I have always sworn that I will use my blog to promote positivity. However, for one post only, I have to break that oath. Michael Tidd’s post yesterday, among many others I have read, stirred up the anger and frustration that I have felt building for some weeks now.
So, we are still awaiting the long promised report from the DfE. The one that was promised last year and is going to answer all… most… some… well, maybe one or two of the questions that we have been battling over with our new and revolutionary assessment systems.
Last academic year, I trialled a new system in my year group. It worked well, but there were many questions that the parents asked which I couldn’t answer. Not because I don’t know my stuff, but because the answers hadn’t been given. So, I made assurances and promises. “It will all be ok,” I said. “The DfE are working on it. We’ll know what we are working towards, what we are aiming for, how your children will be judged at the end of Key Stages very soon,” I said. “I’ll work it all out for the start of next year, and I’ll keep you informed.” Fast forward to the end of the year, and I presented the assessment system to the Governors. Again, the same questions. Again, the same reassurances. “We’ll know it all before the end of the school year,” I promised. “I’ll get it all sorted.” Dedicated to the cause, I was happy to plough through the report, crunch numbers, tweak the assessment system, all in my own time in the summer holidays.
But of course, it didn’t happen. No report came. The start of term came, and we all held our collective breath as more promises of a report were made. And more promises were broken. Still the questions aren’t answered. I, like many across the country, led an INSET session at the start of term so that all staff are happy and prepared to assess the children against the New Curriculum and without levels. They are all raring to go (well, with varying degrees of raringness) and starting to assess their children. But still we don’t know what the goal posts are. We don’t know whether our children are on track, or how much work we have to do to reach the floor standard, whatever that may be. We have made our own judgements of where we think the children should be, but have we set our standards high enough? Or are we aiming unrealistically high?
We have planned an information session for parents to tell them all about our assessments, and once again, I am going to have to stand in front of a huge group of people and tell them I don’t know the answers to their questions.
I am a good Assessment Leader. I know my stuff, and I know my system inside out. But I am going to be made to look incompetent in front of our parents by a Government who seems to be cluless. I have no problem with admitting my own weaknesses and failings, but I resent being made to look something I am not. “The Government hasn’t told me yet” – what kind of an excuse is that? It’s just as lame as it sounds.
Teachers, TAs, Assessment Leaders, SLTs, Heads – we are all doing our share to try and make our schools the best they can be. We are working hard to implement the Government’s ill-thought through changes. It’s about time Nicky Morgan and her Assessment Commission played their part too.