Well, SATS are here at last at the end of a year where the updates and the changes have been as disconcerting as the unseasonable weather! Let’s get them over and done with and hope for something better next year.
Seems to me there is a lot of “noise” around about two things at the moment. The fact that the government is going to “force” all schools to become Academies is the first. This has been their intention all along despite the initial softly, softly approach. Those who work with me know that I have been saying for the past three years that compulsion would come eventually , and that it was better to do it on your terms than theirs! What bothers me is not the changing system, as actually it needs to change, but the fact that in all the hoo ha surrounding the political jousting, the original really good idea behind the proposed change has been forgotten. The intention was that education in this country would cease to be a political football and instead be reformed into a “self improving, school led system” where professional knowledge and judgement would prevail, and government would step back as it did in Finland many years ago. Is that not what we want? It is what the likes of Michael Fullan have advocated for at least a decade!
There is a lot of talk currently about allowing LAs to form Academy Trusts. Why? Schools need to do it for themselves. LAs may not be national politicians but nevertheless they are comprised of politicians, albeit at a more local level. Political control is at the heart of the problem in England in my view. This would be a backward step to the old paternalistic relationships of former years… in fact of the last century!
The other area where original intentions have been forgotten is in all the fuss over the new tests in Y2 and Y6. No wonder the children are stressed ! It is all that adults seem to be talking about. In all the fuss about how hard they are and how deadly boring the run up to them at the end of Key Stages is, only Nick Gibb recently has restated what the actual PURPOSE of the test is- for government to hold schools to account over quality of provision. At primary level they should NOT be high stakes for the children themselves and the best schools behave in ways that ensure they are NOT. If league tables were removed they would not be high stakes for schools either I suspect. We are our own worst enemies where stress is concerned. All the waffle about tests making standards higher is a nonsense. They are the chosen (easy) numerical method by which those in charge of the money can tell if schools are doing the best they can for the children in their charge.
Stress……I am reading a good book about stress at the moment: Leading from the Edge by James Hilton. He makes the very valid point, that it is not the things that life throws at you that actually causes the stress it is the way you respond that can do that, but you do have the choice!
I hope that the sunshine brings a bit of joy to the summer term, and that the fun can be put back into school for the children if it has disappeared. It will be time to start looking at School Improvement Planning for 2016 onwards soon. Inspir.ed has added two new Papers to its growing RESOURCES section that might help you develop quality provision in standards based classrooms. Both “Working and Learning in a Standards Based Curriculum” and “Planning the Journey Towards Mastery” are now available at a reasonable price. I am currently planning a day course for classroom teachers based on them so watch the website for announcements. In the meantime….smile and endure the next couple of weeks in the knowledge that it can only get better!!!