Dear Parents…

Dear Parents,

When you receive your child’s report this year, things might not look as clear as they once did. Having spent years getting your head around levels and sub-levels, I’m afraid they are no more. And as much as this might come as a shock to you, believe me, we as a profession were no more prepared for it.

It comes at a time when – as you’ll know – so much else has changed in our schools. Teachers the length and the breadth of the country have been doing our utmost to provide the smoothest and most effective transition for your child as we move from one national curriculum to another, but it hasn’t been easy.

It means that when you receive the report on the attainment of your child at the end of this academic year, the picture may look very different from the past. Children who were comfortably on track for their age will suddenly and unexpectedly appear to be falling behind. Those who were flying high may seem no longer to be.

Your child’s school may well try to explain this in its covering letter. Please be reassured that they are not simply covering their backs, or trying to paper over cracks. The reality is that the goalposts have moved so significantly that it has been impossible to keep on track. Your child may well have made excellent progress this year, and yet still be showing as not yet attaining the required standard.

Treat that with the caution it deserves.

Let me illustrate with an example. In the past, KS2 children who were achieving well in maths might have explored the notion of probability, allocating fractions to likelihoods of events and working out the chance of things occurring. All of that work is now ignored: the new curriculum does not include it, and so the attainment scores will not recognise it. That your child may well have excellent knowledge and skills in this area would count for nothing.

Instead, those same children are now expected quickly to fit in three years’ worth of fractions work that never previously existed. Content that was previously covered in Year 7 and 8, is suddenly now expected of our 10-year-olds. The issue is repeated for aspects across the subjects, and age ranges.

Be reassured too, that as a profession we don’t warn you of these things because we have low expectations or don’t want to strive for these new challenging goals. Already schools are doing their utmost to fill those gaps, to adjust their curricula, to provide the extra direction and support pupils need. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. And similarly, a four-year Programme of Study cannot be covered in 30 weeks.

In time, all of our children will work through the national curriculum at the expected rate, and numbers  of children working at the expected standard will rise. This won’t be a reflection of some brilliant work achieved by the government, but rather of teachers adjusting what they teach to meet the new requirements.

So apologies, parents. We recognise that it’s confusing, indeed worrying in cases. We’ve been confused and worried too. Doubtless your child’s teacher will be able to reassure you of the progress they have made this year, and their school will be able to explain how they’ve set out to change things to meet the new requirements.

But this year more than ever, I’d urge you not to panic when you see the score, or tick-box, or highlighted grade. Take time to read the paragraphs so carefully drafted by your child’s teacher that highlight what your child has achieved and where they need to go next.

There is no need to presume that anyone has failed your child. As ever, teachers will be doing the best to provide the best possible education within the parameters set by the government. If you have worries, then of course, ask. As a profession we don’t yet have all the answers (we’re still waiting, too!) But the teachers who work with your child know much more about them than any grade, score or tick-box will ever tell you.

So read the report, take note of the assessments, but most importantly, think back to how your child has grown this year, and what they now know and can do that is new to them and you. And share your pride with them of what they have achieved.

Let us do the worrying about how we pull together the curriculum to meet their needs: we promise – we’re experts at it.

Teachers tackling the new curriculum and its assessment may find my free resources useful.


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95 thoughts on “Dear Parents…

  1. julietgreen 10 May 2015 at 5:11 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on How do we know? and commented:
    This should go out with all reports, I think.

  2. BekBlayton 10 May 2015 at 7:01 pm Reply

    Fantastic as usual…. Been thinking about this as we hurtle towards report writing time!!

  3. hayleyearl 10 May 2015 at 10:12 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on The Musings Of A Teacher and commented:
    Michael Tidd says here what every SLT and Assessment Leader has been wanting to say to their children’s parents.

  4. hayleyearl 10 May 2015 at 10:15 pm Reply

    As ever, Michael, fantastically put. I have reblogged this so that so many of the people I know will read what I have been telling them for months.
    Thank you!!!

  5. ramblingrectorblog 10 May 2015 at 11:35 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on ramblingrectorblog.

  6. Daniel J. Ayres 11 May 2015 at 7:41 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Education Web Gems.

  7. […] about where their children should be in their levels – though all that is changing (and see this post here for a great summary of exactly how it’s changing). Is your child as bright as next door’s child? Should you get private tuition? Should you […]

  8. joninashby 11 May 2015 at 11:23 am Reply

    “…school will be able to explain how they’ve set out to change things to meet the new requirements.” – all they need to do is print this article and send it home with every child. Why keep parents in the dark so that we ‘worry’ in the first place?

    • Michael Tidd 11 May 2015 at 12:07 pm Reply

      I think that’s my point. Schools are not keeping parents in the dark: schools are pretty much finding their way in the dark. You’ll notice that I also wrote: “Your child’s school may well try to explain this in its covering letter”. Schools will make every effort to explain the changes to parents; if they want to include this article they’d be welcome to.
      If there is confusion or worry, then perhaps we haven’t quite done that as well as we’d like, but the confusion is not of schools’ making.

  9. theplews 11 May 2015 at 6:45 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Big Blog of Teaching Ideas.

  10. Anton Heseltine 12 May 2015 at 7:32 am Reply

    For me, the tone of this article is too negative. It is a small world and people are much more mobile than they have ever been. Most of the immigrants coming into the UK are better educated (have achieved higher standards) and younger (are filling posts at a younger age) than their UK equivalents. Standing still is not an option. Change is an inevitable necessity.

    I have a huge respect for very many of the teaching profession. What concerns me though is that too many in the profession say things that give the impression that they are not up to the job when in fact they are excellent at what they do.

