Tag Archives: school

For all those who hate the SATs

This is something I have told people over the years but I need to write it down, as I still don’t believe it.? It never loses relevance.

I was lucky enough to spend the last fourteen years of my working life in a small, private girls’ school. The first two years were as a Year 2 class teacher, during which I was responsible for teaching to the end of Key Stage 2 SATs.? The whole testing, marking and reporting back to parents merry-go-round was an annual ritual that no-one enjoyed.? These girls were six and seven years old but it was the way it was done.

The first year was difficult, as I had a huge range of abilities; there were, effectively, eighteen children and five ability groups.? The girls at the top were very bight and easy to teach whilst the ones at the other end were a real challenge.

The second year was equally taxing.? By the time we were a few weeks away from the tests, it became glaringly obvious just how stressed these children were.? I discussed it with my head teacher – a down-to-earth woman with very strong opinions – and she agreed to come and talk to the class, to try and calm them down a bit.? She did a sterling job and was just about to leave when she casually asked them to put up their hand if they had a tutor.? Two-thirds of? the class raised their hands.? We looked at each other and said nothing.? At the next break, I went to her office and she was genuinely shocked.? She told me she had no idea of the prevailing situation and was going to stop doing the Key Stage 1 SATs immediately.? We would still use them as a baseline assessment for moving into Key Stage 2 but it would be unofficial and there would be no detailed reporting back to parents.? Any comments would just form part of the end of year report.? The school governors at the time agreed.

It was a bold step.? As we were an Independent School, it was possible but the ludicrous situation of force-feeding children linguistic and mathematical information that they will probably never need – and certainly don’t need to know at seven or eleven years old – is barbaric.? I am actually ashamed to have helped perpetuate? this system for so long but it was my job and that was the price.

I once read that a famous author’s work was analysed and didn’t even make a Level 5.? What need does an eleven-year-old have to do so?

“Is it really 10 o’clock?”

Sitting at the breakfast table this morning, a thought came to me very suddenly; I am beginning to enjoy retirement.? It is now almost exactly six months since I walked out of the last school I will ever teach in and settled to a life of finding things to do that would fill the void.? It finally dawned – this ‘altered state’ – when Hubby said casually,


“Is it really 10 o’clock?? Now you really must feel as though you’ve retired!”

I grinned, thought for a moment and agreed.? It took me a while.? At first, it had been in the back of my mind that I ought to be doing something.? I found myself? thinking ‘I would normally be doing [insert school-based activity] at this point’ or ‘I wonder if [insert school-based activity] is still going to happen this term’.? It suddenly became clear, this morning at the breakfast table, that I haven’t had one of those thoughts for a while now, probably since before Christmas.? I have lent a hand, from home, with some ‘computery stuff’ that I had initiated in the first place, but I don’t mind that.? If there’s one thing I do miss it’s creating resources for the classroom or for colleagues.? What I don’t miss is the speed at which some of these activities needed to be done or the possible fallout if they didn’t work first time!


Although I still miss the camaraderie and my mad fellow teachers, I have now doffed the ‘member of the profession’ bit and I am settling into that very important new phase of my life.? I have heard from others that, after you retire, you suddenly find so much to do that you wonder how you ever managed to find the time to go to work.? I haven’t quite reached that stage … yet.? There are things that I do on a Tuesday and a Wednesday that are not shopping or housework.? I also have the time, each day, to make the bed (yes I have said it before but it’s very special to me!), empty and refill the dishwasher, do the washing AND drying on the same day and prepare the night’s dinner at any time during the day that I damned well please!? Going away for a couple of breaks in term time last year was my way of rebelling – snubbing my nose, if you like.? Now, I am settling into more of a routine and it fits well.

So, goodbye to waking up at 6.20 am because I have to, to wasting? half a day (at the very least) doing the shopping at the weekends because I don’t have the time (or energy) during the week, to arriving at 8 pm on Sunday night and remembering that very important something that I forgot to do for Monday – and hello to retirement.


So long and yet like yesterday

Today I received an email from an old school friend.? Our families had lived a few streets away from each other when we were little and we started school at the same time in the infants at Crowland Road, in Tottenham.? We went right through until we left at age eighteen from Skinners’ Company?s School for Girls.? Seven of us actually went on to secondary school together but I am only still in touch with three others.

The email contained a photo.? It is of our two mums sitting on a beach – almost certainly Westgate-on-Sea, in Kent! – and they look so happy it brought tears to my eyes.


They were such very good friends and that showed on both their faces.

I have vivid memories of the close friends my mother had.? Some were from way back, when she was a slip of a girl, and others more recent.? It is inevitable that there will be some friendships made at the school gate but she had only two firm ones and, of those two, this was the closest.? It was rare that mum wasn’t at home at lunchtime or when I arrived back from school in the afternoon but, if that was the case, this lovely lady was one of the people I was most likely to go to until I was picked up.

My grateful thanks to someone who thought to send me this photo.? It has stirred up memories that had lain dormant – happy memories, that I am now glad to relive.