Friday, 25 March 2016

What's happening? Who has the plan? Does anyone know? - Teacher Moderation 2016

My thought pattern over this academic year was as follows...

Be positive! Stay positive! Am I positive! OK just keep being positive... no you can do this... what's this oh ok thats ok... wait hang on what's this... and what's this?  But that doesn't make sense with this or that... what is going on? 

This rather long and laborious journey is all related to teaching assessment this year. I know everyone is as frustrated as me this years interim teacher assessment. Now I know this will be the first time I have attempted this for my school. But as a new teacher I quite relished the challenge of the hashing out a set of professional judgements about the children in my class. I knew I was possibly going to be up against the big wigs up at County and the government as an institution. I had it all set out in my mind... 

"See here child is A is this child is this" I would say to the demon dream crushers of county.

"Hmm well Mr Holmes I'm not sure about this" he would scoff.

"No look here and there! I'm right so there" I would defiantly claim.

"OK you are so right but I will get you next time" he would say skulking away until next year.

Queue patriotic music... bah bu bu bah bahhh bah

Yeh whoop fighting the man!

No such luck. Early in the year I quickly realised things were going wrong and I would be robbed of the chance to kick the proverbial dog. Bluntly put the current curriculum testing and assessment has been plagued by ambiguous mixed messages, arbitrary rules, too many contradictions and endless blundering. In my blog I think anybody can see I'm nothing but a pragmatic positive optimist. It really pains me to write such negativity but what's the truth is the truth...

I shall outline some of the difficulties that I am experiencing in brief.

The getting rid of levelling. The department for education said that the old levelling was difficult for the parents to understand. Now to a certain degree I understood this, I'm sure a 2B meant little to parents. So out they went...Did they replace them with 1 2 3 or even a b c all of which are universally understood. NOPE. Let's replace them with senseless letter acronyms. They are so devoid of any meaning that I can't even remember them!

The move from best fit to a secure fit model. Not only do the children have very difficult and demanding key descriptors to meet. But if they fail to evidence one on the preceeding set but can do all above in the higher set then they out and out fail. I'll give you an example. Let's just say I have a child that can write with subordinate clauses and beautiful prose. But fails to consistently put in full stops in their writing they fail automatically. Now an argument can be made that the teacher has failed to address or teach them full stops. But sometimes children's personalities completely override teacher wishes and hopes. What seems even more ridiculous is that we live in a world where people will be typing on computers which can tell you what's wrong with your writing. I always want to throw my computer out of the window when it underlines my writing saying passive voice consider revising. Why should I deny children the same soul destroying task.

Handwriting! Honestly I fell like I tripped into the tardis and fell back into the Victorian times. I sense that any tories reading this will be itching to tell me 'well one ought to ensure ones transcription is legible for ones recipients besides Britain was a tremendous nation back then ahhh the good ol days'. Unsubstantiated nonsense... The old days were full of awful pedantic practice for the sake of practice. Yes your handwriting should be be neat enough for others to read but joining should be a personal choice. Is there a correct way to join? NO! Does it matter if anyone does join? NO! Surely it's time to face up to things are computerised now. Shh don't tell anyone but...... the world is run on computers. But does either make a better writer...nope. The current system has been relaxed but only so much as to say that if you are a writing at greater depth then you are a joiner. But if not then you are only just meeting national standards. This doesn't take into account clear medical research that shows that seven year old boys often can't develop the fine motor skills to be able to join handwriting.

Grammar. Currently our six and seven year old will have to sit a GPS test. Harsh indeed considering the average adult cannot sit them successfully. I see the same strange glazed mixed with terror look fall across parents faces when I mention grammar. Often followed by well 'I was better at maths'. However, what's most confusing is that it counts for nothing. First of all it doesn't count towards evidence for meeting the standards in writing. Moreover, they have to use grammar in written pieces to prove they have met it. Huh but what happens if it doesn't come up in that particular piece of writing? Even more strangely is that my teacher assessment overrides it all. A curious way to spend time.

Drum roll please... exclamation sentences. Apparently a late clarification from the department of education has said that an exclamation sentence starts with 'how' or 'what' has a subject, verb and an exclamation mark. Now I have looked and spoken to a great many individuals and I cannot find any origin of this definition. It doesn't even seem related to the way anyone speaks or writes. My question would be why? Let's leave it there.

Constant late clarifications and clarifications that the  need more clarifications. Everything is rushed and half baked. Why release anything in the first place if it's not correct. Surely there should be a clear transparent end goal that everyone is included in achieving. Schools and teachers are currently left hopelessly in the dark. 

I have so many questions, equivocations, worries and fears currently about the looming end of year judgements. Too many to write about here. It feels good to unload. Even if it is into the abiss of the world wide web.

If anyone does read this throw me a comment good or bad.