    An example of this is the bleating in this article about being kept in the dark. You know, most of the working people everywhere are in the dark about their organisations strategic goals and targets. However, I hear less bleating and negativity from people who do not work in education.

    Now I am not saying that is a good thing – in fact those organisations that do communicate well with their workforce in this regard always stand out as being top class outfits. It would be better for everyone if the DfE did the same. We know this. We don’t need teachers constantly bleating on about it.

    • Michael Tidd 12 May 2015 at 8:02 am Reply

      That’s an interesting view.
      Not one I agree with.

    • Roger Anderson 12 May 2015 at 12:26 pm Reply

      You really like the word “bleating”, don’t you?

    • Pep 13 May 2015 at 10:57 pm Reply

      Having now had my primary-aged kids at school in three continents, I completely disagree with your point, Anton. I see our school here trying to rush through the curriculum, I see pressure to learn things earlier and quicker, and I see kids not getting enough time to understand or consolidate their understanding of a topic before they have to rush into learning a new one, particularly in maths.This won’t make them get better grades at A level. It will put many kids off school. It will make kids label themselves failures and give up or get stressed earlier and earlier. It risks taking the natural joy of discovery and killing kids’ innate inquisitiveness and excitement. Particularly for the younger children in their year group. And those whose parents can’t or don’t help at home. And those who aren’t quite so academic. Education shouldn’t be a race. Politicians should keep their noses out and leave it to educators.

      And Michael, thank you for explaining the impact of these changes and the fact that kids may not have covered everything. I had not realised this.

      • Jo Lewis 13 March 2016 at 11:51 am Reply

        Very well said and just what I was about to say! When will government learn to leave schools to the teachers and stop pressurising both them and their pupils. So pleased I was at school in the 50’s!

      • Linda Freestone 16 March 2016 at 11:33 am Reply

        I totally agree with your comments. It is as if you read my mind and wrote it down. Very well put!!!

    • idiamond92 21 May 2015 at 8:15 am Reply

      Maybe we bleet on about it because we know how harmful these sudden and ill though out changes are to the precious children that we teach.

    • Humbug 11 July 2015 at 8:18 am Reply

      I agree with Anton Heseltine. The phrase ‘you cannot teach a teacher’ applies. The communication skills of The Teaching unions and certain teachers in general are quite poor for educated people. The Government are ‘the boss’, like it or lump it. In what I call the real world, my boss tells me what to do, and however much you don’t like it, the Government do the same. It’s called management, it’s called negotiation, it’s about trying to ease the path of changes to your preference….but why not try to do it positively? Rather than always ‘bleating’ (see what i”ve done there?), and plainly belittling any talk of change or becoming high and mighty about how hard you work. I work hard, others work hard. But we didn’t choose teaching, we didn’t choose a profession with a strong union and don’t have that luxury of support. But I’m also an educated parent. I have views on education, I have yes to see what goes on, I an not and won’t accept any talk of my lack of understanding by ‘educationalists’ when I enter a debate or discussion. My views are valid, like them or not. I have the utmost respect for the job, like I do nurses, doctors and the police, but I also live and work in a community of educated non teaching contempories who are also parents, and to communicate in the negative all the time isn’t constructive, it isn’t demonstrating your communicating skills or getting me and others on board to your argument. It comes across as arrogant, as mentioned, it looks like you describe a lack of ability to change (as nothing ever stays the same) and generally winds people up rather than gets the discussion point across properly.
      And guess what? I know the raft of counter arguments and objection will come streaming in, along the arrogant and negative manner I describe. How do I know? I have a tried and tested monthly debate with a deputy head virtually every month, and nothing new is ever brought to the table.

      • Michael Tidd 11 July 2015 at 9:03 am Reply

        I’m a bit confused by this. I’m not trying to get you on board to any argument. The letter is not complaining about what is changing. It’s merely trying to point out to parents that change has happened, it has happened fast, and that therefore they ought not to panic when they first see reports which don’t fit the usual pattern.
        I agree entirely that the teaching unions don’t always communicate well with the wider public. However, it seems that some people will perceive any discussion of mismanagement as ‘bleating’. The pace of change has been what went wrong; I’d suggest that even the DfE recognise this now.
        I rather suspect that your regular discussions with a single teacher might have coloured your reading of this letter. But we’re not all that person.

        • Humbug 11 July 2015 at 12:04 pm

          I’ll accept the correction of misread intent of the piece. I used a broad brush, and yes, it isn’t a brush that should paint everyone. I accept that as well.

          I’ll stand by my comments, perhaps misplaced in response to your piece, of how me as a member of the wider public, and a parent, feel a little bit jarred by how the teaching profession , perhaps some sections of the more unionised element, give an over bearing portrayal of being martyrs to the cause. It’s a personal view, and I wish it wasn’t, but there you go. Teaching and passing on knowledge is a great thing, and as a parent I get an enormous kick from doing it myself. What I don’t go along with is constant battles with the Government in a less than constructive manner, again, not connected with your piece. Outside of the school envelope, in industry, there are small battles that you let go, to be able to better influence the bigger picture.

          I’ll leave it there, as I’m off topic. Apologies for any random trolling that it might be felt has occurred, none intended. It’s the keyboard warrior anonymity effect, and I should know better, but the origin of me reading was a Facebook share…….by a Teacher that I know 😄 cheers

        • Michael Tidd 11 July 2015 at 12:07 pm

          No problem – thanks for coming back to comment again. I agree entirely that sometimes the unions do us no good in the public domain. It’s worth noting, though, that many teachers share that view. 🙂

    • Alaina Goodenough 11 March 2016 at 5:58 pm Reply

      You clearly do not have a child that these new changes are affecting, this years sats have had the bar moved considerably higher. I agree standards may need raising slightly but not all in a significant short space of time.

