Time for radical thinking to rescue our primaries

No crib for a... sausage roll

ZELLA COMPTON: A 21st century curse – how does a family manage the TV recorder?

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Life as a primary head is always an interesting experience. Can there be anything better than creating one giant learning environment for children, staff and parents? We strive continuously to ensure children are equipped with the skills necessary for adult life in a changing world. No-one suggests this is easy to achieve.

I have now been a head for over 20 years and recently my school won an outstanding Ofsted. However, I still constantly feel under unimaginable pressure to achieve the unattainable.

Every year we continue to be bombarded with one initiative after another. Every year we have to set challenging targets for our children, sometimes irrespective of their individual skills and needs.

All the teaching staff here know exactly what their children can and can’t do and what needs to be done to ensure they make the appropriate progress.

How do we ascertain what our children have achieved and are capable of doing? We have the Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) in May. These tests no longer take place in Scotland or Wales but we have to continue to do them in England even though research shows they are a very poor indicator of what a child is capable of.

But it doesn’t stop there. By looking at the SATs data, schools are judged to be good, bad or indifferent. This puts schools under enormous pressure which can result in curriculums being totally linked to SATs.

What can we do to remedy this situation? There will be a real problem if we fail to do so. There are no queues of teachers wanting to become heads.

In the next few years we will lose many quality professionals and there will be a lack of candidates willing to replace them. I for one feel this is an incredibly sad situation for such a vital profession as ours.

To re-balance the scales, perhaps we need to do something totally revolutionary like... trust the teachers.