Latest News

The Final Furlong!

21st June 2021

We are now about to hit the final furlong in our race to end the academic year of all years!  As we head into the last month there is little let-up for school staff.  The race we started in September 2020 is not the race we thought we'd entered, however, each and every one of us can hold our heads up high as we nudge our noses through the finish line.  For many of you, you have fulfilled all roles in the racing team; owner, trainer, stable hand, farrier, vet, and jockey! 

Gavin Williamson himself colludes that this year has certainly not been a 'flat race.'  The Education Secretary gave the keynote opening speech at the virtual Festival of Education which is taking place over the current fortnight. He spoke about his wider plans for schools, his regrets over last year’s exams, and plans for primary testing in the next academic year.

There are strong rumours of a white paper being written in the not too distant future.  In a nutshell, though, we are expecting to see a pushing of the vision for all schools to become academies. This at least gives us a head start!

He also said that “later on this year”, the government would be “setting out a broader vision for what our whole school system looks like”.  For our secondary colleagues, there was a whisper of an apology regarding the infamous algorithms experienced during last year's exam season.  Asked if he could do one thing differently, Williamson said “without a shadow a doubt” it would be the government’s approach to grading and assessments last year.  He said there was “no playbook” for dealing with a global pandemic, and that the use of teacher assessments “with moderating element”, was felt to be the “right approach”.

“I think, on reflection, what we saw was an algorithm that didn’t produce the results and the fairness that we expected it to produce. And that was certainly my deepest regret.

“We did go with teacher assessment, but obviously the moderation element that we, as I say all the advice was to have that moderation element at the time.

“We took that approach but I don’t think on reflection that was the right approach.”

In our schools, we salute all of our colleagues who are currently involved in the TAG system, we know how hard you are working to ensure our students receive fair, justified grades.  You all certainly deserve to be in the winners' enclosure at the end of term!

For primary colleagues, the news from Mr. Williamson is that SATs are set to return in 2021/22.  We have been told to prepare for the full suite of assessments in the next academic year to additionally include; statutory reception baseline assessment, timetables checking in Year 4, and the phonics check which will be rolled out for Year 2 pupils in the Autun term.  In relation to the racing season, I can only think he was referring to the Grand National (a few high hedges to get over!) rather than Royal Ascot.

Whatever type of horse race you might feel you are participating in at the moment, remember there's still the Euros and Wimbledon as alternatives!

Whilst it may at times have felt that your 'spectators' have not quite fulfilled the 'Royal enclosure' at Ascot type of dress code and behaviour you'd have liked, please take some time to raise a glass of fizz to yourselves and the fabulous achievements you have made this year.  The final furlong is in sight!

Kathryn Krynicki, Primary Leadership Support  Athena Schools Trust

Latest Tweets