  11. teachertalk 12 May 2015 at 5:47 pm Reply

    Anton Heseltine, I find your comments contradictory and negative. You quite rightly point out that organisations perform much better if everyone has a shared vision that is communicated well. You also point out that communication from the DfE has perhaps been lacking (I would strongly agree with both of these points). Yet, strangely, you go on to accuse teaching of “bleating” for highlighting the lack of planning and communication regarding the scraping of levels.

    My view, probably not shared by you, is that if there is an issue it is our duty as a profession to highlight it and discuss and debate professionally, not just ignore it and hope it goes away. Teachers highlight these issues, not because they are “bleating”, as you suggest, but because they want the system to work well for all involved, especially for the children.

  12. Clare 13 May 2015 at 3:23 pm Reply

    Thank you, Michael. This is extraordinarily helpful, and mirrors some of what my 11-year old son’s school have been trying to tell us about SAT’s this year. Thank you to you and all teachers who work so hard to prepare our students in an ever-changing environment. However, I really worry about how this will knock a whole cohort of students’ confidence, which will have a lasting impact on their academic achievement. I know my son has really started to berate himself and get upset when he doesn’t do well on tests that he is not well prepared for. He is already not very academic (bright, but would always prefer to be out on the sports field), and this frantic preparation for new material in SAT’s has just convinced him all the more that he does not like school… 😦

  13. Jo Davey 15 May 2015 at 8:32 am Reply

    We’ve never had to put levels on reports anyway- only comment on their achievement so shouldn’t be any difference ( year 2 and 6 NC assessment levels sent ina separate letter).

    • Faye Brook 16 May 2015 at 1:56 am Reply

      Anton Heseltine: any relation to Michael perchance? Or just a coincidental namesake?

      Great post. My daughters’ school ran a curriculum evening during which they ‘not in so many words’ conveyed similar messages. Shame it was after parent consultation evening, which had us all thoroughly confused but very helpful (for those who attended) nonetheless. Especially when they flashed up examples of what year 3-6 pupils were now expected to know/do and most of the parents in the room were stumped (including myself, a straight A/A* student and 1st class hons graduate in my time). Finally, why does the government, in it’s infinite ‘wisdom’ look to the likes of Singapore as examplars rather than Scandinavian counties like Denmark and Sweden who rate highly in both happiness and attainment?

  14. kerry 17 May 2015 at 9:45 pm Reply

    Thank you for letting us know. Your statement ‘Content that was previously covered in Year 7 and 8, is suddenly now expected of our 10-year-olds.’ made me think.

    Who is writing theses expectations?
    Do the teachers have an input on these changes?
    Are we setting our children up, to fail? making them feel that their not good enough!

    As parents/ teachers etc, Can we challenge the National Curriculum expectation?

    • Michael Tidd 17 May 2015 at 9:57 pm Reply

      The programmes of study were written by various groups under Michael Gove’s tenure. There was a consultation and some changes were made, but now it is what it is.

      • Jane McCourt 7 July 2015 at 5:04 pm Reply

        Michael, I have been out of teaching for a few years, due to a school buy out in the independent sector and redundancy. I have done bits of supply, but feel so behind the times now. Any recommended reading for me to catch up? I am just desperate to get a job…. but in my 50’s it is looking bleaker. Any help would be so appreciated. THANK YOU.

  15. *VV@|d ®@m* 17 May 2015 at 10:28 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Diary of a Distressed Dad and commented:
    Definitely worth a read.

  16. EDRU 18 May 2015 at 12:39 am Reply

    Not acceptable I’m afraid – would my bosses accept poor reasons for not performing – teachers have a responsibility to ensure children receive the best education, I’m afraid I don’t buy into your explanation…surely as teachers (inc Headmasters) have a duty to ensure you teach to the best of your ability, and if that is not achievable, then perhaps another job opportunity may be the best way forward…we all work to constraints an red tape, I see this being no different – get in the real world and stop covering your tracks. #frustratedparent

    • Michael Tidd 18 May 2015 at 6:43 am Reply

      Thanks for that considered and measured view.
      But what’s red tape got to do with it?

    • Lp 18 May 2015 at 6:56 am Reply

      Consider this analogy. You’re 2/3 into a 5 year building project. You’ve followed the blueprint and adhered to the building standards and regulations. You’re doing a good job so far, but then the blueprint, standards and regulations all change. Your building has to be changed to reflect this, right down to the foundations. No extra time, no extra money. What other profession would accept this?

    • Mottie 18 May 2015 at 7:48 pm Reply

      Edru – a totally blinkered view of the profession you hold. You have no conception of the job. Jog on.

    • Phill 18 May 2015 at 9:40 pm Reply

      They have scrapped the system of levels and not replaced it with anything. Levels for years have been the currency used to measure attainment and progress. A crude analogy would be to imagine they scrapped pound sterling as a measure of value and exchange, didn’t replace it with an alternative but expected shops to continue trading and to price things fairly and accurately despite having no currency. What do you mean that would be madness? 😀

    • Lucie BD 19 May 2015 at 12:34 am Reply

      The point is that the teachers are performing – and performing well – but they are being asked to do something that is not possible. You are confusing process with outcome. The teachers have altered their process but children being people not physical objects they are the rate limiting step.

  17. Woman Working With Words 18 May 2015 at 8:07 am Reply

    Reblogged this on Woman Working with Words.

