19th August 11.52pm
I can’t sleep. I know as a teacher I am not alone in this. Tomorrow, GCSE results are out at 6am. I went to be early so I could wake up refreshed. After hours of tossing and turning I am resigned to a sleepless night and a day of waking sleep.
I don’t know what to think. I am sad I won’t see you all, so sad. I promised you I would be there when you collected your results, but events have conspired to keep me away. I know you won’t notice. You will have more important things to think about.
I don’t know why our English Language results have gone down so much. I had expected a 5% drop; but never envisaged more than 10%. We did intervention; more targeted and more rigorous this time. We did extra mock exams. Your teachers benefitted from extra confidence having delivered the spec before. I was shocked at the number of E grades-more than our total D grades last year. Besides what this means for the school’s headline figures, I am devastated for each of you who missed that magic C. I am told for many of you had B grades and some even A grades in coursework and speaking and listening. The exam dragged you down. This is little comfort to me, and will be less comfort for you.
I find myself wondering: was maths the same? Did they fall too? And what about English Literature, which you all took? Is there solace to be found there? And what could rises and falls like these mean?
We knew you were a ‘weaker’ cohort. Your SATs results were the lowest we had in the school for any year group. But what does it say about our ability to teach you if results rise and fall with your so-called ‘ability’? Is your fate determined before you even arrive to us, fresh-faced year 7s, hungry for knowledge?
And what of the national picture? Already I know of two other schools: one has experienced a similar drop; one has sustained its performance. This isn’t enough to build a picture of what has happened.
Why can’t I sleep? I can’t sleep because I am racked with guilt. What more could I have done, should I have done? But more than this, my faith in education is shaken. I used to believe we could work miracles with you; that hard work would combat all: low prior attainment and deprived background. I have to still believe this is the case. But the means to achieve this end needs a dramatic overhaul. And I won’t be there to do it. I will be far away, in another school, desperately trying to make miracles happen.
All of you students are miracles. You could not have worked harder. You could not have been more pleasant. You could not have deserved more. You bought in to our every intervention, believing our promises of magic C grades.
We don’t always get what we deserve.
We don’t always keep our promises.
I can’t sleep. It will be a long night, a long day, and a longer year of finding a better way.