Thursday, July 07, 2011

Being a Governor

The highs and lows of being a primary school governor played out today in the space of an hour and a half.  I started the morning with a class of children doing a piece of writing.  Yesterday they went on their school trip to a local woodland area and spent what sounded like a very happy day exploring the woods,  searching for creepy crawlies (aka mini beasts), pond dipping and following a sculpture trail as well as eating their lunch in an old railway carriage.  This morning they spent time talking about what they'd done and then writing an account of the trip.  Concentrating hard on putting a space between words, getting full stops and capital letters in the correct places and trying to use a variety of vocabulary was easier for some than for others but by the time I was leaving they'd all got something down on paper - a few words for some, a couple of pages for others. 
The children really felt they'd achieved something as they proudly showed off their best sentences, or managed to spell a word they'd struggled with.  Their teacher was pleased with the efforts they were making and with the progress they'd made through the year.  I enjoyed observing and taking part in what they were doing.  It brought back memories of my own children at that age and it seems to me that the encouragement to use a variety of different language to describe similar things comes at a younger age than it did for them.
But then to the low point - going along to the staff room and hearing about the appalling marking of this year's writing SATs.  Hearing about the inconsistencies, the low marks, the heartbreak for the teaching staff who know that the children's writing is worth much more than it's been given, made me feel angry and helpless.  Angry because a whole group of children will get lower marks than their work deserves; angry because those lower marks will reflect badly on the school; angry because the marks will probably bring down an OFSTED inspection with all the unnecessary stress that brings, but helpless because nothing I or any other governor does will make it better.  The one crumb of comfort is that it's a national problem.  Schools everywhere are complaining about the marking this year.  So it's not just our school, but that doesn't help those lovely children who worked so hard nor those dedicated and now devastated staff who supported and educated those children. What a way to end the term.

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