  18. Chris Waite 18 May 2015 at 10:53 pm Reply

    “are now expected quickly to fit in three years’ worth of fractions work that never previously existed.” Please I’m on your side I’m not having a dig here – but how on earth can covering fractions take 3 years?!?! Particularly if there is already an general understanding of fractions given the background in probability.

    • Michael Tidd 18 May 2015 at 10:58 pm Reply

      It’s not that fractions, per se, takes three years to teach. But consider that the curriculum has been carefully planned and structured (presumably by experts), and they have divided content over the four years of Key Stage 2. They have chosen to spread the fractions content across all four year groups. There isn’t lots of spare time waiting to be filled – we have a packed curriculum. Except, where ordinarily in Year 6 a teacher could rely on children having covered the Y3, Y4 and Y5 fractions content, that is no longer the case. It means a Y6 teacher has to teach the whole of the already crammed Y6 curriculum, and try to backfill all the content that has been moved down into lower year groups that those children would otherwise miss. Of course, it’s at the extremes of examples, but it is intended to illustrate the point. By “raising the bar”, i.e. moving content down the year groups, there is now a backlog of things that need to back-filled in this way to prepare children for the new high demands of later year groups.

  19. Chris Waite 18 May 2015 at 11:09 pm Reply

    I apologise if I’m missing the point but going from probability to fractions is not raising any bar at all. The bar is being lowered.

    • Michael Tidd 18 May 2015 at 11:41 pm Reply

      I think you’d need to look at the level of demand of the two tasks. Your argument is a bit like saying French is easier than Physics.
      Children in Y6 will now be expected to undertake work with fractions that was previously expected 2 or even 3 years later in the past.

    • mathman 13 March 2016 at 2:55 pm Reply

      before: what word would you use to describe the likelihood it rains tomorrow?

      now: express (5x-1)/(x+2)(x+3)^2 as partial fractions. in the form A/(x+2) + B/(x+3) + C/(x+3)^2

      fractions goes on to some fairly high level stuff and so does probability, Michael has clearly just used two mathematical concepts as an example of what is going on. whether you personally find fractions easier than probability is irrelevant, both areas are complicated enough that they are involved in the curriculum all the way through to A-level.

      my example was extreme and in fact they are not moving Core 4 maths into the KS2 curriculum, it was exaggerated to make a point regarding the complexity of those areas of maths and to not imply one is easier than the other, it entirely depends on the concepts being asked of the students.

  20. Not Just A Mum 19 May 2015 at 12:04 am Reply

    Interesting, some things to think about!

  21. Chris Waite 19 May 2015 at 12:40 am Reply

    Without wishing to be argumentative that’s just a rather crap analogy. I suspect you know that’s a rather crap analogy so I’ll give you a pass this time rather than take the piss.

  22. Rebecca Darling 19 May 2015 at 10:37 am Reply

    I want my kids to be motivated and inspired to be the best people they can be by their teachers. However, disappointingly I think that some teachers also need to look at their teaching priorities.

    One of my children is in year 5, made it onto the school football team this year and as a reward they are having a BYO fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps party organised by the deputy head, during school hours! How about the teacher calls round a couple of local sports clubs and finds a coach who’s got a spare 30 mins to come in to chat to the kids about what it takes to be the best sportsperson you can be? But no, instead he is asking parents to shop for E numbers they don’t want their kids to have.

    Teachers often now mark during the school day, leaving TAs to teach a class of 30. This is inappropriate, especially in KS1. As is junk modelling, which in my youngest child’s reception class basically means sellotaping someone else’s rubbish together with no creative input from the teacher. My mother was a teacher and if she wasn’t out in the evening collecting frog spawn for her class nature table, she’d be at the dining room table marking all evening every evening.

    My year 5 son has also only now had two bits of 20 mins each maths homework set in a five week period (due, apparently to their residential two nights away and half term) this is crazy. You are complaining you cannot help kids adapt to the new requirements of them in maths as quickly as the system wants them to but we aren’t getting any extra homework to do our bit in helping them get there! Even without the curriculum change, this is not enough homework for someone 12 months away from SATs.

    My middle daughter in year 4, would have liked her school to discuss the General Election with her. They did one assembly, that was it. Her friend’s school did a project on it in KS2. They created political parties, held a debate and then had a vote, and a winner was declared. They learnt about how a winning Government can be one that not everyone likes the ideas of, but because of democracy and the rule of law you have to work with it.

    I have huge amounts of pride in the state system. It’s where I was educated. I wish everyone would go to their nearest local school as my three children do.

    There are some incredible, energetic inspiring teachers, but to the rest of you, stop whingeing, adapt to change in your career, put some extra hours in while you go through the transition, or move on if you don’t like it.

    The effect of you being unmotivated is disastrous.

    • Michael Tidd 19 May 2015 at 11:37 am Reply

      I’m sorry you don’t like your children’s school. There are others out there.
      As for your point about working more hours, the DfE evidence suggests that primary school teachers work around a 60-hour week. Perhaps your perception isn’t quite an accurate measure of reality everywhere.
      Of course there are poor practitioners out there, just as there are poor parents. We do well to avoid tarring either group with a single brush, in my opinion.

