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Let's get back to a time when students, not teachers, could be blamed for exam performance

(138 Posts)
noblegiraffe Fri 21-Apr-17 10:11:32

Has the responsibility for exam results gone too far in the direction of teachers? Should feckless students be allowed to fail?

As a teacher I certainly feel under pressure to get students good results, even when they are not co-operating. Even at sixth form now at my school we are expected to chase kids around to make sure they've done a revision plan, done the work they are expected to do, liaise extensively with parents.

I'm also annoyed when kids that I am supposed to be getting through their GCSE are excluded in the run-up to the exams, or are taken out of my lessons (maths!) to do catch-up for other subjects. I need that time to get them the results!

But I also see that teachers need some responsibility for results otherwise they could just phone it in.

How should things be?

shouldwestayorshouldwego Fri 21-Apr-17 10:31:46

I think it is a balance and maybe it has swung too far particularly with results at 16 being predicted by SATs at 11. My yr7 is being set really high targets (in maths), which she was able to achieve in SATs because her primary school basically cancelled everything but Maths and English in yr6. She is more into arts, science and humanities and whilst an 8 or 9 in maths would be lovely it is not really fair on her or her teachers to expect that she will attain that based on a test in yr6. Nor is it fair on other classmates who might not have done so well on the day in their SATs but are nevertheless just as able that the school will be happy for them to get lower grades. I know it isn't always that simple though.

Having said that I wouldn't want a return to my school days when it was a job for life. Some of my teachers couldn't have arranged a piss up in a brewery. They couldn't explain things or give the reason why, but being a selective school many of the children would do well regardless. Don't get me wrong, we did have some very good teachers too but some did not really add to our understanding and my grades were as a result of revision books not the lessons even at A level where 'you don't need to know why we do it' was their catch phrase.

ShanghaiDiva Fri 21-Apr-17 10:32:01

I think education is a three way relationship between the school, parent and the child. As a parent I am there to offer support, test subject knowledge (eg mfl vocab) and ensure my son had a comfortable place to revise. The teacher's responsibility is to ensure ds is aware of the deadlines for exams/coursework, has covered all the relevant material with the class, provides past papers or information on where to access past papers and gives suggestions on how to revise, how to put together a revision timetable etc. Advice on how to revise should be covered in a pshe type lesson rather than taking up subject time. My dd had a lesson on this and she is in year 7 - so plenty of time for students to work out which revision method works best for them and how to manage their time.
My ds is now in lower sixth and studying for the IB diploma. Deadlines are set by the teachers, if students need extra time they need to approach teachers, there is little parent involvement and students are expected to manage their own time and commitments - good preparation for university imo.

rogueantimatter Fri 21-Apr-17 10:43:07

You sound like a brilliant teacher. At my DC's secondary school I got the impression (possibly unfair) that the ethos was, 'Work hard and we'll support you. Slack off and you'll be dismissed as a wrong 'un'.

DD was advised to consider dropping one of her Scottish highers (roughly equivalent to AS levels but used by Scottish universities to offer places) after a poor prelim result. This would not have affected the school's stats because of the way they're measured in Scotland - data is for 3+ highers and 5+ highers but it would have limited DD's choices hugely. Fortunately she sat the exam and got an A.

DS got 4xA and 1B in his highers. Which was great, but the B was unexpected - as were a couple of the As - and he was one of quite a few pupils who didn't do as well in that subject as their prelims and teachers' reports suggested, which does make me wonder if there is a problem in that particular department. Btw not English or Maths. Things like these, unfortunately have a demotivating effect on both my stubborn and rebellious DC.

It can't help when the exam system is so complicated, with assignments etc contributing to the final grade. I sometimes think some of the exams are a test of organisational skills, which is unfortunate in the case of my DS.

I completely agree with you in principle, but as a parent I wasn't willing to let my 17YO's very important grades suffer because of his lack of organisation. TBF he does have a diagnosis of slight ASD which doesn't help. Unfortunately the senior management who bend over backwards to support pupils to get into Oxbridge and medicine, were unsympathetic to his small, but insignificant extra needs.

When HE was free I was of a let them fail - and learn from their mistakes mindset - but now I think it's such a hugely expensive lesson to learn that I made huge efforts to chivvy my two along.

FWIW, IMO schools are asked to do far too much. Teach in complicated ways without text books, provide huge amounts of extra-curricular activities, cover everything in PSE, have policies for every last teeny tiny thing, do ridiculous paperwork, cope with disruptive children and demanding parents. Unfortunately they sometimes get my back up by participating in the 'modern' culture of selling themselves by 'bragging' about their achievements, obsessing about uniforms etc, while failing to address important problems such as drugs being sold on the premises, horrendous sexist language and inappropriate use of mobile phones etc. No wonder so many teenagers have mental health problems. Gah, it's all so complicated.

