Meanwhile, on another island…

Not sure what it is with my latest habit of titling my posts with old references to film and TV (the title here is from my old fave ‘Gilligan’s Island”) but it just seemed to fit.

Just as we are sitting the students down to NAPLAN testing, news from the old dart is that those tests are being boycotted for the very same reasons many teachers have reservations about NAPLAN here.

The BBC report said:

Many head teachers say that the tests damage children’s education because they encourage teachers to “teach to the test”, so that other subjects are squeezed out of the curriculum.

And the league tables, they say, humiliate schools and do not show what they and their pupils really achieve.

The industrial action is being taken by the National Association of Head Teachers and heads and deputies in the National Union of Teachers but members are free to stage the action or not.

Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the NAHT, said it was wrong that a whole school should be held to account by a set of tests taken by one year-group.

“Of course schools need to be held to account. But they need to be held to account for what every child is doing in the school and the breadth of the curriculum, not just narrowing it down to English and maths.”

and from the GUARDIAN:

In Camberley, nine primary and junior schools that are members of the Surrey Heath Confederation of Schools had pupils sit old papers.

In a letter to parents, they explained: “We have no objection to testing and assessing children, but firmly believe that this should be done at a time, in a place and in a manner that is right for the children and that testing should underpin teacher judgment, not override it. Our objection relates to the way the government uses the test data, much of which is flawed by inconsistent marking.”

David Harris, the headteacher of one of the schools, Ravenscote junior school, said: “Obviously the children and staff have prepared all year for the Sats and what we wanted to do was provide a solution. Our problem is not with the testing, the issue we have is how the results are used.

“The schools in our confederation are doing an amazing job with the children they’ve got. But they have children with different needs and from different social backgrounds, and Sats don’t appreciate those things.”

Secondary schools could get a better picture of the performance and needs of individual pupils in next year’s intake by talking to teachers and hearing their personal assessments than through Sats results, Harris added.

Meanwhile, on this island…

3 thoughts on “Meanwhile, on another island…

  1. A very apt post as I sit in my office collecting the NAPLAN testing booklets from the teachers.

    We are fortunate to be working in an environment where students generally come to us with high stages of readiness for literacy and to a lessor extent numeracy – our results are well above expected levels.

    Therefore we have been able to resist the tensions and pressures associated with a narrowing focus and continue to have art, drama and dance classes together with senior musicals and lots of sport making it a well rounded education.

    I remember a regional director saying to me some years ago when I said our focus was on developing an inquiry orientated curriculum which makes use of high levels of literacy and numeracy skills that we were in a fortunate position that lots of other communities were not.

    I said elements of this at a school tour this morning for prospective parents.

    An apt post indeed.

  2. Couldn’t agree more Mark; and we’ve worked hard with our parents to see NAPLAN in the broader context of teaching and learning.

    Our results are great, but it’s frustrating to see us continuing to follow policies that have long been discredited elsewhere!

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