    • Alison 19 May 2015 at 1:38 pm Reply

      Yes, Rebecca,, as in every work place, there will be some teachers who don’t give every last ounce of their time and energy, yet they are very quickly rooted out or choose to leave what is a very pressurised profession. However, your closing comments seem to suggest that enthusiastic and inspirational teachers are the exception, not in the majority, and that makes me feel very sad. It is a view held by many people whose only understanding of what happens inside the classrooms is from the outside, and it is one of negativity towards the teachers, activities and procedures inside. If parents believe that teachers and school management are not, at every turn, considering what is best for their children, trying to set high expectations, in the broadest curriculum this government seem eager to squash, whilst lighting a love of learning and building self esteem, then what chance do schools have of being valued by the wider population. We care very deeply about your children, and about the impact that changes are having on their education and mental well being.
      Many of our school’s TA s are or were parents of our children, and after a half term or so of involvement within the school, all, wihout exception, and more so those parents who had previously been critical, were astounded by the amount and quality of teaching practice, interventions and activities provided, and by the level of work that,in our case, Year 2 children could achieve. Several commented that their perceptions and presumptions prior to spending day after day in the non stop world of the school had been blown out of the water and they would no longer undervalue or criticise their school. I would urge you to take the opportunity to work or volunteer in your children’s school, as I ‘m sure it would surprise you and allay your worries. There is a strong possibility, by the way, that an infant teacher, at this time of year, is not leaving the class with a TA to do their marking. Cover may well be set up to allow the teacher to take out small groups of children to undertake their KS1 SATs, which we try to deliver in as gentle and non stressful way as possible. Alternatively, the teacher is taking their allocated PPA time, the only time in the whole of a primary school week that we are given non contact time for planning.
      I feel particularly strongly that I wanted to respond to your post as I, too am a parent, with all the same concerns for my two little girls’ lives. However, I am privileged, not only to teach young children myself, but to have inside knowledge that all my colleagues really do care about making my children happy to learn to the best of their ability. I know that hours of their own time are spent creating Wow moments and tracking progress so that lessons can be tailored to each child’s capabilities. I found this article as I was settling down to do some preparation for a themed day tomorrow, and, no, I’m not using tax payer money to catch up on Facebook. This is my day off with my baby girl. I have to work on my day off to keep up with the lesson planning, marking and administration we have to do. I leave school between 5 and 7.30 , never earlier. Sundays are full of dread and planning too, and half term will be, for me, half with the children, and 3 days in school. With every change and new policy from government, I am seeing less and less of my own children. My family is getting the worst of me. If it does get too bad for my family, then one day I may be forced to go elsewhere, but I stay because I want to make a difference. Please don’t read this as whinging, it really isn t. But I don’t think it’s fair that, whilst I m not home in time to put my baby girl to bed or spend quality time with my own family, I still through association feel constantly criticised for not doing enough or caring enough about the children I teach. I hope you find that your school is doing a better job than it might seem.

  23. persephone2015 19 May 2015 at 12:27 pm Reply

    An excellent letter to parents; schools could do no better than to send this to their parents to explain the situation clearly. I may work in an international school, which means we have longer to adjust to all the changes that are happening (thankfully!), but we still have to make all of these changes as well as adapt some of the new curriculum for an international setting (particularly tricky with the new History and Geography curricula). I also see all the teachers I know back in the UK being overwhelmed with everything that is being thrown at them by the government. I have to say, I’m really glad I left the UK when I did as, with everything that has happened to education in the last few years, I don’t want to teach in the UK any more.

  24. PH 23 May 2015 at 7:51 pm Reply

    I am ready for half term, and am flying out to Cyprus to an adults only hotel. I love children – especially my class – but don’t like to be round out of control children! Therefore adults only hotels are perfect for a half term break except for …….the moaning teachers.

    I always pretend that I’m not a teacher.

    As teachers, I think we need to concentrate our energies on enthusing children, rather than spending time worrying and arguing about issues that we have no control of. It is always my aim to work round what is demanded of us and be as efficient as possible without constantly moaning or being perceived as a negative teacher.

    I was delighted yesterday when a 10 year old Y6 boy in my class’s wrote this in his ‘Review of the Year’.

    S.A.T.S week – a time of terror for some, yet a time of joy for enthusiastic learners like us!

  25. […] Both of my boys love mathematics.  They enjoy the challenge that they get from doing maths questions and learning their times tables. They both have since starting school and fort Maxi even before he started school.  When we were offered a free trial of The Maths Factor, a site set up by Carol Vordeman I jumped at it especially since the new curriculum means that maths has just got harder! […]

  26. Fiona Whyman 25 May 2015 at 5:31 pm Reply

    Fantastically written, thank you. Will share with others
    Sorry to see some negative comments (attitudes) on here!

  27. Danny Wotton 1 June 2015 at 9:18 am Reply

    I’ve read with interest your original post and all other responses, and my personal opinion is somewhat middle of the road I’m afraid. First off, thank you for explaining how goalposts are being moved with the curricula and I fully comprehend how difficult this may be but as with most , if not all professions we have to adapt and move on. Yes it may be difficult but I’m afraid the excuses fall on deaf ears. I have worked at sea for 25 years thus far and have seen a plethora of changes in this time from crewing numbers diminishing, technology improving (no formal training) and working hours increasing, to name but a few. But as always we have adapted well and offered no excuses. And just as a final say: I have a Year 6 son who has just sat his SATS and I was able to help as much as I could ( without doing it for him) because I was taught well when I attended the exact same school 30 odd years prior, there were no T A’s just a lone teacher , a very good teacher!!! Kind regards and good luck with all the frustrating changes.

