Farsley Farfield Primary School

Headteacher blog 13/5/2016

This week has been the week of Year 6 SATs: new, ‘improved’, much harder SATs. The children (and staff) have worked really hard to cover the curriculum and make reasonable preparations for the tests. The assessments certainly were challenging and it will be interesting to see where the government determines the pass mark to be: this will be a political decision rather than educational. The children tried very hard and ‘gave it their best’. Whatever happens, we know that all the children have made some pleasing progress and have talents in many things.

I have been covering a Y6 class for a few weeks, mainly delivering maths and science, but today I sat in on a writing session led by Mrs Heap which was, for half an hour, delivered to the whole year group. I was immensely impressed by the quality of the teaching, the children’s commitment to their learning (having just completed their final SATs paper) and the sophistication of the writing being produced across the whole group. Could you improve a given sentence with a fronted adverbial or relative clause? Young people and schools get a lot of criticism over ‘standards’ but I don’t recall working at this level when I was a child. We are told that we must match the ‘best in the world’ but in many of these countries the children are reported to be miserable, over-worked and under huge pressure. There is always room for some improvement, but generally our children are doing well and benefit hugely from our attempts at a broader curriculum.

Elsewhere across the school, Year 2 have completed some of their less formal SATs that inform teacher assessments. Year 2 have also had a superb time at Skelton Grange learning about nature and have been making clay ‘boggits’. All of the Reception children enjoyed a visit to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm on Monday and most of 5T have been mountain biking at Otley Chevin with Chris Young from British Cycling in preparation for their residential in the Dales at the end of the month. What a lot of trips (again)!

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Finally, it must be noted that the government has finally given up on its plans to force all schools to become academies. The news was sneaked out on the election day last week but is to be welcomed. We will look to continue to work cooperatively with local schools and across the city. We are stronger together as we continue to build ‘Child Friendly Leeds’.

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One Comment

  • Chloe Anderson says:

    As a Year 6 parent I cannot praise highly enough the work done by Mrs Heap, Mr Cooke, and Mr Harris in preparing both Year 6 students and their parents for the 2016 SATS. Not only did they strive towards the shifted goalposts, they did it with fun and positivity. I am in no doubt that the Year 6 students know that these tests (and their results) are only a small part of their lives and do not begin to recognise their true talents and capabilities as individuals.

    Whilst I am pleased that forced academisation appears to have been dropped the following statement from Rescue Our Schools, Hands off our Schools Brighton and Hove, Matlock and Derbyshire Anti-Academies, South Bank Academies Campaign and John Roan Resists warns that it’s not over yet.

    “We want to send a strong message to the Department for Education to play ball and listen. We object to four key proposals:

    Forced Academisation: the government is still set on forced academisation where schools or local authorities are considered inadequate or if there are not enough community schools left in a given area. It is disrespectful to ride roughshod over the views of local communities and there remains no evidence that academisation improves schools or ensures proper scrutiny.

    Removing Elected Parent Governors: we object to plans to remove the requirement for schools to have parent governors elected by the school community, because it will fundamentally undermine schools’ accountability to parents. Requiring governors to pass a skills test will discourage people from all walks of life from making an invaluable contribution to their school.

    The “Fair Funding Formula”: plans to change pupil funding mean that areas with challenging social conditions could face cuts of up to 14 per cent. This will result in no extra support for students who need it or enrichment activities for all, and undermine the success of projects such as the internationally recognised London Challenge. We agree that areas that have traditionally been underfunded should get more money, but this should be new money. As parents we are all in this together: it is not right to rob Peter to pay Paul.

    Teacher Qualifications: we have deep reservations about changes to teacher qualifications which we fear will undermine confidence in the profession.

    We think the government’s proposals will damage education. This is a fight we can only win together – so let’s have fun doing it. Please join us at a Play Ball Nicky picnic near you or set one up yourself.”

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