Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 381 – Attainment Vs. Progress


“What is more important? How well they do, or how far they’ve come?”

Ritu Bhathal

Thank you, Spidey, for handing the mic over to me, today, since the above quote is something that is weighing heavily on my mind right now.

It is this time of year that all teachers or at least teachers of some year groups are under a different set of pressure than the usual.

Assessment time.

Data time.

Report time.

I know secondary schools are awaiting the GCSEs and A-Level Exams to finish, they they have to wait for the grades to be announced in August, but in Primary schools it is the time for the Key Stage One and Key Stage Two attainment data to be submitted (our school’s was just the other week) and this coming week, I have to, with my colleagues, submit the first data in two years to our Local Authority, for the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.

We have to report on Attainment, which is whether a child has reached a particular level within many areas, or GLD, a Good Level of Development. Now, after a disrupted couple of years, this cohort included, data may look lower, across the board. This class managed a whole year in school but suffered lockdowns last year in their preschool year, and some didn’t even attend a nursery, because parental fear of Covid was, naturally, high. So there are still gaps in some children’s experiences meaning we have been trying to patch holes in their development, physically, as well as emotionally, before we could really see the difference in more academic subjects.

When we first inputted the data I felt deflated. We have worked so hard with these children, and I know they have worked tremendously hard, too. I spoke with our data guru, the Deputy Head, about my disappointment.

He pointed the obvious out, with regards to what we started with, compared to where we are now. And compared to the same official data of last year’s cohort, where they experienced two lockdowns. We are definitely on an upwards trajectory, however, I hate how this could reflect on the kids and us as a whole, because, as I said, everyone has worked their behinds off to support the children, school staff, and parents alike, as well as those little mites, themselves.

Then he said, (I am ad-libbing here, but it was the jist of the conversation!) “But, what about the progress? That’s the most important thing. And remember, just because we are submitting data now, it doesn’t mean they stop learning now. They still have over four weeks with you. More progress will be made in that time, too.”

And he is right.

The difference between Attainment data and Progress data is that while Attainment looks at whether children have met expected goals, Progress sees where they started and charts the steps they have made over the year, themselves. So a child who is at expected levels may have made the age-related expected steps of progress, (in our tracking system, five steps) but a child who doesn’t appear to have met these goals, may have started considerably lower, and still made five, or even six or seven steps of progress bringing them that much closer to the expected goal.

This is why I truly despise Assessment-based judgements, as we aren’t looking at an individual child and what their unique progress is. Instead, we have to judge on these sometimes unrealistic scales, which in the Reception year, assume that all children are at the tail end of their fifth year when some of my children aren’t even five yet.

Now, I am so proud of all these children who have, as all my pupils do, wormed their way into a permanent place in my heart. Those who have hit their targets deserve a big well done, but those who haven’t, have pushed themselves, and the progress data shows how far they have come, and that almost makes me even prouder of their achievements.

So, as. I step off my soap box, what do you think is more important – how well they do or how far they’ve come?


Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 353 – Relief


“Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.” 

Victor Hugo

Thanks, Spidey, for another appropriate quote!

Last week we were all on tenterhooks, at school. One of the other schools in our academy received ‘The Call’ from Ofsted. Usually, this means that if you are due, too, there is a good chance they could call you, especially if they are in the area, and this other school is literally 10 minutes away from us.

And we are overdue, now…

Monday to Wednesday are the big days… if you haven’t heard by Wednesday, consider yourself safe, for that week, at least!

But, there is still a week of school to go, until the break And next week is a Christmas filled week. There is no way that we are on the curriculum timetable, in the same way as usual.

The kids, for one, are high as kites, thinking of advent calendars, filled with chocolate, and high on the idea of a certain big fella in red coming to visit them, with sacks brimming with presents!

And we are in the midst of trying to practice nativity plays and making cards, etc., as well as trying to instill the true meaning of Christmas to them!