    • Michael Tidd 1 June 2015 at 12:47 pm Reply

      As I say in the post, I don’t think any teachers oppose the idea itself of change, merely that some changes are simply not achievable in the time given. So for this year (and probably next), parents need to be prepared for the change in relation to reality, as well as in comparison to the changing goal posts.
      Personally, I’m a fan of the higher expectations and re-focussed elements… but I also know that my current Y5 class have had a very different experience in earlier years than they would now be expected to do. If such changes were instantly achievable, then it would suggest that they were small; they are rightly ambitious, but ambition takes time, There are no excuses here… just reality.

  28. Camilla Gosden 8 June 2015 at 11:29 am Reply

    At last, some balanced comments from Danny and PH – the over-riding impression given to an interested outsider such as myself is that teachers are always whingeing and bleating about unfair changes, instead of getting on with teaching children to their full potential. I know from our local school that this is not the case, but I’d never guess it from online comments! Why should children not learn fractions in junior school, so that they have the chance to fully master them before moving on to secondary school ready to tackle algebraic fractions, then develop their mathematical understanding to cover differential calculus in their GCSEs, as we did 40 years ago??

    • Michael Tidd 8 June 2015 at 12:17 pm Reply

      As I said in my response to Danny – nobody is arguing that children shouldn’t be taught such things. In fact, I welcome the changes. It is simply the pace and disorganisation of the change that causes problems. This letter was not intended to complain about the content of the curriculum – and you’ll notice if you read carefully that nowhere does it do so. It merely points out that the way it has been managed will cause confusion.

  29. Lucilla Paull 20 June 2015 at 8:42 am Reply

    I really don’t disagree with anything you’ve said as a parent of a 9 and 10 year old. But, as a parent at a school who has failed my children so badly in not supporting them, one through horrific bullying, the other through struggling with the extra pressures of being a young carer for a seriously ill Mum who does her best to keep life fun at home, all trust in that school has gone. So, whilst I removed my bullied child mid year to a lovely new school I will read his report with care as you suggest. My youngest couldn’t move til the end of this term so whilst I won’t necessarily read his report, the new school will and sadly base their streaming on that report – I have already been warned there is an issue with expectations vs test results. So what I am saying as a parent is its just incredibly hard when all communication and trust has been destroyed between schools and parents and the impact of that “rogue” fee paying school can have longer lasting effects. Thank you for your insights on the reports though. By the way, I honestly believe what teachers say is far more important on reports, it’s just a real shame where a school puts results as the be all and end all of everything rather than focusing on progress and the bigger picture. The last report from them just had grades for goodness sake!

  30. Caroline Weldon 23 June 2015 at 1:35 pm Reply

    I have just left the teaching profession. In my 10 years of teaching, I put my heart and soul in to educating each and every one of my students. It really upsets me when people say that they work in other areas which are just as pressured and have to adapt to changes and suffer differ constraints. I have not just been a teacher, but also worked in engineering for 18 years, and I have now moved into running my own business. In each and every other job I have done, I have experienced nothing like the constant pressure and changes that educators suffer from. 90% of all my colleagues put as much of their time,effort and themselves into education, often at the expense of the rest of their lives. I approach this article as a teacher, parent and a worker from other backgrounds. I have worked in several schools, at different levels and know that every school I have worked in has tried to give the right information. They don’t always get it right – but they always endeavour to do the best. Teachers and schools don’t bleat, they are just passionate and feel the need to constantly defend themselves against constant attack. It is such a shame that the people who work the hardest to educate and care for children are always the ones under a microscope. They are not machines and for the most part give their all. Teachers work longer hours than anyone not in the profession or not related to anyone in the profession can comprehend. It is about time people just let them get on with educating, so they don’t have to waste time addressing criticism.

  31. lizard100 3 July 2015 at 6:29 pm Reply

    Great post. Did you leave out a ‘not’ here? Be reassured too, that as a profession we don’t warn you of these things because we have low expectations or don’t want to strive for these new challenging goals.

    • Michael Tidd 3 July 2015 at 6:39 pm Reply

      Not a missing “not”, but maybe the full stop should have been a semi-colon. The point is that we are not issuing warnings like this just because we have low expectations; we do it because we can’t make that sort of change overnight.

      • lizard100 3 July 2015 at 6:54 pm Reply

        I’m a teacher too. Read it several times. Must be Friday July itis. I left the UK to teach abroad because I couldn’t see an end to the negative impacy of political manipulation. I take my hat off to you.

  32. Alan 4 July 2015 at 10:28 am Reply

    An excellent discussion. Time to put a five year moratorium on tweaking the national curriculum

  33. Lou 7 July 2015 at 11:07 am Reply

    I wish that we could remove the politics from education. Changes are constantly made, not for the benefit of pupils, teachers or parents, but for political point scoring. If there could be a long term plan for the UK’s education system, based on evidence and research, implemented by experts in education and child development, then everyone would benefit. I was one of the first to take GCSE’s, followed by a real struggle at A-level, where the syllabus was based on the old o-levels, which didn’t match our knowledge from GCSE.
    My older children will be impacted by the changes this year, and for a moment I felt relief for my youngest. Then I realised at she has another 6 years in Primary school, who know who will be flexing their political muscles by the time she leaves.

    Education is becoming more and more about statistics and childcare. Successive Ministers of Education have forgotten that education is about children, and preparing them for life. Not simply about providing a good story for the daily mail or sun.

  34. Awf 8 July 2015 at 10:37 pm Reply

    Dear Teachers, as a parent I take more notice of written/spoken feedback than of any scores, levels or sublevels. I’ve got to the point of politely asking at parents evenings in one-to-one chats, if we can please NOT talk about targets! It’s very liberating, everyone should try it. I will also welcome the day that schools stop referring to “KS” anything. Means nothing to most non-teachers. Thx.

