Busy busy, I should say. Year 11 and 13 leaving ceremonies, prom and party, Headstart Day for year 6 and the last training day of the year. It’s that that interests you? Glad to oblige, keen to scupper any notion that we sit around eating grapes and playing canasta. We’re still rewriting schemes of work now that the national curriculum has got very small indeed. Hardly visible to the naked eye, compared to its predecessor which was visible from space. Our departments have been deciding what knowledge and skills children need, working backwards while planning forwards (snazzy, eh?) from the top of A level to the littlest year 7s.
We were putting the finishing touches to our new way of assessing and reporting at KS3, what with it being three weeks to September 1st in School Land. Imagine our pleasure, therefore, when we were well and truly goosed by a new announcement, its evil twin and an unspeakable triplet this week.
Staying calm, let us contemplate item 2: the EBacc, now compulsory for everyone starting year 7 in 2016. We’ll have to think. We spread KS4 over three years to develop a bit of depth, but that means we need to be ready for September 2018, which isn’t long if you have to retool without any money. We quite fancy a TBacc, which is EBacc with Tallis bonus, but we’re not through thinking yet. Perhaps we’ll install one of those French barber’s pole affairs as a foxy addition to our foyer, and just remove an A. It’s enough to make you yearn for a Gauloise.
And now, ta-dah! Item 3: a school is coasting if fewer than 60 per cent of pupils get 5+GCSEs A*-C with English and Maths. Or, after 2016, if our yet-to-be-defined progress measures aren’t up to scratch. Hmm. Wouldn’t it be great if the coasting measure was ready before it was introduced. Wouldn’t it be great if the 60% figure meant anything more than adding 50% to Gove’s 40% which just doubled the number Ed Balls first thought of. Wouldn’t it be great if accountability wasn’t driven by the Regional Schools Commissioners’ academisation targets? Wouldn’t it be great if teachers had been consulted? Wouldn’t it be great if the progress measures weren’t loaded at the top end to make it easier for leafy or grammar schools? And has anyone thought about teacher supply? Even academies don’t have spare mathematicians stacked ready in cupboards. However, all will be well if you have a credible plan, hard to devise on Planet Incredible.
Item 4 to ensure that our cups runnethed over: OFSTED published a jolly new handbook.
Our professional associations are desperately trying to help the DfE understand that you can’t simultaneously promise stability but bring upheaval if you don’t want to look like an idiot. I blame the posh schools they all went to: did their character education not include honesty or restraint (let alone foresight, common sense or an understanding of averages)?
Anyway, we continue tripping and the glorious galleries and museums of the capital are alive with Tallis turquoise. We have a brilliant photo of year 9s looking at Tracey Emin’s bed. Concentrating hard and respectfully, knowing it’s an important piece they still look slightly bamboozled, as if they can’t quite see it yet, as if they don’t quite get it. They will, because it does make sense and skilled teachers will get them to articulate a measured personal appreciation and decide if its art or not.
I’ve seen the same expression on the faces of headteachers this week. We’re looking hard at all the policies but we don’t quite get it yet. It looks like Gove, but Nicky Morgan said she would take it steadily. It looks like playing politics with schools the same as everyone else has, but she says some Heads are complacent. I know heads who are tall or short, saints or loons, tutting or sobbing but I’ve not met a complacent one this century. This week’s policies are Tracy Emin’s Bed so bear with: I haven’t quite got it yet.