However, on Thursday, the heads of schools were sent a little missive from the DofE…

In light of the current situation, and with schools expected to put mitigations into place for the chance of a Covid wave, due to the Omicron variant, and what with Christmas leading everyone a merry tune, Ofsted inspection will be put on hold until the new year.


Now, that doesn’t mean we are safe. There is still going to be an inspection, however, at least we can enjoy our festive period without that hanging over our last few days at school, this term!

To say I am relieved is an understatement!

So, is there anything, like the threat of Ofsted, for me, that scares the living daylights out of you?


Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

#SoCS October 9, 2021 – Lid

Linda’s prompt for SoCS this week:

YouYour Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “lid.” Use it in the literal sense, use it in the metaphorical sense, use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

Shhhhh! Can you keep a secret? Can you keep a lid on it? Lips shut? Schtum?

Well, my little secret is that I am writing this whilst a little tiddly, to say the least! I haven’t had a drink for quite a while, and tonight, I have consumed a whole bottle of Gin Fizz… Oops! A WHOLE BOTTLE!

Now, it’s not often that I indulge.

To be honest, we teachers may say we are going to drown our troubles on a Friday night, but I know that I, for one, am so shattered, that a drink would just send me to sleep, early, and I can do that without the liquid assistance!

However, tonight, I felt the need to. It’s been five weeks since we went back to school. I have a wonderful, but very challenging, class. Three children who require one to one support, but who don’t have it, yet, because of resource. Another who has medical needs on top of other needs, too. All of them are loveable children, who need specialist provision, but the world around us thinks they need to be part of an inclusive education.

I’m all for inclusion, but sometimes, it isn’t the right thing for those kids.

I find my inputs interrupted, every time, as one of my lovelies walks through the rest of the class, like a bulldozer – no spatial awareness – to come and sit on my lap, or to take my hand and lead me to whatever they want, at the time. Or, in groupwork, my group is left unattended, for a few moments, as I deal with a meltdown, or an issue with one of the children who have these needs.

You see, these kids find it hard to conform to what the rest of the class are doing. They dance to the beat of their own drums, right now. They are still exploring the environment, and can’t follow instructions. Yet, in their own way, they show their own brilliance.

It’s not easy, but the rest of the class have been angels.

They are aware, already, at the age of four, or five, that there are children who have very specific needs, and there is barely any fussing. They just let those children get on with whatever they do, whilst waiting for Mrs B to get back to them.

These kids are superstars, seriously.

All of them.

With needs or not.

All children are blessings.

Did you know that the Cockney rhyming slang for kids is saucepan lids? See, my ramble did have something to do with the prompt, I promise!

And now, I shall sign off, as the words are starting to swim in front of my eyes!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 341 – The Power of Rest


“When you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”


Think I needed this reminder, this weekend, Spidey, thank you!

I have fast learned this over the last few years, you know, putting my physical health ahead of everything else.

I just recently read a post I had written several years ago, about how, as a teacher, I, along with many of my colleagues, find it hard to admit being unwell, slogging away, for fear of getting behind, evenif we desperately need a day in bed, to recover from an ailment.

But now, I am of the firm belief that self care comes first.

Now, I’m not talking about taking random days off to get my nails done, but knowing when I really need to stop, recharge my batteries, before continuing on the constant treadmill that is life.

School isn’t going to stop. And I can run myself ragged, being there every day, in sickness and in health (yup, it’s like being married to my job!) but, if something was to happen to me, school won’t suddenly cease to operate. they will just carry on with a repllacement Ritu in town, because they have to. (Well, it won’t be a new Ritu, as such, there’s only one of me, but you know what I mean!)

So, if I am to give the best to my job, as well as to my family, my writing, and my own interests, I have to know when to stop, or slow down, and rest.

THis past eighteen months, the whole pandemic, on top of moving house has meant that I have barely enough enercy for the basic daily life tasks, and school, meaning much less time for me to write. But I realise that I could burn the candles at both ends, and end up with words that are filled with no passion, and myself suffering from burnout.

