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Is the school taking the p!ss?

(173 Posts)
nat73 Mon 30-Jan-17 12:15:45

Long story but the primary school our kids go to is very nice and relaxed but their SATs results this year were dire. For some time we have been thinking that the 'extra curricular' activities outweigh the actual curricular activities. I know kids should be kids etc and we spend lots of time on weekends playing with playdough and in the garden, on bikes etc. So I do expect time at school to be used for 'learning' and better still learning to read and write.

Warm up to Xmas at our primary school included (for the whole school): Xmas concert, Xmas fair, Xmas party, Xmas lunch, trip to the pantomime and all day trip out.

In 2 weeks time there is another whole school trip. Year 6 go on an all week outward bound course (4 nights) during the week and I notice other schools do it over a weekend.

I went into the school before Xmas to express my concerns about the SATs results and that they are nothing learning stuff in enough depth. I was told there is so much to cover that in the time available there is not time to do everything in alot of detail.

Year 6 have 2 after school sessions per week to try to improve the SATs scores. Then I find out this week that for 12 weeks they are having someone from the local community to come in to talk about an aspect of popular culture for 30 mins per week.

Is this a wind up? If there is not enough time to cover the curriculum in detail why are they a) doing so many trips and Xmas stuff and b) spending 6 hours on popular culture. I dont mind this being an after school club or something but why have pupils stay after school to study for SATs and then spend time in the day pratting about?

My husband says I should complain to the governors but I feel like I have come to the end of the road on this. Is this normal? Are all primary schools pratting around this much?

Trifleorbust Mon 30-Jan-17 12:18:36

Hmm. I suppose the choice is between a bone dry curriculum focused purely on SPAG and numeracy, and putting more time in to ensure everything is covered but the kids don't die of boredom.

loona13 Mon 30-Jan-17 12:18:58

Why SATS results are so important to you? At the beginning of secondary school they will have tests assessing their levels anyway, nobody looks at SATS.

Sunnymeg Mon 30-Jan-17 12:20:55

When DS was at primary, the residential visit, the school play and other extra curricular activities were squeezed into the six weeks between taking the SATS and leaving the school. It did make for a pretty boring time before the SATS though. The school might be trying to find a balance.

witsender Mon 30-Jan-17 12:21:38

Sounds lovely!

mambono5 Mon 30-Jan-17 12:22:01

I would be over the moon if my kids school were encouraging so many interesting and varied activities. I would rather see well-rounded and happy kids than little zombies who are pushed to tick boxes with little interest in their well being. (not directed at you OP< just after seeing some schools around here)

I am all for learning the basics, but I think they are more likely to master the them in a more interesting environment.

Rainydayspending Mon 30-Jan-17 12:22:12

Is this a reverse? SATS are no judge of a child's ability, merely the school. Learning should involve a lot more play and community than schools often bother with.
Also SATS this year (?) Are they early. Are you in the UK?
With mental health of children declining in the uk it sounds as though this school is trying to shift the focus onto genuine learning and growth over the presure of vacuous rote learning.

RevealTheHiddenBeach Mon 30-Jan-17 12:24:15

The activities sound fairly normal for a primary school. It's nice to be able to celebrate all the festivals etc.

I don't know a single school that does residentials over a weekend. Teachers don't get paid extra for residentials as it is - giving up their weekends as well? That's not sustainable.

Are the school's KS1 results dire? And what is your definition of dire? Low results can now trigger ofsted inspections, but it depends how low they are.

wettunwindee Mon 30-Jan-17 12:29:38

Why do you place so much weight on the SATS results OP?

Are you happy with the progress your children have made at the school?

Do you feel the school is a place which nurtures enquiry, adapts lessons to engage with different children and their needs and interests and has your children's best interests at heart?

Do you think that the staff, especially the management team, will be examining the results, picking over them, analysing them and discussing them with the class teachers?

You're not normal. Your husband sounds equally abnormal. Perhaps more so if he thinks the govenors should be approached.

I'm interested in your analysis of the SATS though. How do you think they could be improved, besides cancelling the pantomime, of course. Where do you think the failings lie?

edwinbear Mon 30-Jan-17 12:33:04

I think your school sounds fabulous. DC's private school is much the same, hence why we chose it - they place so little importance on SATS they don't even sit them!

AQuietMind Mon 30-Jan-17 12:33:40

It sounds like a lovely school where the teachers are not putting ridiculous pressure on children to perform like monkeys for a pointless test.

LTBforGin Mon 30-Jan-17 12:33:52

Are your dc at the expected levels for their age?

I think most schools 'write off' a good week or so in December. Ours had a carol service, the xmas performance, xmas fair, pantomime visit, xmas jumper and xmas dinner day...and the xmas party!

I think you're over thinking it. If you're dc are struggling then you can speak to your dc teacher surely?

CripsSandwiches Mon 30-Jan-17 12:34:49

Why would you want your children wasting their time preparing for SATS. They're important for the school not for the children. Lots of schools achieve good results by cramming kids for the test which is a waste of the children's time and likely to put them off learning.

