Mock GCSE's, SATs & Teachers - I have an opinion on it all.

This week my eldest child starts her mock GCSE's and my youngest does her SATs. I am pleased to say both of them seem to be handling it quite well.

My youngest, Lola, is excited (for it to be over) and my eldest, Heather, always has a fairly chilled out attitude to everything, whilst remaining fairly conscientious.

Heather and Lola at Packwood House last weekend
Lola's teacher has been, 'challenging' this year and I have been a disappointed with how the school has handled SATs (and various other things - but more of that later). The year six teacher seems to have spent this year just getting the class to repeatedly do test after test after test. Now I understand that in order for a child not to be surprised by exam conditions etc there needs to be an element of this, but there has been no respite, and their homework has just been tests. The homework has not been marked or fed back.  There appears to have been no learning this year, just 'cementing what they already know'.

How is this right?

Children are at a prime age to learn and absorb so much information, and instead, all they are learning is how to answer SATs questions in the style that the Secretary of State for Education demands, like little 11 year old robots, its Big Brother, 1984, totalitarianism, which is everything I hate.

I hate that Lola is going to school and learning nothing of real value for the real world. As a parent it is so frustrating.

I am, however, reassured that in September Lola will join Heather at the same secondary school and there, she will hopefully have a similar experience to Heather.

Heather didn't do brilliantly in her SATs, we weren't really concerned as we told her at the time, and we have told Lola the same, as really they are used to measure the success of the school not the student. 

Since starting secondary school, Heather has progressed and grown, and is now up for a prefect role as well as expecting to get a good number of high grade GCSE's. At school Heather learns new things every day, even though she is preparing for her mocks and she is part of the school community, it is a much more progressive approach to education, and even though Heather is in the first year where all GCSE's will be primarily exam based (again, as this is how I did mine), the school seem to be taking this in their stride and not stressing out the children. Which is marvellous.

I am under the impression that Lola's year six teacher has spent the year stressing out the children, I have heard tales of half the class in tears, rants that go on for 20 minutes or more, about how 'pathetic' the children are, and how they need to 'suck it up'. Whether this is the exaggeration of children, or fact, is hard to say but there seems to be some cohesion in what all the children are saying.

If it is true, I am horrified. 

Have I been in to see the teacher about this, I have literally been held back by Lola to stop me, as the children whose parents complain are then allegedly picked on more by the same teacher. Parents have been to the Head and still it continues. Lola has asked me not to get involved for her sake, which I have respected, but by God it has nearly killed me, I want to take it to the teachers, the PTA, the government and I want this woman taken down for allegedly bullying and harassing a class of children, for a year. Who calls an eleven year old pathetic? 

I asked Lola how her class are now that SATs are imminent? She said, some are excited like her, some just don't care and some are really worried. 

My husband and I have spent this year telling Lola how little SATs really matter so that she wouldn't get stressed about it and Heather has supported us with this and that has really helped, which is why I think Lola is in the head space that she is right now. 

During all of this the school has just had its Ofsted. When Heather started there back in 2007 they were an Outstanding School, now they are Inadequate, largely because of inadequate leadership and ineffective teaching, the pupils themselves came out brilliantly in the report.

Now, I don't hold much stead by Ofsted (do you see what I did there...never mind) but I have seen a deterioration in the quality of the school in the last 10 years and that's really sad. I don't know why it happened, maybe the Heads initial enthusiasm disappeared over time, maybe there were bad recruitment decisions, maybe when they took on additional children they weren't equipped to cope with it, I don't know. What I do know is that Lola will be leaving in 9 weeks and that will be that. 

But, when she isn't there, should I do something about the alleged awful things this teacher said to her class, I want to, I certainly don't want any other child experiencing it. I have seen Lola change this year, which is normal but she has developed this tough little exterior that I didn't really expect to see until she was a bit older, and I feel like some of her childhood has been taken from her. 

Just in conclusion, Lola came home this weekend with a letter from the teacher, telling all her class how brilliant they were, how they were going to smash it and how hard they had all worked this year. For me it was too little too late, but Lola loved it, she said she was going to keep it forever as it was the nicest thing this teacher had ever said.

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