I am not willing to do that. Whichever words flow from my fingers, need to be words that mean something, so, until I feel on an even keel, they are there, in my mind, and ideas jotted down as they come.

And with work, I have realised that I have to draw a line somewhere, too, and not bring my stresses home with me, if I can help it.

This, on top of feeling a bit unwell this weekend. Those lovely little mites in my class are filled with bugs and germs, and because we have all had less exposure to a lot the last few months, our immune systems aren’t as hardy as the were before. I have a really sore throat, and am tired, obviously.

So, I made sure I did my grocery shopping on Friday evening, so Saturday meant a little lie in. The laundry was done, the house cleaned, leaving the evening, and today free for me to rest up, ready for whatever the next week brings.

Here’s hoping I manage to listen to my own advice… you know me!

So, what about you? Can you recognise when you need to rest, not give up?


Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 340 – Inclusion


“Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way.”

George Evans

Thanks, Spidey, for this thought provoking quote, today.

I have completed my first week with my students, and though they are only in for half days, I finished the week mentally, physically, and emotionally drained.

I have been blessed with a lovely class of children. I can see myself falling in love with them all, as I do, every year.

But, for the second year, in a row, the Special Educational Needs, or SEN, is on the rise.

There appears to be a lot more early diagnosises for children on the Autistic Spectrum.

Within our cohort of less than sixty children there are seven, possibly eight, children either already diagnosed, or on the path to being diagnosed with ASD.

That, in itself, isn’t a problem. The Government and DfE promote inclusion, and ensuring learning for all, within mainstream schools, but, when the needs are severe, even us mere mainstream schools struggle.

Some of the children we have will be able to benefit from small group work, and simple interventions. Some are high functioning, so with a little guidance, will be able to access the learning we are providing.

However, there are that handful of four or five who require one to one help, and even with that support, will never access the curriulum we teach, at the same stages as their counterparts.

As teachers, we really want to incude all children in our learning, but what if there are children who really can’t cope? What if we can’t provide the envirmnment that they need to thrive, at their own pace?

It’s tough as a parent, for someone to tell you that your child may have difficulties learning, and that maybe, mainstream school isn’t for them…

But, equally, in the right environment, that child can reach the same destination as the others, maybe a little later, but they could.

I often say to parents who are wavering on accepting that their child may be a little different from the others, that sometimes brains are wired a little differently, meaning they need an alternative way to learn.

My SEN SatNav analogy is that most of us are able to program our learning SatNavs, and get the majority of our class from A to B, via that motorway route. Some children need to use an A road instead. We can still travel with them, even though there might be a little delay in getting to that destination. Then, some children have diversions from the Motorway and the A roads, and they can only take the B roads. They will take longer to arrive at their destination. The road is narrower, so, taking smaller steps to reach the end goalpost, means that it will take longer.

As a teacher in a mainstream school, I can travel that Motorway journey with the class. I can even accompany some of them that need it, on the A roads, but sometimes, the B road needs a different driver, as in a special provision. Somewhere tailored to suit the learning needs of that particular child.

It’s not inclusion, I grant you, but there are children who will not benefit from being pitted against the rest of the class, in an environment that could prove toxic for them, if the right support isn’t in place.

Inclusion is great. But unfortunately, it isn’t for everyone, as much as I’d like it to be.

There, we have the problem. Instead of having places available in special provisions, the powers that be are shutting, or have closed down many of these schools that could cater for the children that need the B road journey. Sure, there’s funding available for the possibility of one to one support, but you have to jump through so many hoops to get it, and even then, you can’t guarantee that you will just find a suitable candidate to support that child. And then there is the fact that many school don’t have the space to create separate areas for children who may need more sensory stimulation, or less, than the others…

So we, as mainstreams schools, are caught between a rock and a hard place. We want what’s best for all our children, and there are times, we simply can’t provide it all, or we can attempt it, but to the detriment of the rest of the class…

Can’t win…

Still, I love my class, and will endeavour to get them to the destination, one way or another…

So, what about you? What do you think about inclusion, or special provisions?


Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

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