14th March 2016
This week, from the Teacher’s Desk I thought I’d share with you a piece I wrote for my local paper 8 years ago.
Politics is not my thing. But there’s something going down right now that I just have to speak up about.
The infamous My School website.
Here’re the things you ought to know…
The results shown on that website are based on exams focussing on two subjects, delivered by the government and administered over three days. They’re not the best indicator of your child’s achievement over an ENTIRE year and they have very little to do with how teachers are teaching.
Schools are filled with teachers who are committed to getting the best from their students every single day. They are challenged to bring together students from various backgrounds, to help them learn and achieve in many different subject areas. Teachers and in turn, students, will perform best when they are supported by parents, colleagues and the government. When schools are compared, labelled and colour coded, teacher morale falls and this in turn, affects students.
Whilst the government may argue that My School is about making things transparent and opening up dialogue, the truth is that these kinds of results were always available – you just had to go into schools and ask. And as for dialogue? Schools welcome parent input – that’s why they have things like Open Days, Newsletters, P & C meetings and parent-teacher interviews.
The danger of the My School website is that these exams will build a culture of further fear, pressure and anxiety amongst our students and teachers. Schools will think twice before enrolling students with special needs or learning difficulties. Teachers will start teaching to the test and other subjects will be neglected.
But the worst thing? People will forget that schools are living things – breathing and growing and changing communities. Schools are dynamic places where talented people gather together to bring out the best in our young people, providing hope for their future and ours. Instead people will start looking at schools like they purchase insurance. Before you know it, My School will be the shop-online option for education where you can “compare prices and results”.