Do you actually have any genuine concerns about the school covering the basics in terms of literacy and numeracy? If not I would be jumping for joy that the kids are getting an enriching curriculum.

PerspicaciaTick Mon 30-Jan-17 12:37:51

I would say that the school sounds (understandably) a little OTT about SATS and after school sessions BUT that pales into insignificance compared to the OP's obsession. Why? If you aren't a teacher at the school, why does it matter?

Trifleorbust Mon 30-Jan-17 12:39:19

Some of the responses here are harsh. The OP may not know that it is the norm on MN to express nothing but contempt for tests and work towards tests. It's only learning if it involves 'messy play' or 'free flow play' apparently hmm

It is reasonable to ask the question, OP. I think what they are doing sounds like a decent balance though.

VeritysWatchTower Mon 30-Jan-17 12:39:35

Nobody cares about SATs. When you child starts secondary they sit CATs and are put into ability groups from those.

If you care sooo much about your child's education why don't you do some things at home? The internet is full of past SATs papers and work.

Eolian Mon 30-Jan-17 12:40:10

My ds' (very small village) primary school is a bit like that. I love it. They did get very good SATS last year, but that's largely because they had a bright cohort of kids. I couldn't give a monkey's about SATS from my child's point of view really though. They are a beating measuring stick for the school, not the child. Oh and I'm a teacher, if that makes any difference.

GardeningWithDynamite Mon 30-Jan-17 12:42:38

I agree, OP - they seem to have it a bit backwards if they're doing the academic SATS stuff as an after school option and the popular culture stuff during the day.

My DD's school has just had "unexpected" low results on some of its key stage 2 tests and they do a lot of "extra" stuff.

MissDollyMix Mon 30-Jan-17 12:42:45

Wow! This is coming from a 'pushy mum' but your children's school sounds lovely! I wish more were like that. Having said that, even our hyper-academic local school had a similar Christmas curriculum. I don't think you can judge the school based on that alone.

BroomstickOfLove Mon 30-Jan-17 12:43:04

The fun activities during school hours sound pretty unobjectionable to me, and the sort of thing that go on at most of the primary schools I know which get good SAT results. Sometimes bad results will lead t the leadership team removing all fun and focussing only on test work, but I would say that that is generally an indication of bad leadership. The 30 minute talks might well be designed to tackle an area of weakness. In general, excellent schools with excellent teaching will put in impressive amounts of work to make sure that the children are learning in ways that don't feel particularly stressful.

It might be that the school is bad, but that wouldn't show in weekday residentials and theatre trips. It would show in the children getting the same things wrong, year after year, with no improvement, and doing worse than other children in similar circumstances.

harderandharder2breathe Mon 30-Jan-17 12:44:55

Yabu sats results are not the be all and end all in life. They matter not at all to anyone except school league tables.

All the schools in my area do the outward bound trip in the school week btw

If you and your husband don't like the school ethos (which sounds fab btw) then remove your child and send them to a school that pressurises children to do pointless exams or home educate where sats matter even less.

Eolian Mon 30-Jan-17 12:45:58

Some of the responses here are harsh. The OP may not know that it is the norm on MN to express nothing but contempt for tests and work towards tests. It's only learning if it involves 'messy play' or 'free flow play' apparently hmm

That's a bit unfair. I don't see anything wrong with wanting your child to learn and enjoy learning (proper learning, not just 'messy play') rather than being taught to ever-changing tests whose results aren't actually used in any way that is meaningful for the individual child.

Just because testing at some point is necessary and useful, that doesn't mean that all the testing in our current system is necessary and useful (either in its purpose or its method).

YetAnotherSpartacus Mon 30-Jan-17 12:48:22

Can your children read and write? Are they average or above for their ages?

trulybadlydeeply Mon 30-Jan-17 12:48:27

What age are your DC? Have they learned to read and write to an age appropriate level, or do you have concerns?

What are your concerns over the SATS scores? Have your children scored very low?

I presume you have one child in Y6 as you mention the trip - of course they will need to get to a certain level to move on to secondary school, but you will find that in Y7 they generally repeat much of what was done in Y6 anyhow, in order to ensure everyone is at the same level, and a lot of children tread water at this stage. I have to admit the school does sound lovely - one of my DC is at a primary school where there is a huge focus on academic achievement, and yes, the school scores highly and is top of local tables etc, however I do feel the children miss out on lot of the more "fun" side of education.

Sandybum Mon 30-Jan-17 12:52:13

I'm sorry OP But I've got to agree with other posters - I think this school sounds fine. There should be so much more to education than just learning to read and write.

More emphasis should be placed on what you describe as 'extra curricular activities' to produce a well rounded and balanced approach to education. It sounds as though the school are addressing the low SATS results by offering extra tuition to year 6 pupils.

IMO there is far too much pressure on our children at school in general. They are expected to achieve more at younger ages than in previous years. Childhood mental health issues are rising rapidly. I don't agree with SATS at all and primary school should not solely be about these exams.

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