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What keeps me awake at night - even if my students achieve their target grades, it isn't good enough

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I have just completed the first round of progress checks for my classes at school. We have to predict what we think they will achieve at the end of the year, given how they are working at the moment. On the system we use, there is a button to press which, rather funkily, traffic-light colour-codes the levels entered.

Nearly all of my students will achieve their target level grade by the end of the year.  Hooray!  We use ambitious targets (FFTD +10) to ensure challenge and rigour. Hold on though. I’ve pressed the colour-code button and they have come up "amber" – a warning light.  I’ve double-checked – yes, they’re on target, with a couple above. I check with my head of department. "Yes, that’s right, the head has said that achieving targets isn’t enough. They have to achieve OVER their target. You’re assessed against this for your performance management."

"What, even though these targets are the aspirational targets anyway, so the students will be over-achieving if they achieve their targets?"


Hmm. This is what keeps me awake at night. Target grades simply aren’t good enough any more. Why not? Not everyone can be above average – the law of averages dictates that is impossible. And yet, that is what I am expected to do. And I don’t know how to do it.

I look at my classes – my poor Year 11s, who are already looking exhausted with the volume of work they are given from everywhere, not just me; my Year 7s, who are losing the shine from their new-starter faces; my Year 9s, who can’t understand why their best isn’t good enough.

I spend every night planning and marking. My husband is almost world champion at Call of Duty online because we spend so little time together during the week. I am working so much to try to get these numbers – I mean children – better.

It frightens me. It saddens me. And it makes me want to jack the whole thing in.

The writer wishes to remain anonymous

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