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:
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:
I’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:
After 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.
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:
Whilst 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.