Category Archives: Nicky Moragan

You have NOT failed

To almost half of children who ‘failed’ their SATs,

You have NOT failed; the new system has failed you. Your SATs results are not representative of what you can achieve.

Are you impressed I used a semi-colon above? Does this automatically change my writing from average to showing greater depth? As we all know, real achievement is not about using a semi-colon correctly or recognising a fronted adverbial. Lots of people can rote learn and regurgitate facts. But what lots of people can’t do is be like you, and think like you.

Real achievement is taking risks and being creative. Real achievement is having the confidence to develop your own independent thoughts. Real achievement is practising running every week and running faster than you ever have. Real achievement is putting your hand up in class when you never dared to before. Real achievement is when you were terrified of that climbing wall on school journey, but you gave it your best go anyway. Real achievement is joining in with a game in the playground although you are nervous; it is creating something you are proud of; it is understanding and enjoying something you never thought you could. Achievement is many things, but what it isn’t, is causing almost half of our children to leave school with a sinking feeling that they are not good enough.

On Tuesday, SATs results were sent to schools. Surprise, surprise, only 53% of children achieved ‘national expectations’. The old levels system has been changed to a points system, meaning that rather than getting for example a level 3 if you do not reach national expectations, you simply get a pass number (100+) or you fail. However no one knows exactly what the 100 benchmark is until every child has taken the test. The government then use the tests to work out how many points children need to get to reach what they then decide are national expectations. So if, for example, they want 47% of children to appear below average, they can do just that.

Firstly, you must know what the big plan is. You may have apparently not reached national expectations in those SATs papers, but you know that says NOTHING about you; it is to do with money and numbers and power – and not really to do with children at all. Although Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has apparently done a U-turn on her plan to turn all schools into academies, there are covert ways to make this happen, regardless. To do this, she must prove that a school is ‘failing’. To prove that a school is ‘failing’, what you do is you set unrealistic expectations for the children, make the ‘pass’ boundary really high and bing bang boom, there you have it: 47% of children don’t meet the new national expectations. With this ‘proof’, Nicksters could say, hey, let’s turn this school into an academy, because it isn’t good enough.

If a school becomes an academy, funding to local government can be cut; more power to the Education Secretary. Academies are overseen instead by private ‘charitable trusts’ linked to central government. The CEOs of these companies can be paid huge amounts to run schools, some up to £400,000 and education can become privatised. So these results are about the school, and the government, but they are NOT about YOU.

Also worth remembering is however you have done in your SATs, your teacher assessment is even more important. If you have been working hard and making progress, your teacher will know this, and that is what is really important. It is not about getting a score of 100 or doing better than others in the country; it is about knowing you are improving in yourself. You are better than you were last year; you have learned more and grown more and that is real achievement.

It is so easy to be thrown by SATs and scores and marks and data but in the end, they are just figures and of course, you are not a figure. You are a complex person with special qualities and lots to offer. You are much more than numbers on paper.

When my sister was at school, she was upset by her SATs results. She was deemed officially ‘below national expectations’. She had been diagnosed with autism and told she was not expected to ever be able to do tests like GCSEs. She struggled academically; school tests have never been easy for her. But did she let that stop her? No, she certainly did not. With lots of hard work and perseverance, not only did she sit her GCSEs but she also sat her A-levels, made it to university and graduated with a 2:1. But even if she hadn’t, it wouldn’t matter. Because she tried her best and has proven she is so much more than numbers on paper, and she has so much to offer the world. In the scheme of things, getting a ‘below national expectations’ SATs result meant nothing. All it did was spur her on to prove people wrong and achieve what people never thought her capable of achieving.

Standard Assessment Tests or Starting Academy Tools or Superfluous Avoidable Trauma, whatever you call it, in the end, they’re just tests. When you’re older, no one is going to say to you, hey, what did you get in your Year 6 SATs? SATs are no way to measure real achievement. If you want to look at real achievement, look back at all those things you have done that you never dreamed you could. Think of all those special qualities that make you you and no one else. What the world needs is not a generation of robots who can tick the boxes and get full marks on a SPAG test, but it is people with fresh ideas, and energy and creativity. People like you.