A Rich Curriculum


Back in 1991, Martin Haberman, as part of his life long work into how education could tackle disadvantage, wrote “The Pedagogy of Poverty” in which he explores how the accepted norms and routines of teaching life act to hold down the very children we seek to lift up. In our work, Hywel Roberts and I refer to this idea of a Pedagogy of Poverty widely, but we need to explore how it fits in with current ideas about ‘rich’ knowledge and core knowledge curriculum models.  Continue reading “A Rich Curriculum”


Wake up! We’re doing this.

I’m not going to comment much on this. This is simply a list of tweets and messages I’ve had from parents this week.

  1. Week before sats my daughter had a meltdown, We were away with family. “I can’t take it I can’t take it I can’t take it” it was late at night and we couldn’t get through to her.
  2. I’m worried about my daughter’s mental health, she is already coming home crying about SATs and she’s in y5.
  3. At my son’s secondary school there was club in Year 7 only for kids who did well in their SATS. They went on trips and had a range of opportunities that the other didn’t have access to.
  4. Son’s school has ‘potential high achievers’ – I was naive enough to think that every student is a potential high achiever. Son has never been on a trip, been there almost 2 yrs.
  5. My 11 year old grandson, who has always been ok in English and excellent in Maths and Science, was taken out of a science lesson each fortnight for an English ‘intervention.’ Under new standards in the new curriculum, his English skills are now deemed to be weak; he won’t reach the expected standard in the English SATs. Double whammy. Extra lessons in a subject that does not enthuse him but which he was doing alright in at the expense of one of his favourite subjects.
  6. The KS2 grades were my bete noir all through our middle child’s schooling because everytime I raised concerns that she was drifting the teacher would quote the KS2 grades and show me graphs extrapolated from them to ‘prove’ that my daughter was on track. So they were expecting C’s. In year 11 teachers suddenly started saying, “We hadn’t realised she was so able. She could get an A!’ But it was far far too late.
  7. His school has been working on not much else but SATs for months. Too depressing.
  8.  (At a) painful meeting with Heads to tell them why I was pulling her out, they countered she would miss the school trip to theme park and as soon as she returned to school she’d have to take them. That made me speechless.
  9. My oldest got top results in SATS & referral to CAMHS with severe anxiety. Worst year of our lives.I’d back any parent boycotting them.
  10. When daughter 2 went to secondary she was set according to her SATS & the ceiling for her progress was set. The message she got was there’s no point trying because teachers don’t believe I can do it.
  11. My daughter suffered a massive panic attack this evening in direct relation to these and I had to rush her to the doctors – and I am desperately seeking information on what I can do for her. She suffers with anxiety anyhow, and even though she’s meeting the standard for her english, she has been told by her teacher (on parents evening) that it isn’t good enough as she only just scraped through, and how will her fail in maths look on the league table?  Passing her english has been like climbing Everest for her, and this has totally crushed her.

And a couple from teachers:-

  1. One of our kids wrote”I’m dumb”all over the last few pages of her Maths reasoning paper. We spent all year convincing her she’s good at Maths
  2. I had to calm down & a counsel a year 6 girl on Wednesday who had a severe anxiety attack, couldn’t stop sobbing because of the fear of opening the maths reasoning paper & not being able to do it. Was all I could do not to cry seeing her like this.

There are dozens more of these stories. Not a single one of us went into teaching to be the other person on the end of these tales. A system that puts so much pressure on us that our values warp and we become blind to the impact we have needs to be changed. We need to wake up and act.