I have been a nervous wreck for the past few days waiting for GCSE results. Not my own, you understand, or even a nephew or niece this year. No, I have been waiting, as a teacher, for my Spanish class' results. You teenagers and parents have it easy you see. You may get this terrifying, stomach churning, nail biting wait two or three times in a lifetime. I have had it just about every August for the last 17 years, and the experience only gets worse as the responsibility for results gets placed more and more on teachers, and less on less on pupils.
On the whole I am pleased with the results my pupils have achieved this year. They range from a grade B to F. This time around I had a middle ability group, all lovely kids, all received the same teaching, encouragement, support, feedback over the two year course. How then can the results vary so much? In Mr Gove's world, they should all have achieved a B/C grade. I'll tell you how. The pupil with the F grade did the minimum of work. He did not submit a single piece of coursework of any consequence. The same applies to the E and D grades. I can teach to the very best of my ability but I cannot do the work for them That would be illegal and disciplinary action for fraud is something I could do without to be honest.
So now I wait to see what my 'residuals' are. This I how much I am deemed to have improved or not on the grades the pupils SHOULD have achieved. This is worked out by some ridiculous system called the FFT - Fisher Family Trust, or Fisher Price as most of my colleagues prefer to call it. From what I can tell this is an entirely random calculation based on where you live, what you ate for breakfast and what newspaper your parents read. For example Lowestoft/Quavers and Red Bull/The Mirror = E
Burnham Market/Homemade Muesli and Fresh Orange Juice/The Guardian = A*. OK, it is based loosely around how a child is doing at Key Stage 2, when they are aged 8-11. Now, I could be going out on a pedagogical limb here, but I would guess that at this age most children are a) fairly amenable to doing what their teachers and parents say b) not full of hormones and interested only in their social life and the opposite sex c) not experimenting with alcohol and recreational drugs. How a child is performing at 9 can surely not determine how they should do at 16 and yet this is what we are all judged on.
I have my own system for working out what grade they should get called the Sian Harrison Indicator Test. It goes like this. Take the average grade the pupil achieves aged 13. Divide by the number of piercings they have. Take away the amount of time they spend on a games console. Add the amount of time they spend doing homework. Take away the number of units of alcohol they consumed the night before the exam. Divide by the number of times they say 'Why do we have to learn Spanish anyway'. Based on the above system I would say I am outstanding and deserve a pay rise!