Daily Archives: May 16, 2005

Especially for Maddie :D

Year Six have SATs. For those not in the know, these are the hours of torture imposed upon the children of our country at the age of eleven – difficult for the able ones, soul destroying for those below average (which the government keeps insisting do not really exist). Two papers of science, three papers of English and three of mathematics, all in the space of one week and all done under strict exam conditions. The results of these tests – as a percentage of children in the school reaching a certain level – are published in the national press in league tables, on the basis that all children are equal and the results are therefore a clear indication of how good the school is. Hence major stress inflicted on teachers and transfered to the children, many of whom end up in tears or even under the doctor for stress – and that’s both teachers AND children!

Those children who fail to reach this certain level – level four, the level all children would apparently be able to achieve if the schools were doing their jobs properly – have the delight of re-sitting the tests the following year. These are known as the “Year Seven Progress Tests” and serve to reinforce to the special needs kids that they are, indeed, failures as they can’t get a level four on these tests either so they think they’ve made no progress. Actually, some of my little loves may well achieve their level fours this year, but it’s going to be devastating for those who don’t.

So that’s tests in Year Six and, for the special needs children, in Year Seven. Now, add to this that the Isle of Wight, in their wisdom, have decreed that the league tables in year six do not give us adequate information about the effectiveness of our schools (us having the middle school system, and all, with half of the work for the SATs being taught in the primary school) and the progress of our pupils. So they have decided that children will do an obligatory “optional” SATs paper in year five, in year seven, and in year eight prior to transfer to high school. (In addition, they insist that our Year Fives and Year Sevens also do Cognitive Ability Tests for one whole week each in November, just in case there’s some information we’re missing somewhere.) This means, of course, that the special needs children in year seven actually have to endure two complete weeks of testing on the trot as they take the “optional” paper first and then have the progress tests to do. (I am further irritated because the examining body, QCA, have catagorically stated that if a child isn’t capable of achieving a certain level in the SATs paper, then they shouldn’t take it, but the Isle of Wight LEA insists that they should!)

Do you get the impression that I am somewhat anti these tests? I sat my classes down and discussed with them what was the worst thing that could happen. “We could get all the answers wrong, miss!” Yes, and what will happen then? “Er…. ” Precisely. The world will not come to an end, nobody will spontaneously combust, they won’t even be thrashed within an inch of their lives. So, start out thinking “it doesn’t matter if I get them all wrong, but each one I get right will be a bonus and if I get quite a few right my teacher will smile and bring us chocolate” and all will be well with the world.

I’m a bit of a rebel on the quiet 😉

Skiving

Last ten minutes of my non-contact lesson and the computer room has been invaded by a terrifying horde of Year Sixes. Anyone who has had any contact with year six after their SATs tests are over will know only too well what a scary prospect this is. And I was working soooo well, too. Still, it gives me the excuse to sit here blogging instead of finishing off the paperwork I was concentrating on.

I had a trial of conscience this weekend. Tiddles is doing his SATs this week. Strangely, our Year Sevens did theirs last week. I don’t know which school is in the wrong (and I hope any examining bodies reading this can turn a blind eye) but I know it put me in the unenviable position of knowing precisely what questions Tiddles will be facing in his maths tests this week…. a real question of conscience when he suddenly, out of the blue, asked me to help him do some revision for it yesterday! I was a good girl, though. I took him through a past paper, one which does have some questions which are similar and some which are totally unrelated, and just told him that lots of my pupils made mistakes by not reading the questions properly. Doubtless he won’t do too well, which is only to be expected because his knowledge of maths is slim enough at the best of times, let alone when he’s under pressure. I hope I managed to reassure him that I don’t particularly mind how he does.

Miss Lisa, I should mention that I am confident Tiddles will make it through his week away without any major explosions, although I’m less sure about the migraines. The bit I’m dreading is when he finally arrives home after a week of late nights and the tension of keeping his cool while in company. It’s when he gets home and feels safe that there’s the chance all hell will break loose. Never mind – we’ll don our cycle helmets and asbestos underwear and brave the foe with equanimity 😀

The new couch is wonderful… and seriously purple. Can’t wait to try it out – though I did sit on it for a while and dream of having someone offer to massage my back! Sadly the Smudgelets are keen to volunteer to be the first to test the couch but somewhat less keen to volunteer to do the massaging!