I’ve got loads of stuff to do. Tens of thousands of emails that I should read and respond to; a multitude of holiday request forms to stamp a big fat unauthorised sticker on, all for the last two days of term; hundreds of reports to read, send back, re-read and add my words of enlightenment to; a school’s worth of final data to analyse; a final head’s report to write; a SEF to finish and a school development plan to invent. But I can’t seem to settle down and do anything.
I keep glancing at the NCA tools shortcut on my toolbar. I keep checking my password and logging in just in case it’s come early. But of course it hasn’t and I have to continue to wait. Wait for the 8th July when I will be able to unlock an Aladdin’s cave of secrets and dreams or alternatively, a Pandora’s box of locusts and P45s.
For tomorrow is the day that the SATs results will be released. Finally, the means that were meant to justify the ends will become evaluable; next year’s official line about school improvement measures will gain clarity, and, judgements about me and the school will, for a brief few moments, be pulled sharply into focus. Because self-evaluations and school improvement core visit notes and HMI monitoring letters and governor walkthroughs and teacher assessments are all well and good, but there ain’t nothing like scores on the doors to slap you about the chops and tell you how it really is – or at least, how it really looks.
The whole SATS process is like a macabre game of life and death controlled by a maniacal psychopath – I can only imagine the person in charge this year once went to see the film ‘Saw’ and has never quite been the same since. We should have been worried when we read the rule book – how anybody managed to administer the SATs without triggering a ‘maladministration beheading’ I’ll never know. Then after we’ve wrapped them in more plastic than Laura Palmer, the papers get sent to the markers. Not in one go of course – oh no. In pieces, bit by bit. How sick is that? The poor SPAG papers are all cut up, dissected and scanned before being emailed all around the country to get marked by desperate men and women all trying to save up for a summer holiday abroad – and hey, if that means not awarding a point because some poor kid, although correctly identifying two connectives, foolishly circled both when the question only asked them to circle ‘a’ connective, then so be it.
Finally, once the other papers have been forensically marked (I heard that the markers of the maths papers were given magnifying glasses to check for different shades of pencils in the ‘workings out’ sections which could be evidence of cheating, but then again @PrimaryHead1 is prone to exaggerate) they are sent back to school. And this is where you get a real glimpse of the twisted genius behind the Grand Master who got this game going in the first place. We get the scores – not the thresholds or the levels – just the raw scores. Trying to understand what these scores actually tell you is a bit like reading Chaucer or listening to a conversation in Welsh: you think you sort of know what it might mean but after a while your brain hurts and you realise none of it makes any sense. (And I can say that because I am half Welsh – Diolch yn fawr; and I read ‘A Miller’s Tale’ at A-level – something about smelling of liquorice and hot pokers.)
I mean, if you were to find out what was the most googled thing during the week when the SATs papers came back, I guarantee it would be: ‘KS2 SATS threshold 2013’. Every Head up and down the land, after counting up all the scores, was desperately trying to remember last year’s thresholds in order to second guess their results a week early.
‘Well if the threshold is the same we’re on for about 65%, however, if it drops three marks we could be looking at 127%, so you know…we could be alright.’
Never before has such pointless maths been undertaken by so many – well apart from a few weeks earlier when a load of children were made to sit the Level 6 maths paper.
It was like trying to crack an impossible code and one by one we all collapsed, exhausted. We threw away our calculators and declared that we didn’t bloody care anymore anyway! Much to the delight of the Grand Master who knew that we didn’t mean it, knew that he had broken us, knew that we had finally become the submissive slaves he so cravenly desired. He knew that for the next two weeks, life beyond school (Glastonbury, Wimbledon, my mother’s birthday…) would hold no power over us – we would simply shut everything out and patiently wait. Wait for 8th July. And when that day loomed, like dutiful puppets we would try to stay up until midnight in the hope that we could end our misery there and then. But of course we won’t manage it – it’s like waiting for Father Christmas: you always fall asleep.
One more sleep.
One more sleep before we can go to NCA tools, enter our passwords, and click upon our fates.
Good luck everybody.
Our lives are mirrored in so many ways……..good luck!
I have been reading your blog for several months and I just have to reply to this one. My deputy actually thinks I AM you since every post seems to echo exactly what we have recently been bemoaning, I mean professionally discussing. It’s absolutely uncanny how well you echo the thoughts of so many Heads. You tell it like it is but so irreverently and amusingly. You’re a tonic and a breath of fresh air. I love the fact that you are actually saying what we are all thinking and you’re getting away with it! I raise my glass to you (well actually at this point it’s an empty Carlsberg Citrus bottle). Like you it’s very refreshing. Thank you.
Wow, that’s the nicest comment ever! Thank you and here’s to getting away with it for a bit longer. Now go and get yourself another beer and good luck tomorrow.
The papers actually arrived the first day of our OFSTED inspection. Made my secretary lock them in the safe in case the inspector asked me to open them for a rifle through! We actually went from RI to Good in our inspection but I was still worried to download the results in case we had bombed and they would take our Good back. In the finish we managed amongst the best set of results ever with everything improved on last year too. Yay! Hope others had positive experiences too.
Probably sums a lot of us up! Although a light-hearted read the night before.
Think I won’t be the only one that then started to track the last few years and consider the varying fluctuations, before convincing yourself what it all means.
Good luck to all and to all a goodnight:)
Oh, this is all so true… and so depressing! We have left our papers inside their pretty blue plastic sacks to avoid the whole ‘well if they move the reading paper level 4 threshold by the square root of pi and change the maths level 5 threshold to reflect the fact that only the posh level 6 kids were allowed a calculator…’ type of conversation Grrrr! Thank you for reminding of the absurdity of it all! Sleep well and good luck
Why do we put up with it. They are 11. I’m disgusted with the whole thing this year, just seems so immoral to penalise them for writing too much in the answers.
Hope your next update says that all of your students have done brilliantly.
Show My Homework / @ShowMyHomework