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One primary teacher's open letter to the government: 'The standards expected are now untenable'

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    Is it SLT that conned you into believing, even, that children actually do SATs when, in reality, they do nothing of the kind?
  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    No, those aren't terms on the NC. The point is the same. You don't need to know the names to understand or discuss the language.
    You have't made counters to my arguments. You don't even begin to address what I have said.
  3. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    So Russell Hobby's recent letter to Nick Gibbs is not taking action? I have already told my governors that we will get what we get and I suspect many other heads have done so too.
  4. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Well done for that admission of your misrepresentation.

    You have yet to make your point but if syndetics were on the National Curriculum, you could not teach them without naming them. Refer to the first paragraph of this post.

    Refer to this post.
  5. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    interesting how some of the respondents on this link have clearly not taught grammar in the last year or two. The content is simply designed to allow a tick box text to be administered. I am a Maths specialist who did do grammar approx 40 years ago, hated it then, achieved an A Grade O level so have a reasonable grasp of English and Grammar. Without any training AT ALL, I am supposed to teach grammatical terms that were not deemed necessary for entry to A Level at that time. So when I get stuck, I ask my daughter who is an English graduate, experienced secondary teacher and senior GCSE marker for English language. She can usually help, but frequently has to decode the NC label to something that the rest of the educational world uses, there have also been several terms which she has never heard of at all.
    The analogy to requiring 8 year olds to define a logarithm, cotangent and so forth was most pertinent.
    poltergeist and Jesmond12 like this.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    No, it wasn't. All grammar to be tested for has been in the Primary National Curriculum for some time. Logarithms, cotangents 'and so forth' are not required by the Primary National Curriculum.

    Call this wild speculation if you wish but it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the reason some Primary teachers do not want their students to be tested on their knowledge of grammar is because they haven't been teaching it to them adequately if at all.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
  7. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    Not a very nice thing to say. But I am presuming that you are trying to wind people up again.
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    It's not a question of niceness. It's a possibility. Everything to be tested for has been in the Primary National Curriculum for years - did you know that? That some Primary teachers may not have been teaching to the Primary National Curriculum but instead fudging levels and are now angry that their caper has been rumbled is an efficient account for their current uproar.
  9. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    yes levels have been fudged in subjects such as Science ever since the SAT (or whatever various opinionates choose to call them) has been fudged. Hard to fudge the English levels when they are given by taking a test.
    BUT it is very hard especially for younger teachers who were never taught grammar themselves, to teach it to pupils with no training or even a text book to follow. As I said, if the content is unknown to a secondary trained English specialist/GCSE marker then it is rather tough to expect generalists or 8 year olds to know the same.
  10. drek

    drek Star commenter

    As a secondary teacher I have had students in year 7 from 3 or 4 different feeder schools, where they arrived with say 5c as their final KS2 grade in Maths and English and consequently in science too.
    But their baseline test scores and reading ages at the start of year 7 varied between 2b and 5c.
    Subsequent formative and summative tests verified these different starting points.
    So something was not quite right with levelling anyway.
    Is Nicky turning something not quite right into something terribly wrong?
  11. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    I spent 20 years teaching secondary Maths so know just how variable transition levels can be. In the days before SATS (OR whatever you care to label them) we got to know which of our feeder Primary schools and teachers inflated their levels. With the imposition of externally marked tests, the results became much more consistent, did anyone take much notice of teacher assessment?
    Having spent the last 5 years in Primary, the amount of coaching pre testing is directly relative to that given for GCSE exams and coursework. Followed by a similar amount of time spent doing virtually no English or Maths. Pupils' retention or not of the knowledge is then highly variable, deendant on their personality, brainpower and home life.
  12. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I don't think it's expecting too much of any university graduate that they should research and master any National Curriculum content unfamiliar to them which they are required to teach. If they are incapable of learning these things then they should leave the profession and make room for those more capable and willing. 'Subject specialists' aren't what they used to be.
  13. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    sorry, got cut off. and yes the levels were "not quite right" but the em system is completely awful.
    "Well done you are assessed as emerging and you will still be assessed as emerging when you leave year 13 after 13 years or so of full time education. Perhaps we should save a lot of money and stress and exempt you from attending education at all,"
  14. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Tell me about it.

