A Proper Primary Education

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This half term has been dominated by the anger and fury of the teaching profession at the new government requirements for Years 2 and 6 sparked by the publication of the writing exemplification last week. Over the week, the anger seems to have turned almost to despair. I think that many teachers have accepted that things won’t change and that we have to just get on with filling our pupils minds with as many grammatical terms as possible. There also seems to be an increasing feeling that this is going to impact on other subjects such as Art and Science. Blogs by @nancygedge
https://notsoordinarydiary.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/on-writing/
and @chrischivers
http://staffrm.io/@chrischivers/eZkbFFQ2wN
both make this point clearly.

This is one thing that I am determined to avoid if I possibly can.

We have only had Year 6 for 2 years prior to this academic year. Before that, our pupils transferred to secondary school at the end of Year 5 which was a situarion that was a nightmare for both schools and pupils.

When we managed to change our intake and get Year 6 back after many years, we vowed that we would not become one of those schools where Year 6 was just extended practice for Sats. We promised ourselves, pupils and parents that we would maintain our ethos and Year 6 would continue to be as interesting and have as broad a curriculum as we could possibly manage.

This hasn’t changed although it has been modified slightly. Our mornings are filled with English and Maths but afternoons remain free for the rest of the curriculum. Some children have lost some parts of an afternoon for interventions which I regret but cannot see a way around. However, we try to keep withdrawal from fouindation subjects to a minimum. The groups of children are rotated round frequently so that children don’t miss too much of any one curriculum area.

We still have a very clear focus on areas such as History, Art and Music. Year 6 are currently loving their art topic on buildings where we are looking at artists such as Hundertwasser and Gaudi. Our slippers project before Christmas was brilliant and sparked one pupil to make his own pair of slippers over the holidays as he had enjoyed the work at school so much. That is the real stuff that primary schools should be made of. Where teachers can inspire or interest pupils to do something that they would not otherwise have considered.

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I will not let preparation for Sats take that away from my pupils. We will continue to do as much Art, Music, PE etc as we can possibly fit in. I want my children to remember Year 6 for all the interesting things that we did. If they remember the names of obscure grammatical rules, then that would be a bonus but it is not the reason that I am in teaching.

 

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