In principle I agree with you though grin

Goatfucker Fri 21-Apr-17 10:43:57

That's why I would never be a teacher. They will always blame you for everything, everything is your fault. I think it is very unfair on teachers. The thing is, as long as you go into class, do your best, explain the material you are teaching and carry out all your duties as a teacher, this is where your responsibility ends. The rest is not your problem. If certain students are too lazy to do their homework or study for their exams or show up in class at all, it has nothing to do with you. But lots of parents nowadays want to blame teachers for everything that happens to their kids while they are in education.

rogueantimatter Fri 21-Apr-17 10:45:34

oops - small but significant, not insignificant

Instasista Fri 21-Apr-17 10:46:50

I had no support with exams and very few people in my year did (did GCSEs in mid 90s) so I am absolutely for teachers supporting and encouraging their students to achieve- it's performance management for both sides. That said I totally agree it only goes so far and you can't be expected to turn round kids who are genuinely not interested. Although, presumably someone makes the effort to find out why they are so disengaged?

DermotOLogical Fri 21-Apr-17 10:48:25

I fully agree with you Noble. Would you stand for election and become our new education minister?

exLtEveDallas Fri 21-Apr-17 10:50:32

Yeah, I'd never been a teacher. Having spent the last few years working with/for them I have realised that no matter what you do it will never be enough, and it only takes one asshole to ruin it all.

Some kids and some parents will never take any responsibility for their own failings. It's flogging a dead horse.

Trifleorbust Fri 21-Apr-17 12:10:33

I think it is my responsibility to plan good lessons, assess work, differentiate, communicate with parents, apply the behaviour policy and be available at certain times to help those who want/need more input. I don't think it is my responsibility to run round like a blue arsed fly after kids who can't be bothered.

Vietnammark Fri 21-Apr-17 12:56:05

As a parent, I believe it is my responsibility to make sure my children are educated in a suitable way and to a suitable standard. Main stream schooling is one of the tools I use to achieve this.

Badbadbunny Fri 21-Apr-17 14:16:21

It's a shame that we didn't have pressure on teachers to perform back when I was at school. I started secondary school as an A student across the board and ended up with just one O level grade B. If they'd had targets to hit based on my primary leaving SATs, then I'm sure they'd have taken steps to keep me at A or B level!!

Teachers did absolutely naff all for me. I went down a grade every year, every subject, but not a single teacher bothered to ask why or give me any support to get back on track. My trouble was that I was no trouble! I was invisible to them - I turned up and sat quietly in class. Never a single detention in 5 years.

But throughout that time, I was miserable and suicidal due to physical and mental abuse from other pupils - I spent each lesson worrying about what would happen to me at the next break, or which of my abusers I'd be forced to sit next to in the next lesson. So, simply didn't learn anything. Resulting in me handing in poor homework efforts and poor test scores.

When I told teachers about the problems, they basically inferred it was my fault. "Try to stay away from x" was all they could say. Then the same teacher would allocate me a seat on the same table as x during the next lesson! Doh!!

I even had the same useless form teacher for all 5 years. He could clearly see my results going down in every report, but did absolutely nothing for me, even though he'd taught me his subject in the first year so should have know my behaviour and abilities were good!

Bring it on, I say. Teachers need to be accountable. Yes, I fully understand they're only part of the problem, and yes, parents and the pupil themselves also share responsibility. BUT, teachers and schools are in loco parentis do are responsible and can't just shirk their responsibilities by blaming others!

Rudi44 Fri 21-Apr-17 15:28:04

Good teachers should never under estimate the huge impact they can have on a child's motivation for a particular subject. My DD now in Yr 6 loves Maths, this is entirely down to wonderful inspiring teachers and on the flipside, her art teacher I question why she entered teaching in the first place as she seems to have a real dislike of the children and as a consiquence my daughter hates and believes she is 'rubbish at' art. That said as they get older yes, they should share the responsibility, you can lead a horse to water and all that.

portico Fri 21-Apr-17 15:42:57

Has the responsibility for exam results gone too far in the direction of teachers? Should feckless students be allowed to fail?

Noblegiraffe, I agree with you to a great degree. Students have so much resources avilable. However, and it's a big "however" - my son's Biology, Chemistry, Geography and Maths teachers have skipped a lot of lessons and palmed off PE teachers or MFL teachers to "cover" lessons.

