Skewered at both ends by Sats

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
For the third year running the marking and reporting of my school's national curriculum English tests at key stage 3 have been scandalously mishandled. This would be laughable if it were not so deplorable. The hard work of students and staff has been treated with something close to contempt. It raises the question of the validity and value of Sats.

In 2003, my first year at the school, there was widespread evidence of atrocious under-marking and every paper went back for a re-mark. When the results came back they were substantially improved. Last year full results did not arrive until the penultimate day of the summer term, despite constant calls from the examinations officer.

We were not alone in getting last year's results incredibly late, and so the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's announcement that English Sat results this year would not be out until August 24, two months after the mathematics and science, was all too predictable.

This month we had results for only half of our students when they returned from their summer break. It is now four months since the tests. If a department had shown such sustained inadequacy in its teaching and preparation for the tests, all responsible would be called to account.

If results cannot be delivered on time or assessed with professional rigour it is hard to convince staff and students that it is worth spending so much of our time teaching towards the tests.

Students of all abilities are de-motivated and de-moralised by this inexcusable treatment. The enthusiastic ones have been asking for their English results since June; while the less well-motivated might be forgiven for seeing this as confirmation of their contention that school is a waste of time and effort.

Stephen Black. Head of English. Carshalton boys sports college Carshalton, Surrey

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