Dear Mr Year Six Teacher,
Don’t worry, don’t fret, the time is nearly here. On Monday the SATs begin and it’s time for your class to be tested.
You’ve worked so hard, day after day, cramming it all in. Staying late each day, coming in on Saturdays and holidays. Barely time to consume your Easter Eggs before getting back to SATs revision.
Each day your children have taken home pages and pages of homework, test sheets mostly, and books to read. They have learned so, so much in the last few months since Christmas faded away.
Cram it all in, get them to understand, these tests are important, they HAVE to do well.
The kids are tired, they are fed up, they bring home more homework and refuse to do it. They want to play, they want to watch television, they are sick of multiplying fractions or changing passive voice in sentences. The current subjunctive mood being; if I were good at grammar, I’d be a better writer!!
I bet you’re tired too. It’s your first time as a Year Six teacher, first time for SATs. The pressure is on you. Are you a good enough teacher, have these kids learned enough to make you look adequate.
I’m sorry, I’ve not helped much. I’ve only let my daughter do extra lessons when she wanted to. And although I’ve prompted and reminded her to do her homework, I’ve not been hard on her. I felt the pressure she’s been under. I’ve seen my bubbly, funny little girl, turn moody and glum. Her sleep pattern has changed and she worries so much more. She’s worried she won’t do well, but she just can’t give any more.
They are just children, they are not about to leave school and prove that they’ve been listening for the past eleven years. They are not taking exams that will change the course of their life. They are just doing tests to show that they are on track with their learning. Tests that show that you are doing your job as a teacher. Tests that give the government a clue as to how well the school is doing. Tests that will determine which learning groups the children are put into when the move on to their secondary school.
Yes, they have some importance and yes, the children should do their best. Despite that the main benefit to them is the groups they will be put into, is one that will probably change several times before they are settled in their new school.
But, honestly, what’s the point of cramming? By overloading their little brains just so they do well in these tests you are doing them an injustice. What will they remember? They may retain a lot, but the main thing they will remember is how hard it all is and what pressure they’ve had to endure. This is not true learning. This is not a true representation of what they are capable of.
I cannot wait for next week to be over. I know you probably feel the same. I am sure the children feel it even more.
The children, in your care, their little minds open vessels to be filled with knowledge.
You should have had faith in them. The things they needed to know should have been taught since September, taught properly, not crammed in. Each child has their own limitations and these should have been noted and worked on. Each child should be allowed to shine at what they are good at, whether it meets SATS standards or not.
Each child should be tested on their ability and what they have learned.
Trying to cram everything in causes information overload and their brains won’t retain that information for long. Maybe, long enough to get good results on their SATs but not long enough to stay of benefit. Therefore not a true representation of their skills and knowledge.
I really hope that the children all do exceptionally well in their SATs and that you all celebrate their success and yours.
I just hope that the children don’t look back and think this was the worst thing they have done so far, and build up a fear of tests and exams. The next ‘real’ tests are the important ones and they need to be able to approach them with confidence and calmness. I hope they don’t get scared.
Fingers crossed I can get my scared little girl into school next week.
I hope she does well, but if she doesn’t then I’m not going to be disappointed. I will know that she tried her best and that’s all I expect of her. I will keep nurturing her and encouraging her to do better. I’m here for her, I’m on her side. I don’t want her to fail, but I don’t want her to be miserable trying to be something that she is not.
She can only do her best, and so can you.
Don’t worry, next week will soon be over and then we can all look forward to the Summer holidays.
Good Luck to ALL year six teachers,
and well done kids for surviving this far!
Best wishes, Mrs Sweet,
Mother of year six child.