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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. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Lead commenter

  2. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    I'm pleased there is a focus on spelling and grammar, as before the teaching of genres and creative writing etc. was pointless for those children who couldn't use full stops and capital letters properly.

    However, only teach rules that will help a child to write accurately. Rules are needed to understand the difference between it's and its, or there, their and they're. This will HELP them in their writing. I passed my degree and PGCE without being aware of the difference between a coordinating and subordinating conjunction. Since I have learned the difference, it has not improved my writing one bit. Why do we need to know that a relative clause is actually a relative clause? Even young children write relative clauses all the time because they make up part of our spoken language and because they read them. E.g. I live next door to the boy who hit me at school. How does it help me to know which bit is the relative clause?
     
    guinnesspuss and -myrtille- like this.
  3. OG19

    OG19 New commenter

    I read Classics at a Cambridge. When I left primary school, I had no idea about relative clauses, subjunctives, the active voice, the passive voice, pluperfects, future perfects and the like. At secondary school, I did Latin and Greek and it all fell into place quite quickly.

    I look back at my Junior 4 books and the writing therein is straightforward and pretty bland, to be honest. That said, it is well punctuated and the spelling is accurate on the whole.

    Anyone who works in primary schools knows that children need a good grasp of the basics when they leave; they do not need the terminology. People who say they do, and there are a few lurking on here, are ignorant of the development of children.
     
    guinnesspuss, wanet, chelsea2 and 4 others like this.
  4. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    And in some languages it IS necessary to know different terminology in order to write accurately, especially as a non-native speaker. For example in Year 7 I learnt the terms subject, direct object and indirect object in German lessons, as this is necessary in order to know whether to use der, den or dem as the word for "the" (and that's just the masculine nouns!). I believe similar knowledge is needed in Latin.

    But the same terminology isn't needed to write English correctly! Only for the good old me versus I or who versus whom. Barely relevant any more.
     
    guinnesspuss likes this.
  5. lightningconductor

    lightningconductor New commenter

    [But unfortunately such people are continuing to contribute to this discussion (despite their ignorance) because they are convinced they know best.]
    The basics are indeed what matter. Primary schools traditionally prepare their children for the more academically demanding environment of secondary school, with GCSEs and possibly A levels, by teaching them the basics of reading, writing, tables, calculation methods and so on. Alongside this preparation, they allow their children to develop socially, to acquire study skills and gain snippets of knowledge in a variety of subjects. They provide them with opportunities to play team sports and take part in drama activities. It's all about building foundations. (And, something that some of the secondary teachers who have contributed so poorly to this thread will find it difficult to comprehend, providing a compassionate and safe environment where life is enjoyable at least most of the time.)
    Over many years, successive governments have added more and more to the primary curriculum. They have probably done so with the best intentions, wanting children educated in England to be as well educated as children anywhere else in the world by the time they leave school, but in effect they have placed so much additional burden on primary schools that it has become increasingly difficult for primaries to make certain that the basics are firmly in place. They have failed to understand how to improve standards at the ages of 16 and 18.
    Since a lot of the comments on this thread relate to the requirement to teach grammatical terms, I will make a comment specific to them. I am absolutely in agreement with all those who have stated that they have got where they are today without knowing many or even most of the grammatical terms that have now been added to the National Curriculum. It is NOT necessary to know them in order to write English well. I was educated at a grammar school (a very successful one, if success is judged by progress of students to universities) and only learnt those grammatical terms in the course of studying French, German and (most of all) Latin at 'O' level. I do not understand why teachers are now required to burden primary aged children with that knowledge. It's getting in the way of teaching and consolidating the basics.
    We need an education secretary who understands that we need to strip primary education back to the basics in order for standards later on in life to rise.
    Finally, and in the hope of annoying certain people on here, I'd like to quote a famous constructivist. 'Coverage is the enemy of understanding.' I agree.
     
  6. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    I'm just waiting for the "experts" to counter all of your well made points.
     
    lightningconductor likes this.
  7. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    i taught secondary for twenty years, moved to primary about 5 years ago in response to the suggested need for Maths teachers and male teachers. I hate all this sniping between the two phases of an education system that is steadily being destroyed by political interference, not teachers. The smug comments on here from secondary teachers are disgusting.
    My biggest concern whilst spending three years on supply, making the transition, was the huge gulf in the high standard of work by the average pupils in years 4,5,6 compared to the low standard of work being completed in years 8 and 9 by children of similar ability, often following a year 7 being taught in very basic ways by schools/staff totally focused on GCSE at the cost of everything else.
    I wonder if the 2ndary teachers posting on here will be so smug when they have had to try and get the current year 6 "failures" to pass the SATs papers in a few months time. Always bearing in mind how many of these children would have been in special ed of some kind a generation ago.
    Incidentally, my daughter is an English graduate and English specialist secondary teacher and senior GCSE English marker. She has not heard of many of the terms that 11 year old children are expected to identify and regurgitate.
     
    Alenamai, guinnesspuss, wanet and 2 others like this.
  9. lightningconductor

    lightningconductor New commenter

    I'm pleased to say that all of the secondary teachers who I know are in total agreement with the points of view that I and many other primary teachers have expressed: recent developments are another step in the wrong direction.
    There obviously is, however, a vociferous minority of ignorant secondary teachers (ably represented on this thread) who 'know best'. I've stated before that I don't believe they are worth listening to or arguing with. They are simply ignorant.
     
    Alenamai likes this.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    1. Secondary schools do not determine the 'standard of work' required of their students. Secondary schools follow the National Curriculum and prepare their SOWs accordingly
    2. Every Secondary school accepts children from a number of Primary schools. While some Primary schools will prepare children well for Secondary, increasingly many do not hence the pace of SOWs is skewed in favour of those children unprepared by their Primary schools for the work required of them.
    3. The point of Secondary school is, at a minimum, GCSE qualification. If you want little lords & ladies then send your Primary cohort to a prep school.
     
    wanet likes this.
  11. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  12. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    How do you explain students performing worse than they did a year or three before...? Have they 'forgotten' what they learnt?

    Why is the discrepancy between KS2 grades and KS3 grades, a common pattern across the country?
     
    chelsea2 likes this.
  13. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    ks2 grades are from a public examination marked externally, ks3 grades are by teacher assessment. As soon as the kS3 exams stopped, the levels rose, in the same way as ks2 science levels have risen since the ks2 sat was abolished. If your pay rise, future career and employment dpeends on TA grades...... Not all teachers are fully signed up saints.
    incidentally, junior schools will face just the same worries with ks1 results. It's all a huge game, the politicians love it when we blame each other rather than their constant changes.
    Virtually all children go backward when they move, be it to a new school, class, teacher, city, home.......
     
  14. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Which is why the levels that children arrive in secondary with, are not accurate.

    What evidence are you basing this statement on?
     
    wanet likes this.
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    My money's on something said by a relative who did a bachelor degree. Going for a hat trick.
     
  16. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    Why would you teach your whole curriculum to the level of your weakest pupils?
     
  17. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    We don't.
     
  18. abacus1982

    abacus1982 Established commenter

    Apologies I misunderstood it when you said that pace of work was skewed in favour of those who were unprepared by primary schools.
     
  19. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    No worry.
     
  20. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

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