Should there be Key Stage 2 Resits? Part 1 | @labourteachers

Partly because of the extraordinary reaction on Twitter, and partly as an experiment, I asked people yesterday to send their reactions to the Conservative Party’s suggestion that students who “failed” their Key Stage 2 tests resit them in year 7. I did not specify that everyone had to be a Labour Party supporter, so please don’t assume all contributors are. Here are some of the responses, more to follow later.

Jo Webb. @JoWebbTeach English teacher and Vice Principal based in the midlands:

JoWebb

I am proud to work in an urban secondary school with a truly comprehensive intake. Our lowest ability students do not come to us with a level 4 but  we offer a tailored curriculum which includes a fair bit of extra English and Maths, fantastic teaching from teachers who know students very well, and a big focus on inclusion and pastoral care. And you know what, these students thrive. So, fast forward to 2016 under the Tories and  some of these students  would be set up for secondary never ready failure. Following the narrowed curriculum of Year 6, we will be faced with the unnecessary task of trying not to teach to a test  in Year 7 which is yet another stick to beat the truly comprehensive schools with. Unsurprisingly, we don’t need extra tests – we do manage to assess students accurately ourselves.

Chocotzar. @ChocoTzar Secondary headteacher, married with children, and a lifelong Labour Party member:

BunnyI’ve always thought that SATs were an artificial measure of what children have learnt. Primaries spend a lot of time preparing children for them; some primaries OVER prepare, reducing the Y6 curriculum down to test readiness. Some children will simply not reach L4 at the end of Y6: those with special needs, those with English as an additional language, those simply no good at tests. This is ok, honestly. Not all children are the same. I’m a headteacher. I’m not going to force these children to resit tests. I’m going to teach them and help them make progress. They’re not failures and I’m not going to do anything that might switch them off or make them feel rubbish.

Charlotte Wilde. Head of Science, who has worked in both the state and independent sector:

IMG_0676After doing away with levels and introducing a point system for secondary levels, what would be the point of resits? Are we going to move their GCSEs a year later or be expected to get their GCSE grades on their resit? What will primary education actually be responsible for and how will they be benchmarked? Seems that only the secondary system will be held accountable for the whole of a child’s education. In my subject (science) that’s laughable especially when most primary teachers are not specialists and opt to do three science focus days per year.

Naureen Khalid. Mother of three, with two still in secondary equation. She has no political affiliation. 

Pic for articleIf I had a child who was going to be starting secondary school in the near future I would have many questions running through my mind just now. I’ve listed these below in no particular order.

1. What would happen to my child if he/she fails the test again?

2. What would happen to the school if a large number of these children fail the test?

3. If the school will put in interventions to help my child pass what is a Year 6 test, will that then put him/her behind Year 7 work?

4. Why aren’t schools already doing something to help these children? After all they get money to do so. [continued in comments section]

Lewis Fenn Griffin.  Assistant Head at a large secondary in Derby:

FB_IMG_1428504121804Whilst I welcome the idea of focussing on students who have are falling behind at the end of primary school, I’d rather we were thinking about what interventions can be put in place to help these children.  I suspect that it is not uncommon for key stage three to be left alone whilst schools throw everything at Year 11.

 

More comments will appear later. 

3 thoughts on “Should there be Key Stage 2 Resits? Part 1 | @labourteachers

  1. I cut it down for inclusion in the post, but here is a fuller response from Naureen:

    My children are now past Year 7 but if I had a child who was going to be starting secondary school in the near future I would have many questions running through my mind just now. I’ve listed these below in no particular order.

    1. What would happen to my child if he/she fails the test again?
    2. What would happen to the school if a large number of these children fail the test?
    3. If the school will put in interventions to help my child pass what is a Year 6 test, will that then put him/her behind Year 7 work?
    4. Why aren’t schools already doing something to help these children? After all they get money to do so.
    5. If schools are doing all they can then why is it that, according to the Conservatives, only 7% of those failing the SATs go on to do well at GCSE’s?
    6. What will be done to support children emotionally through this? Some of these children may be living in areas where children still sit the 11 plus. Therefore these children were either not entered for the 11 plus or “failed” the 11 plus. If they go on to “fail” the re-sit what effect will that have on them?
    7. Who will pay for these tests and would teachers have time to mark them?
    8. If my child wasn’t one who failed the test, then is it true that he/she is held back because there are children in the class who did fail the test?
    9. Is this streaming by another name?
    10. What is the correct and most effective way of supporting a struggling child?
    11. And finally, what do other parties recommend schools do for these children?

  2. I think that the streaming and setting have been mixed up and used incorrectly by many in the education field. My understanding is as follows:
    Streaming – taking an average of all the subjects and putting children into a stream for that (i.e. Stream B regardless of the individual’s attainment in each subject)
    Setting: Children are put into groups according to ability in a particular subject. I believe that is done anyway in most secondary schools.

    I think one of the fundamental problems in our education system is the real reason why inclusion is expected is to save money spent on special schools not because its whats best for the children in question. If it were we would have a range of different options for children with SEN not just the Mainstream/Special School as it stands. Some children benefit from being in a mainstream class, others can’t cope no matter what you do as it is just not the right place. Some special needs can be temporary others are not. We need better solutions than blame the teacher, make them differentiate 3000 ways and still hold a lesson together strategy that we have now. No it doesn’t help meet the needs of all the children and it is not helpful to lower the standard expected for all so that it doesn’t damage the self esteem of SEN or Lower ability children – we just end up in the mess we have now where we can only juggle and hope to meet the needs of everyone.

    As @disidealist pointed out best practice means letting a sense of reality in which leads to the best outcomes. ‘Good practice’ on the other hand means idealism which does not reflect reality at all but what it could be. It has its place when articulated as a vision which encompasses both the ethos and reality. Without us as teachers and leaders defining how to include both elements we will continue to have idiotic strategies thrust upon us by politicians looking for a newspaper headline. We need to start promoting our own solutions in the face of this.

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