The Final Countdown Day 46

It’s the final countdown. I’ve calculated it’s 46 days until I make my great escape from the classroom. There will be many things I will miss but, as I’m sure many teachers will agree, there seems to be so much more that I will be glad to see the back of.

Number Five – SATs

As poor Year 6s across the land started their exams today, it’ll be no surprise what is in the firing line today– those Stupid Ass Tests.

When I was in Year 6 (or Year 4 as it was called then – actually, I think we were just known as the last year in Unit 3 – after being called Tops and Middles in the infants, anything was an improvement!), I have a vague memory of being told to sit at a table and answer some questions on a yellow piece of paper. We didn’t know it was happening, we hadn’t prepared for it and we didn’t attach any importance to this exercise whatsoever. It turned out it was an exam to help our new secondary school put us into sets. They would look at the marks alongside having discussions with our teachers (you must remember this was B.O. – Before OFSTED, when teachers were actually trusted to know their students).  And what do you know? We were all grouped correctly and lived to tell the tale.

When I first started teaching, I had a Year 6 class. When Easter came around, my co-teacher and I thought we should maybe do a bit of revision for these SATs which were happening soon. So we drafted in another teacher, split the year group into three and basically just carried on doing Maths and English in the mornings. Afternoons were still strictly for Art, DT, History, PE etc. Fast forward, 20 odd years and SATs have since evolved into a dark shadow, blocking out any enjoyment which may appear in the last year of primary school, enveloping the school day into a daily drudgery of arithmetic, reasoning, inference, extended writing and impossible to retain grammar points. The promise of an ice cream after the last exam is dangled as a carrot to try and drag every child kicking and screaming to the final day of SATs week. Before long, we will have mothers talking to their babies in the wombs about these tests. The younger we get them prepared, the better!!

SATs didn’t happen for a couple of years thanks to COVID. And guess what? The world didn’t stop turning. Children still achieved. Secondary schools were more than capable of figuring out where these children were and where they needed to be. And, more importantly, those children weren’t stressed, panicked or bored to death of determiners or multi-step word problems.

Just for the record, teachers don’t enjoy these exams either. They are the Death Eaters of education, sucking out happiness and leaving their victims exhausted. As my old teacher once said to me, children are not a number and shouldn’t be judged by scores or levels. They are each individuals who shine in their own, unique ways. I look forward to the day where we can stick SATs where the sun doesn’t shine – preferably the derrières of those who insist these Stupid Ass Tests still exist.

See what was number 4 on the list at The Final Countdown Day 47


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