Sats the way to do it

16th September 2005 at 01:00
Year 6 teacher Collette Bambury has arranged a special evening for parents and children to come and receive their test results from her in person.

Most families don't turn up, but Roberto comes with his mum and dad and the youngest of his many brothers. Tall and heavily built, Roberto has an animated, shining face and gentle manner. The affection between him and his teacher is evident. Roberto's family are from Namibia; his parents regularly attend parents' evenings and other meetings.

Roberto has got a level 4 for English, meeting the national expected standard for his age, and a level 5 - better than average - for maths.

"You've done absolutely brilliantly, Roberto," Collette says. "We're very proud of you - put it there." Roberto looks pleased as he holds out his hand, but quickly returns to a subdued state. He had hoped for a level 5 for science as well as maths and in class Collette had assessed him as working at level 5. On the day, in the test, he was a couple of marks short and got a level 4. He feels he has failed.

Collette praises his hard work, sportsmanship and popularity in the class.

He has played netball for Camden and is taking a leading role in the forthcoming Year 6 show. For coming to school, Roberto has scored 100 per cent, another rare achievement in Somers Town. "His attendance has been excellent, which really helps," she tells his parents, mindful perhaps of the younger boys coming along. Mum does not hear; she has already left the classroom, chasing after her newly walking toddler.

Roberto might be seen as a textbook example of the idea that if parents support their children, communicate with the school, and have high aspirations for them they will do well, whatever their home circumstances or cultural background.

In fact, all the Year 6 children at Edith Neville have done exceptionally well this year, exceeding the national average in their test results. Most startling are the results in English. Of the 27 children in the class, three-quarters speak English as a second language. Yet the published results will indicate that 82 per cent got level 4 or above in English - "phenomenal for our school", says Nasima. Four of the five children who reached level 5 in English were Bangladeshi girls. "If you think about where they started, when they came into nursery with no English, it is amazing," says Nasima. "If you have high expectations, they will rise to it."

In maths the score is in the mid-nineties for those achieving level 4 or above. In fact, only one child taking the test did not reach level 4.

Eleven got level 5; one child got a level 6. In science too, only one child did not reach a level 4; she has just been awarded a statement for her severe learning difficulties.

"I should retire now," Se n throws over his shoulder, as he runs his finger down the yellow carbon list of names and numbers. He means that the results are more likely to go down than up next year, because of the characteristics of the year group. And when a school slips in the league tables, the general interpretation is that that school is getting worse.

Collette Bambury's hopes for the children she has taught for two years are not measurable in tables. "I just hope they're all going to be really happy," she says, "whatever their decisions are. They are happy now, so you just want them to stay happy."

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