I’ve got an eleven year old in final year of primary school and Ofsted are ruining his education.
Next week is SATS week.
In that week children of the same age all around the country will be tested on how well they understand the basics of English and Maths.
There are papers to be sat, and most will be sitting just the level 5 papers, and the more able will also be sitting the level 6 papers.
What people say is happening
Level 6 testing was brought in to final year primary school stop the more able kids just cruising the final year. Says the Internet. This level is actually to be reached in 4 years time.
What is actually happening.
I’ve looked at the level 6 papers, and they’re hard. I’ve got a law degree, and write for a living and for fun, and even then I have to double check how to spell one of my most used words, bureaucracy. This is a word that 11 year olds will be tested on! It is so used and misspelled by me that I have it written on a post it and stuck up next to my desk at work.
Next year they go to high school. In their first year they’ll be tested and observed and the teachers will come to their own opinion on what level the child is working at and they’ll be placed in the class that’s right for them. What happens this year, in terms of exam results, is minor league verging on ignored.
These exams are not for the pupils. They are for the headteachers, the Local education authorities, Ofsted and ultimately the government. They are of no earthly use to an 11 year old.
If, like most things that happen in school, it floated over their heads and they didn’t notice, I wouldn’t care.
But I have a friend of my child sitting downstairs as I type this, on the verge of tears because his mum is making him work his guts out for a meaningless test that will have no effect on his education.
Both the kids downstairs are able, and have been entered for level 6 papers. For the last year they’ve been going into school 30 minutes earlier to attend a special maths class. Teachers have been handing out old papers to do at home, lists of spelling words that come up are memorised.
Like an idiot, without thinking why, and because everyone else was, I joined in.
Papers have been sat at home on a Sunday, timetables drawn up of things to do and memorise.
Thankfully, because I’m quite lacklustre at being consistent, it regularly was forgotten about.
But the SATS themselves haven’t been. They loom over all 11 year olds and ruin what should be fun, their last year of primary school, and of being young children.
According to the stats, and the stats rule all in education, between 1 and 2 children get a level 6 at my kids school each year. I know who those will probably be, literally their names. The 8 or so others seem to have been thrown at the test paper like Field Marshall Haig throwing soldiers at the guns, and with as much chance of surviving them too. But who knows, perhaps they will. But they won’t.
I think the idea of giving kid stretching work is fine. But not to test them, not to build an entire year around it, not to create an environment where the most able are reduced to tears by their stressed parents who don’t know that this is purely for the league tables and the vultures who pick over them.
I know that really level 6 testing is NOT to stop the most able from cruising. If this were so then after next week kids wouldnt suddenly be dropping everyhting and going on holidays to London, days out to the theatre etc. This shows me that it is the TEST that level 6 is for, not the child. For the league tables.
I know that these level 6 papers are filthy. Ridiculous and appaling. But I was duped. I work in performance management and saw through it, I blog about it. But I was duped about these things along with everybody else. These papers cannot help in any way with my childs education or love of learning. They can only turn him off with a focus on test scores and on attainment, not on learning something because it is interesting or fun.
Starting right now, I’m telling him I don’t give a monkeys what he gets in the test, that he shouldn’t stress as nobody else will care either, apart from the Head and her career prospects.
I have no idea whether the teachers have similarly seen through it all. They may have done. But there is seeing through it, and then there is knowing what purpose is. There are plenty of people who work in performance management and similarly useless professions who have seen through it and know its pointless but don’t care and don’t see the moral imperative to care, the same could be so with the Head I don’t know.
What I do know is I hate Ofsted and their ongoing mission to ruin childrens education and love of learning.