Having resigned myself to the fact that Gove seems to releasing his hangar of loose cannons onto the teaching profession and its defenceless students, I am resolved.
I will not allow my wild fury and anger impede my mission. We, as a school, decided to ‘Say Balls to Gove and Carry On’, because we believe that what we are doing is right for our students. Parents have stepped up right behind us. The students are even more motivated to do well and ‘show them’ what they can do. English and Maths have the bitten the bullet, fired our engines, embraced the cliches … we are, actually, doing exactly what we were going to do in the first bloody place. Work our asses off to give our students the best chance at getting the grades they are working so hard to achieve.
My only worry now is … will the exam boards continue to suppress the grades to make sure there are ‘enough’ A star to C for the summer cohort? This is the problem … if there was a real standard – a standard for a C grade, D grade, A star – that would be a fair system. However, it seems that there isn’t. What you had to do to achieve a C grade last year was different to the year before (and considering the rise in grade boundary points, it has increased year on year particularly for the poor foundation students). If teachers are teaching more effectively and standards in schools are rising, it surely follows that more and more students will be achieving the higher grades. What … is … wrong … with .. that?
We continue to be an ‘issue’ which the politicians to garner favour. What is fundamentally unfair – malicious, corrupt, cruel – is that it is the children who are working hard to achieve their predicted grades are the ones who continue to suffer. They have to leave school to get onto courses, apply for apprenticeships, jobs, university in a system which is now destabilised. I for one will be working like fury to make sure that Gove’s decisions don’t impeded their ambitions.
I am unnerved. Which, if you ask anybody who knows me, is not part of my nature. However, Michael Gove … pause … (sorry, I am having to try and stem a string of seriously offensive expletives) … or as I shall now call him ‘that man’ (though using this noun seems unfair to the entire male species) is dangerous. A man with power and inherent ignorance has been given free reign to change the education system … and don’t we know it.
Now, it seems, he is implying that English teachers are ‘cheating’ … yet again. Firstly, he removes the Speaking and Listening from the course (though, of course, it is still very very important … of course) even for those students who have worked hard, researched, practised role plays and individual presentations and been awarded a mark for their efforts. They count for nothing. Why? Because we cheat to ‘up’ our marks. Insulting doesn’t even cover it.
However, it seems that he now wants to impose a new ‘rule’: first attempts at GCSE are the only grades which will count in the league tables. This is from a man who also, ironically, wants to push students who are unlikely to ever achieve the golden C-grade standard into taking and retaking the exam until a C is achieved. So, retakes are valid? It is not that, apparently. It is because we are cheating the system. There is a pattern here – the animosity he feels towards teachers is, quite frankly, worrying.
I love the old saying ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again’. It is motivational. It implies that we can do it … and we can get there. Students may have got timings wrong in an exam, or not really taken the whole process seriously, or perhaps suffered from nerves at the first experience of being in an exam hall. Being given a second or third chance to get their target grades is a good thing. Any student who receives their target grade at Key Stage 3 (whether it be 1st, 2nd or even 3rd attempt) has gained that grade on their own merit. So, why doesn’t it count to Mr ….. (sorry .. nearly started shouting again) Gove? I wish I had an answer .. However, what is becoming increasingly apparent is that there is no rhyme or reason to anything this loose cannon. It is pitiful and wrong.
Having spent the past nine years as Head of House or Head of Year, I am now a Literacy Coordinator. Here I am, four weeks in, and what have I found?
I have spent the lunchtimes in the company of some really rather delightful students. My book club has been launched (only Year 7 girls for now … but we have plans) and we chose our novel (15 Days Without A Head) which our librarian thought was horrible and gritty but the girls have taken a liking to. I have taken the monumental leap from spending every lunchtime having ‘conversations’ about uniform, behaviour, behaviour, uniform and attitude (yes, rather a lot of attitude, in fact) to a new term of speaking to girls about what they deemed to be a ‘rather urban front cover for the novel’. Am I in the same school?
My next problem has been to start introducing literacy across the curriculum … I decided on the tried and tested strategy: winning hearts and minds first! However, I also need a vision, a strategic vision, an outstanding singing, dancing, twerking vision … but where do I start? I’m wading in without any waders … I’m throwing myself into the deep end without my goggles on … I’m all at sea without a boat never mind a paddle. But I do have immeasurable quantities of enthusiasm. It’s getting me by … for now.
Any offers of help, advice, resources, gin, Sauvingnon Blanc (New Zealand, preferably), please comment.
I’m off to create a plenary scrabble mat.