    Trying showing you have any impact on pupils with social issues and behavioural issues, when they come in with - to be frank - stupidly wrong levels.

    One of the first things I do with the pupils that come to me (in an alternative provision setting), is basic grammar. Pretty much for the reasons Vince gives.
  15. whitestag

    whitestag Senior commenter

    The more I listen to you @Vince-Ulam the more I do agree with you. As long as we allow a few years for the constructivist nonsense to work it's way through, perhaps the primary profession will wake up to the fact that these methods don't work, and our children will start to pass through with a decent level of knowledge an understanding.

    As long as schools are allowed the time to embed this and not judged too harshly on results over the next couple of years.
  16. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    "perhaps the primary profession will wake up to the fact that these methods don't work"
    whatever methods teachers have been using they have been directly imposed from above and enforced by OFSTED.
    Having taken the step from secondary to primary I completely sympathise with colleagues who have spent their entire career being criticised by other colleagues who could not do the general teacher job in any way shape or form. Most have not stepped foot in a Primary classroom since they left one at he age of about eleven and have no clue of what goes on. My specialism is Maths and my biggest concern was, and remains that pupils in year 8 are too often given work that they could do well in Year 4, but secondary schools have not kept up with the rising levels of teaching in earlier years, being far too focused on the GCSE years.
  17. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    The testing of Y6 this year is based on a revised NC which has only been in operation for this year group for the past 2 years - so they have not had the opportunity to 'catch up'. The KS2 tests have also been made much more difficult this year, so the gap between what could have taught and the standards expected is much wider than formally. The SPaG test, in particular, (as has been discussed at length in previous threads) will be testing much that is of little relevance, understanding or interest to 11 year olds: subordinating conjunctions, determiners, etc, etc.

    I wonder where your evidence for this (rather offensive) comment is? When did you teach primary?
    Primary teachers - especially in Y7 - work their socks off trying to help their children achieve pointless levels & results in meaningless tests. Much of what is taught and retaught and revised and practised endlessly in Y6 is for these tests. You're right, much of the NC isn't taught - but it's huge areas of art, music, PE, history, geography.... because the focus is on what is needed to achieve in these tests.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  18. TEA2111

    TEA2111 Established commenter

    HLTA is halfway between teaching/TA. Have you considered that route?
  19. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Those to be tested have spent the last three years, their KS2, under the revised National Curriculum. What new content can be found - the English language did not change significantly in 2013 - is little enough to be planned for and taught in the space of three years.

    Which is no kind of a reason not to have been teaching to the National Curriculum for the last three years. I hope this is not an operating assumption among Primary teachers. Not all children are the same nor will they all go on to do the same things. Perhaps there is something to 'the soft bigotry of low expectations'.

    I'm sorry you're offended to hear what everyone knows - given the ridiculously inappropriate levels Y7s arrive with - but I broke into the secret volcano lair of Chalkfinger last week and stole all the plans for level-fudging. I'll fax them over to you later.

    Which is what I'm suggesting, that some Primary teachers are ignoring National Curriculum Statutory requirements. Doesn't that trouble you?

    I've always acknowledged that Primary teachers have a ridiculously important role. Of course I know that they, like Secondary, are subject to idiotic SLT, moronic inspections and teeth-grindingly vacuous CPD but radical to all that there is the National Curriculum and its Statutory requirements. If Primary teachers have not found some time to teach English grammar in the last three years, this current KS2, then what have they been doing in English lessons?
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  20. Danwaah

    Danwaah New commenter

    On the Russel Hobby letter, in a word, 'No'.

    I am genuinely grateful that you have told your governors that you will get what you will get, but does that mean that you haven't taught to the test? Also, have you also told your staff that they don't need to worry if your school doesn't get a raft of Level 5s. Have you made a statement to your local media informing parents and the general public that your school may have results that are not to the national standards, but there is a very good reason for this? If you have, that's fantastic, but you only have to read posts on forums like this to recognise that this is not the picture across education in this country. And that was the point of my post, teachers, students, parents and the public are looking to our leaders in education (not the unions) to stand up and say, 'We are the experts and we are going to do it our way'. But as a cohort, our leaders are not doing that, they just continue to drive the targets, and weaken morale within the profession.

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