notified that there is a mandatory two-hour staff meeting after school tonight. When you point out that it will clash with tonight’s CPD session, the parents’ evening, a major school trip, the Ofsted inspection, a sports fixture and the school play, so no one is free to attend the meeting, you are then loudly and publicly castigated for your negative attitude. All the rain-slicked kids are staring at you and the principal with their mouths open in shock. Luckily, it is raining so hard by this point that it is impossible for them to see your tears. 

You wake up in a cold sweat and your heart is beating so fast that it feels like it’ll fly out of your chest at any second. It’s 4.30am. You are feeling much, much more tired now than when you went to bed. You really want to go back to sleep, but your body is not cooperating. Your first day of the school year is here, and the inset session that will “explain” the new syllabus and how you are expected to deliver it starts in less than four hours…

The writer works at an all-through school in the south of England.

Teachers…?

what_is_creative_teaching-e1433788418645.jpegTeachers, I have worked with a fair few over the years and have seen many more in action.

I currently work closely with 8 teachers, most Teaching Assistants won’t but that is part of my afternoon role as an IT Technician.

Teacher are of course are human, that is to say they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are good and some are not, some have a great deal of experience and some are newly qualified and most, in my experience are lovely and I am sure they would say the same about Teaching Assistants.

As a potential teaching assistant there are things you need to be aware of:

  • The Teacher is one of your managers and will supervise your work.
  • The Teacher needs to know what you say you are going to do you will do.
  • The Teacher makes the class decisions, you can makes suggestions but the decision is not yours, so if you have a great idea and it isn’t needed…let it go.
  • The Teacher may well have a bad day or two and hopefully will tell you when they are. My suggestion is to try and support them as best you can.
  • The Teacher will work an average of 50-60 days, will be tired, fed up, irritable and the work will pile up. The current government knows this but do little to help. Again my suggestion is to try and support them as best you can, however do not take on work that is the teachers, not yours. If you feel like that is happening speak to your manager.
  • The Teacher and the Teaching Assistant are a team. Try and work well together.
  • Any questions about any children discreetly speak to your teacher.
  • Any issues with children always tell your teacher.
  • Any problems with your teacher talk to them first and if it is not resolved speak only to your line manager.
  • Try and stay positive this will help your teacher more than you can imagine.

Something to consider.

A good experience:

The teacher I have worked with for the last two years is a wonderful teacher, experienced  and we had a lot of fun as well as the inevitable class problems. Within our class we dealt with special needs, classroom behaviour, death, bullying, playground injuries and a variety of other things.

A bad experience:

A teacher at another school would not talk to me and would not look at me when I was in the classroom. In the end I actually asked if she liked me because I felt I was being treated quite badly. She said she did but nothing changed so in this instance I could only believe the issue was her and her alone.

She is not longer a full time teacher.

So there is a bit of pot luck but on the whole I have had only positive experiences.