  35. Kirsty Daffodil 8 July 2015 at 10:37 pm Reply

    As a parent this is very reassuring, thank you for taking the time to write this.

  36. hvlegion 9 July 2015 at 6:37 am Reply


  37. Lucy Eley 9 July 2015 at 7:13 am Reply

    Thanks SO much for this. I’ve been made aware in parent/teacher meetings a few months ago of this but it is so reassuring to read about it more fully and, most importantly, to be reminded that it’s the progress we should be focussing on, not the grade/score.

  38. Reports | Head's Blog 14-15 9 July 2015 at 1:46 pm Reply

    […] Wanted to share what Michael Tidd wrote recently. […]

  39. Tessa 10 July 2015 at 6:44 am Reply

    What a lovely post. It’s School Reports Day for my two today (one KS2) so I’m grateful to have read this in advance. Thank you 🙂

  40. dazbates80 10 July 2015 at 9:25 am Reply

    That’s all well and good, however I was extremely annoyed at my child’s report, he’s key stage 2 and in year 3. His report was very critical and not supportive at all, citing that he needed extra help with numeracy, literacy and this went on.

    When we spoke to the teacher about it they were not very helpful, they finally told us that his report was graded on effort. The additional support was reference to him going to another class as he was doing more advanced mathematics than the other kids in his class.
    This report is absolutely useless as it is very much down to a teachers interpretation of “effort” and is not based on anything academical. It tells me nothing about how he measures against the curriculum.

    How am I supposed to take this report seriously?

  41. mammabint 10 July 2015 at 7:17 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for this, as mother of 4 & school governor, I’ve been blue in the face trying to explain to parents of my son’s yr 5 class the problems faced by teaching staff with the constant changing of goalposts set by this and the previous government. I’ve yet to meet a teacher who doesn’t genuinely care for the welfare of the little people in their care and want the very best for them.

  42. Trudie 11 July 2015 at 10:00 pm Reply

    Thank you for helpful resource at end of you post.

  43. Christina hooley 12 July 2015 at 11:11 am Reply

    As ever, the British grading baffles me beyond anything. I come from a very competitive education system that was based on grading from 1 to 10, anything below 5 being a fail. That is clear. “expected” tells me NOTHING. Now, teachers have a very difficult job. We have 1, 2,3 children and they take all our time. Teachers have 20. And they’re teaching them stuff, and learning them manners, behaviour my eternal gratitude for the amazing job they’re doing with my son. I think we should, if we want more from our children, to top it up at home. Or get tutors. All I ask is a system that gives me a clearer picture. A 7 will be expected, but could be improved. 9 and 10 would indicate that the area is well covered, no worries.

  44. onelonelymomma 13 July 2015 at 10:27 am Reply

    Reblogged this on One Lonely Momma and commented:
    As a very concerned parent of a year three child, who is already on an IEP. Having spoken to her Senco after receiving my baby girls end of year grades, alarm bells began to ring, throughout the year she has been making steady progress, towards her age level grades. Now the goalpost have been moved again, how on earth is she going to cope? I am not looking forward to September when my daughter will be struggling yet again.
    I then came across your blog post, and I thank you for making me feel a little better, by explaining that a tick box does not represent my daughters ability. 🙂 xx

  45. mrsmayblossom 27 July 2015 at 8:41 am Reply

    Fabulous! A copy for every parent, please!

  46. Mel Byers 10 March 2016 at 9:22 am Reply

    Excellent. Spot on. Should be sent to all parents. I’m a Y3 teacher and completely fed up with teaching because of this. Our SLT want to know why we have indicated some children will not meet expectations as it looks like they’ve regressed. Of course they haven’t – they just have so much more to do to meet targets. I don’t want to lie, but pressure is there to ‘fix’ results so the school looks good. Also pressure PM wise – pay depends on results. It’s just so disheartening. None of it helps the children.

  47. ssongar 12 March 2016 at 8:59 am Reply

    Thankyou .
    For your clear and thorough explanation , and for trusting me , a nobody , a mere parent with this information . Thankyou for doing what the government won’t and treating me like a person with rights , like a mother with the right to know , to understand what is happening to her child’s education . Thankyou for working with me . For giving us , my child , her teacher and myself , her mother the chance to move forward and work together for the good of our future generation. I applaud you

  48. Emily 12 March 2016 at 10:54 pm Reply

    Well said. If seems the lucky ones that are naturally intelligent will breeze through this unrealistic new curriculum. Those who try and try so much that they get upset and frustrated as they simply are not brain boxes.. will be left feeling somewhat inadequate when really they should be praised for trying their upmost best. Teachers are trying their very best too and it seems they are in the fireing line but have no control over these ridiculous new targets. Crazy

  49. Neil 12 March 2016 at 11:38 pm Reply

    In the commercial world and continuous improvement environment requirements as I’ve known it for nearly thirty years, if it ain’t broke……
    A steady hand on the tiller with measured movements is far easier than knee jerk irrational hissy fits.
    Shame on the deluded echelon that justifies unnecessary change for changing sake.
    Paper empires?
    NHS has unfortunately gone / going that way and our beloved state school system is about to follow it into a tailspin too.
    Asleep at the wheel part two?

  50. Linda Screen 13 March 2016 at 8:57 am Reply

    Don’t worry parents – your children know how much they have progressed because the Government’s programme (which we your teachers implement) has now wrung every shred of hope of a carefree childhood out of their tiny minds they are now programmed like the little robots the Government has instructed us to build. You may notice changes in their behaviour such as self-harming, weeping, wetting the bed – but don’t worry this is a normal response to trauma and will ease after about 20 years and psychotherapy.

