W/B 13th May 2013 – Weights and Measures, Checks and Balances

This week has been dominated by the end of KS2 SAT’s, always a tense time as we ‘will’ the year six’s to do their best.

I find it a difficult time personally as it questions and challenges some of my professional beliefs.

Essentially we are teaching other peoples children and being paid with taxpayers money. This brings with it enormous responsibility, a responsibility that I and my staff take very seriously. My job as Headteacher is to ensure that St Mary’s provides the very best for our children and families. The best teaching, the best learning opportunities, the best care, guidance and support, the best learning environment and the best possible outcomes. We seek to ensure that we hold the hand of every child and, when the time comes for them to leave our school each one has achieved their very best, and more. That they are in the best possible place to tackle the next stage of their journey.

How do we measure their success, and ours? League tables, Ofsted, new policies and legislation, press coverage or Mr Gove’s latest musings? It is only right that schools are challenged and held to account. Sufficient checks and balances carried out by external bodies need to be in place, which are transparent and accessible to parents. They are your children after all. The ‘how’ schools are weighed and measured is what leaves me feeling slightly uncomfortable. The focus seems to have shifted of late, away from the children, away from the whole. Slightly at odds with holding their hands. Is this a pre curser to St Mary’s taking a dip in the league tables or Ofsted rankings? No, our direction of travel is still very positive and we continue in our pursuit of excellence. Our relentless focus on the children and enabling them to be all they can be.

The frequency of Mr Gove’s numerous statements to the press in recent weeks have left me a little bemused. His references to “Mr Men” history and the dumbing down of the curriculum is greatly at odds with what I see on a day to day basis. The key Stage Two SAT’s papers, the lessons I have observed and discussions I have had with the children, the books I have scrutinised would lead me to believe that our children, far from being in receipt of a dumbed down curriculum, are being inspired, challenged to be independent in their thinking. Being taught the knowledge and skills that will stay with them for a lifetime. They are also taught resilience, tolerance, acceptance and empathy. How to deal with difficulty and failure, over come it, and turn it into success. Failure is not a dirty word.

So in response to Mr Gove; I give no response, save for turning up to work every day and passionately demanding the best of my-self and my staff, for my children and my school.

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Reference: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22454219