I’ve recently seen a local news website publish a list of the top 10 performing schools in Lincolnshire and the worst 10. While I am in absolutely no doubt that the staff at the schools in the top ten are working so hard to the point of exhaustion (it kinda comes with the job,right?!) I have a few things I feel I need to get off my chest in support of those who didn’t quite make the grade (or level?) this time.
Firstly, these lists are produced based on the percentage of children in this year’s cohort getting a certain level in their year 6 SATS, including a teacher assessment in reading, writing, maths and science.
Whilst I totally disagree with the SATS for various reasons, I also feel it is totally unfair to label certain schools as the ‘worst’ in the county for many, many reasons.
Having previously worked in the school that has achieved second place in the top schools list (well done everyone!), I have also worked in a wonderful school in an area of the city with a much higher percentage of families living in deprivation. In this second school some children couldn’t talk before starting school. Some couldn’t independently use a toilet. Others were rarely fed breakfast or got to school on time. Some children had to sleep in their beds that they had had an accident in for the rest of the night. One girl had to escape her house through a window with her mother, whilst another had to be gifted with her own towel, soap and toothpaste so that she could maintain a level of hygiene at school. Add to that the amount of children speaking English as a second or sometimes third language in some areas, this quickly becomes a far more complex issue.
Some of these children start school in a much more vulnerable state and are not at the same ‘level’ of children in other schools. They first and foremost need to be shown love, affection and protection. They need to learn that they are valued and worthy of time. They need to be fed and nurtured in a way that others take for granted. Some children need to learn a whole new language and culture.
These children may never achieve a level 6 in their year 6 SATS (although some might), but the PROGRESS that these children will make in a good school with hardworking, dedicated and brilliant teaching will be outstanding.
A child who can not speak at the start of primary school may not reach the highest level by year 6, but they might be able to express themselves well, communicate effectively with others, perform in the school play, show someone new around the school and sing in the choir. Things that noone would have expected of them when they first started.
A child who can’t dress themselves when they start school or whose uniform is always unclean, may be able to demonstrate personal hygiene through the nurture and care of the school. They may learn to pour themselves a bowl of cereal, wash up their pots and help younger children when they need to. The brilliant staff in the school will no doubt have worked alongside the family to help them in areas they are struggling in. Plans will have been put in place to make sure this child will thrive and grow.
It’s ALL about the progress.
Please, please don’t look at the bottom of this list and think these schools are failing. They aren’t necessarily and they may even be some of the most nurturing and creative schools in the county; I don’t know. The schools towards the bottom may not hit the same levels as the ones at the top, but who knows, the progress these children make may well be outstanding!
How about we stop measuring the success or failure of a school by the results of a stressful and pressurised testing system.
How about we stop thinking that these schools at the bottom of the list are failing their children and in turn creating more stressed and disheartened teachers.
How about we spend more time focusing on these beautiful children and helping them to be the best person they can be for the benefit of the future of our world. Nurturing them to be all they want to be. Planting the seeds of hopes and dreams for the future.
How about we start trusting out teachers more and show more support, encouragement and respect for an entirely demanding role with a huge amount of responsibility.
I am NOT trying to say the schools at the top of the list have the easy job. FAR from it. They are clearly very brilliant at what they do. I just want to encourage people to recognise that this is a far more complex issue than how many children get a certain level in their year 6 SATS.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please do get in touch through the comments on here, via @thelifeschoolers on Instagram or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.