    • Emily 13 March 2016 at 7:35 pm Reply

      My children are burnt out and so are we. Let them be children. Who ever thinks this is benficial must have a naturally gifted child. We were not doing fractions this young. We were playing outside with mud

      • Linda Screen 13 March 2016 at 7:49 pm Reply

        The system seems to be designed to ruin as many children’s childhoods (and later lives) as possible – being able to survive an exam factory does not equip children well for the future – it deprives them of opportunities to love learning for the joy of discovery (rather than the prize of a test result) – it teaches children that they are nothing without ‘having’ a particular result – it is training children in acquisitive, materialistic behaviours (no wonder the Govt are pushing it so hard). The hot-housing of children in this way is inhumane and I am sad that this teacher is acknowledging that in time he will have crammed more developmentally inappropriate information into children who will undoubtedly suffer as a result of the process.

  51. Dawn 13 March 2016 at 9:47 am Reply

    It’s sad that both teachers and pupils are put under this much pressure. My biggest concern as a mother of a grade A year 10 student is how this will affect our children’s futures. As you say they are having to cram so much into a very short space of time will this be taken into account when they apply for university or jobs?

  52. bunyip 13 March 2016 at 2:31 pm Reply

    I have only skimmed the above comments, but i get the general feeling presented here. I understand both sides. My son was a very late summer born and worked really hard on his education (alot I disagreed with, but thats another topic), but as soon as he achieved his goals, the tests at school changed and all his achievements were altered to a lower grade. He was devastated and wondered what the point was of trying to achieve if had reached or surpassed his designated target, only to be told he was now 3 levels below. However, this is not the teachers fault, it must be devastating for them as well to deliver such news and see the affects that it causes both child and parent. Its not a fair system, but its not the teachers fault is it? The ever changing system reaches far and beyond the jurisdiction of the classroom teacher. Don’t get me wrong, i spend alot of time researching and writing about the mental health affects of children in education. However, I don’t think its fair, either, to put the blame squarely on the door of teachers.

  53. Sharon 14 March 2016 at 9:07 pm Reply

    Shared last year and sharing again. So well written and so true. Thank you.

  54. Andy kerr 14 March 2016 at 11:18 pm Reply

    I do not understand why teachers are not up in arms about the government not staggering improvement. It’s not that the bar has been raised, it’s that they’ve changed what they expect from children. Imagine if you’d been training through teachers college for 5 years and then with 3 months to go were told actually things were changing, questions and expectations are now different and actually your now performing below par. You’d be mad!!! So please get mad on behalf of those who can’t speak out or have no voice.

  55. Linda Freestone 16 March 2016 at 12:46 pm Reply

    Someone needs to speak out for our children giving them a voice. As a grandparent who enjoyed maths, as my children did, I am appalled at the government’s expectations of today’s children. They are robbing them of their childhood and that is something they cannot get back. Children are expected to achieve results that are far beyond their age and capabilities. This will result in a lot of them losing their confidence in maths and hating the subject. Once you lose your confidence it can take years to get it back, if ever. The government needs to rethink this before it’s too late and some educational damage is done to today’s children. Our children are relying on us to protect them in all things so we need to speak out for them now.

    • Alan Butland 16 March 2016 at 3:59 pm Reply

      I am currently reeling from the announcement about the statement about the demolition of all State education in favour of academies. To stop this will be an even bigger challenge.

  56. SparkyTeaching (@SparkyTeaching) 16 March 2016 at 6:31 pm Reply

    Great letter… Really appreciate where you’re coming from and can’t believe haven’t seen it until now! Will give it a tweet.

    Goalpost shifting is difficult enough for schools and teachers, but it’s really useful to explain to parents what is going on. Unfortunately, the ones in middle of all of this – the ones that matter – are the Y6s that bear the brunt of any pressure that comes… Sadly, Year 6 which is surely the pinnacle of any child’s primary experience often is a place of breakfast (sometimes Saturday!) revision clubs and needless pressure. 11 year-olds have a multitude more important skills than recognising a subordinate clause…

    “Someone needs to speak out for our children giving them a voice.” says Linda in an above comment. Dead right.

    If any parents or teachers are of a like mind, you might appreciate a free video we made to help show your children what really matters. Feel free to download it and share it with your 11 year-olds to redress the balance somewhat… It’s here if you want it:

  57. Elaine Hartshorne 17 March 2016 at 2:17 am Reply

    Great letter Michael. No one should compare change in businesses with change in education as one deals with making profit and the other deals with educating and nurturing children’s lives both different outcomes. I feel the people in these departments pushing through the changes so quickly have not actually been involved in classroom learning, but they need to gain brownie points to justify their existence. I am a retired teacher but was educating pupils of all ages from 14 to adults over 20 years and many changes took place at short notice which created stress on staff and departments. Looking back over the years many changes were not successful so had to be constantly altered often due to the fact that everything was rushed, surely lessons should be learned that if staff were given the time to gradually implement changes over longer periods both staff and pupils would be able to work in a more relaxed atmosphere which would enhance successful learning. Surely it is the teaching staff who know what, when and how their learners would be able to achieve outcomes set throughout each year, let them do the job their trained for. I was at a parents evening for my youngest grandson and the staff told us all about the changes,and the outcomes expected of the children in all year groups were put in a booklet and given to all those who attended. All schools should follow this example. Thanks Michael for your thoughts and comments.

  58. Chapman 18 March 2016 at 3:01 pm Reply

    We had just this experience at parents night last night. This is explained it and contextualised it far better. Thanks, great advice.

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