Teachers are only culpable where they have not taught prescribed content, and taken no fall back option to teach this to the students. Where they have done so, I agree final exam performance should indeed be the responsibility of the student.

irvineoneohone Fri 21-Apr-17 16:58:44

My ds has few more years in primary, but I totally agree with OP.
I know two children who are way behind, and parents blame teachers.
I've even seen one of them shouting at the teacher at the pick up.
One doesn't even complete homework, since primary children shouldn't be pressured.(Heard it from one parent.)
Teachers are saints.

MaidenMotherCrone Fri 21-Apr-17 17:03:24

Personally I believe it's the responsibility of the student to fulfil their potential. It's their responsibility to put the effort in.

The teacher is responsible for teaching, encouraging and inspiring.

The Parent is responsible for making sure their child is at school, encouraging and inspiring.

I was capable of much more than I achieved, I didn't make the effort. My fault entirely.

TheFifthKey Fri 21-Apr-17 17:05:58

Portico - I don't understand your point about the teachers who have missed lessons. Teachers don't just skip lessons for fun, nor do they choose who covers the class. If a non subject specialist is taking lessons more than occasionally that's almost certainly a funding/recruitment issue. I know schools that simply cannot attract teachers for love nor money, so if you've got a qualified teacher in the room you're doing well, never mind if it's their subject or not.

HPFA Fri 21-Apr-17 20:20:46

In my younger (even more tactless) days I upset a work colleague who was moaning about teachers not being able to get her son to do enough work. Son was in the sixth form. My response was on the lines "in the sixth form shouldn't kids be responsible for motivating themselves?" and it didn't go down too well.

Still think I was right though.

noblegiraffe Fri 21-Apr-17 21:03:14

It really bothers me how much chasing I am expected to do of sixth formers. It really can't be doing them any favours in the long run, even if it does get them better results in the short term.

CauliflowerSqueeze Fri 21-Apr-17 21:23:02

Totally agree with you Noble. 100%.

Schools go on and on about their value of teaching children to be responsible and independent, when everything about the culture of chasing and revision classes encourages irresponsibility and dependence.

PiqueABoo Sat 22-Apr-17 01:04:06

Well one minute school-side thinks not mature enough kids are grown up enough to make decent decisions about important stuff (without reference to parents), and the next they're bending over backwards, treating them like infantile snowflakes.

Reversing that would be good i.e. expecting them to take more responsibility for their own education should help develop the maturity. But lots would do worse without school-side fussing/chasing, so...

The age of criminal responsibility is ten years old. Perhaps we should also treat that as the age of educational responsibility.

Yarp Sat 22-Apr-17 07:35:32

I agree with you, and with LtEveDallas There are just some passive, dependent children, and that attitude is sometimes fostered at home.

But I also worry that the massive weight amount of content in the curriculum and the speed with which it has to be rushed through, at Primary level is turning some children off and really demotivating some. And that's not teachers' fault either

I also think that the current climate has fostered fear in schools, and that is where chasing and fussing (at Secondary: revision classes etc) develops. Again, not teachers' fault, but it takes a strong Head to set an ethos where teachers are not fearful.

JustRichmal Sat 22-Apr-17 07:53:29

II have often though it would be good to select for schools on attitudes to learning rather than ability. All those quiet kids who just want to get on with learning would not then have their learning stifled by the "real characters", proud of the fact they can hold their own in any argument with any teacher.

In sixth form any child interrupting with "Why are we learning this, when will we use it in the real world?" in the middle of an A level lesson should have to spend a year in a real job, stacking shelves or cold calling on phones, before they can return to study.

Yarp Sat 22-Apr-17 08:11:09

I just wanted to add to what I said about the vast content we are trying to ram into children at Primary level. I think it's perhaps at the expense of teaching children how to learn.

troutsprout Sat 22-Apr-17 09:18:20

I think that schools and parents do too much for kids instead of encouraging independence and responsibility for their own actions
So yes, I agree.... but
I also think that expectation on kids, teachers and parents is too high.
I agree with another poster who talked about inflated targets. It's often too much for the child to keep up with ( from the time they enter education ) but then it's too much for either side ( parent or teacher) to maintain too and has meant that parents and teachers have got into this war where they are blaming each other.
Dd was pushed pushed pushed to get a certain level in sats at primary. Now it means she's being pushed pushed pushed to maintain that and with those results clouding the water in secondary . They did nothing but English and maths from yr 5 onwards so it wasn't a true representation .
I want my kids to get their arses into gear preferably before adult hood .. but to do this they need to fail and get it wrong a lot and they get little practice at this at school . Teachers are running around like blue arsed flies after them and we are being asked to support that at home too just so they can get a grade /target based on something they were crammed for when they were 11.
I gone tits up

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