There can’t be many roles where you can complete a job two months early and, instead of being rewarded, have to just carry on with additional workload. Yet for Year 6 teachers, we have this strange window of opportunity now: we have our classes for perhaps a further eight weeks or more, but the judgements on their final success at primary school have already been made.
Having spent most of the year gearing up for the tests – and whatever you might think about them and their place in education, there’s no doubt that they remain at the back of Year 6 teachers’ minds all year – we now find ourselves without the same goal to aim for.
The temptation to step back and ride out the last few months is strong, and the challenge of re-engaging the children who know that they have just weeks before moving on is a tough one.
But we can’t abandon everything quite yet. Let’s leave aside the hideous business of writing moderation for the moment and consider what else is set out before us. For a start, there’s plenty to be done by way of preparation for the end of the academic year. You’ve probably got some sort of final performance to put together – one of the joyous things you love on the night, although it’s never quite clear whether you’re delighted because it’s such a thrill to watch, or you’re just glad the rehearsals are finally all over.
Then there’s the transition business. Just as you’ve started to realise how much you like the children you’ve got, it’s time to start passing them on to someone else. That probably means a short conversation with someone from the secondary school who will instantly forget everything you’ve ever mentioned, followed by a conversation with your Year 5 colleague about the motley collection heading your way for September.
Perhaps you’ve also saved sex education for the summer term. After all, there’s nothing like an afternoon in an overheated classroom discussing the ins and outs (if you’ll excuse the phrase) of exactly why it is that Max’s voice seems to be all over the place during the register or just what it was their parents must have done to conceive them as a lead-in to eventually watching that awkward video. Of course, if you happen to be pregnant yourself, there’s nothing you can do to prevent that tricky “we know what you’ve been doing” look, either.
Then there’s sports day, parents’ evenings, report writing, leavers’ certificates and end-of-year parties to organise. And of course, among all these, you’ll probably want to make up for all the art and music time lost over the remainder of the year where suddenly the passive voice seemed just too important to miss.
It’s no wonder that by the time they reach secondary school some children feel like they’ve done no maths for months and can’t remember how to write the date. So in among all the chaos, make sure to set aside some time for normality. It might not be things quite how they were, but there’s something reassuring about some consistency in a time of change.
So for their sakes and yours – and for their teachers in September – find a bit of time every day to keep to the routine. It might not be a daily hour of English and maths right through to July, but it probably wouldn’t do anyone any harm to have 30 minutes of arithmetic practice to keep those skills at hand, and a decent bit of writing every now and again.
Although if you’ve just done the sex ed, maybe just some time playing rounders will do.
Michael Tidd is deputy head at Edgewood Primary School in Nottinghamshire. He tweets @MichaelT1979