One of my most memorable and surreal moments in education was watching my headteacher being run over by a Year 6 teacher.
She was stressed out because Ofsted had the affront to tell her that the Library should be open at dinner time. He had gone out to try to get her back in school. As I watched the head teacher slowly roll over the car bonnet and crash on to the black tarmac of the staff car park I couldn’t help thinking I hope I never get so stressed in teaching that I feel the need to run over the head teacher.
I am sure that if that teacher had been responsible for this years cohort of Year 6 she would not have stopped at running the head teacher over, she would have reversed, got out of the car, slammed his head repeatedly into the door, kicked him for good luck and sped off with his wallet.
SATs have been an utter shambles this year, rushed, badly planned, utterly inconsistent and have turned the important educational relevance of testing in to a joke. Armando Iannucci, creator of ‘The Thick of It’ could not have done it better: reality, this week has been more surreal and ridiculous than fiction.
Leaks, Tweets and Cultural Irrelevance.
What the … ? So is this about our children? Are we proving a point? Is there some sort of ministerial ‘oneupmanship league’ we don’t know about?
UK minister: Yeah, like. Our Key Stage 2 SATs are like totally challenging.. like. They say our 11 year olds have to read at the level of like 15 year olds. It’s like totally minted… like. We are going to rule the world!
Finland’s Minister: Sorry?
Children cried, teachers cried, children threw up, teachers threw up on children and head teachers looked up ‘Jobs like headship’.
The big issue for me on Monday was all about ‘Bagging’ (Not to be confused with Dogging… This is very different and has nothing to do with SATs – I am told.). We had some children sit the test with coloured papers. The guidance was unclear. Do I included these papers in the main bag or do I keep them until the end of the test and bag them altogether? I phoned people, they laughed at me, we phoned the DFE… They were very busy but 90 minutes later they said, “Good question!”
We bagged them at the end… They then sent an email out to everyone explaining why we were all very confused… All I thought about is the many people who had already sealed the bag!
Leak day! I decided to dress up all rogue. We were smashing the system on Tuesday!
Oh no… We were just continuing to do what we were told. The test was easy. The children laughed. Apart from the many that cried.
The DFE tweeted about not leaking tests (HA!). Even the tests that had been taken! We were sworn to a secret government pact. Children were told NOT to talk about the tests… To just forget about them. It all felt very Orwellian and stupid.
I tweeted about African animals and had to take my tweet down because I may have contravened the UK Secrecy Act. I panicked for a few moments. I removed the tweet and waited for the death blow… I am still here (Looks furtively over shoulder), but I may be on a list! A man in a mack leaned against the street light opposite my house and spoke into his wrist. He’s still there!
All I can think about is House Prices… Are we selling our young generation hope subliminally via the tests? I’d buy those houses! I kept thinking about the nature of the questions… They had certainly got tough but personally they are not tough enough. Lucky for us the DFE are doing something about it. I managed to get hold of a leaked 2017 Reasoning Paper Question (Just hang around a government website and you’ll soon find one)… I am going rogue for you all:
If a teacher had a reduced budget due to increased National Insurance contributions and the raising cost of living and Vodka cost £30 pound a bottle… How many pints of gold top milk could they buy instead? Remembering that inflation is at 2.3% and the King of Jordan had declared that Shakespeare was really born in Russia. We would also like you to take into account a ‘What if’ senario’ in which Donald Trump wins the presidency of the United States of America… And NASA predict a comet impact in 2018.
We would watch the despair of teachers as the children equated the inflation, milk prices and vodka costs in real terms to teachers monthly income but missed the Armageddon tax of a comet impact right at the end… Damn, 1 mark lost! One teacher is likely to jump out of a window because a child didn’t use a recognised method to work out their answer.
We cancelled Fridays VIP, SATs Foam PARTY.
I made my declaration. The DFE tweeted about keeping all the uncollected tests secure… Damn I thought, why did I leave them on a bench next to the school fire pit? Why didn’t I think about keeping them secure, in a safe, in a locked cupboard somewhere?
I thanked the helpful DFE tweeter!
Children made films, worked clay, laughed, created games, talked gaming strategy, went outside in to the sun, ran, sat on ants nests, played football, wrote stories, balanced Pringles boxes on their nose, stuck the ends of their ears in to their ear and told jokes… If only we could devise a test to measure if any of this was worthwhile and important?
Overall I did love the DFE tweeter this week. I am not sure whether they were purposely ironic or serious. I visited the DFE twitter feed on Wednesday night to read a tweet that said,
“Please remove this tweet as the tests are still live.”
Someone had mentioned a type of thing, you know… That thing that happens in maths to sort things? That maths thing?
Are the tests still live?
What’s that red dot climbing up my chest? Is that a laser sight? Oh my GOD! I’ll take it down! I’ll TAKE IT DOWN, For the love of God!