My Year 6 pupils did not do very well this week. Or so the Standards and Testing Agency said. Consequently, I will spend a couple of days this summer putting together a portfolio of evidence explaining why most of the children, a third with special educational needs, actually made good progress in their education this year.
Despite having this knowledge, the raw data – vulgar and blunt – hurts. No matter how much you have prepared yourself for disappointment, it’s still like a kick to the solar plexus.
And then on Thursday, the same Year 6 delivered a performance at the Capstone Theatre of such brilliance that it brought tears to my eyes. Magnificent, lively, confident children giving it their all to a packed house of parents and friends, who rose as one to give them a emotional standing ovation. What’s more, they did this in partnership with an excellent local school, thus showing that collaboration can lead to quality and enrichment in our shared curricular aims. Collaboration that is, incidentally, being neutered by the corrosive competition caused by this pea-brained obsession with league tables.
I felt I had to write to their parents. Here’s the letter.
Dear Y6 Parents,
I wanted to offer some context to the form you received with your child’s report today. This is a computer-generated summary of the national tests that your child sat in May. These are one-off tests that are marked externally, except for writing which is marked internally and then moderated by experts.
The tone and terminology of the form is very clinical – ‘meeting’ or ‘not meeting’ an arbitrary ‘standard’ provides little information as to your child’s ongoing development as a learner. For example, it does not provide information on:-
- How your child has progressed this year
- Your child’s successes in the rest of the curriculum
- Their qualities as a person
- Their abilities in the arts, sports and humanities
- The quality of their work during the year
- Whether a child has a special educational need
And much more. Put simply, the form does not reflect a rounded picture of your child’s achievements.
In my view, our pupils are typically ready for their new school in Year 7, and almost all thrive within their new KS3 curriculum – whether they achieved a score of 98 or 102 makes little difference to that.
As a year group, Year 6 have made very good progress this year across the curriculum. We are very proud of them and their achievements, exemplified perfectly by their fabulous performance last night. They should be proud of themselves.
We’re doing our best.