This is a very self centred post. Please excuse this.
This morning I went online to check the results my students had earned, only to find out that this year is without doubt the worst set of grades I have been connected with. I have never had to feel like this before as a teacher. It is as though there is nothing to clasp onto; no floor or walls to grab and save myself from falling. I have never been in on results day before, but today I had to to investigate what had happened.
I have looked at the final results my Y11 achieved and the modular results my Y10 gained. So many of them are 2 or 3 grades below where they should be and I had no idea this was going to happen. For Y11 their modular grade from 12 months ago, their coursework and their mock exams all pointed to a cohort going to achieve the results of which they were capable; with a fair sized minority on the way to surpassing their FFT suggested grades. In Y10 there should be a fair proportion of pupils likely to get A’s or B’s next summer. Their mock exams and end of unit test exam questions pointed to this group also doing well.
But that is not as it has turned out. And I don’t know how to react. I have looked at my exam board’s enhanced results service online, I have spoken to our assistant head and to the exam enquiry office for my exam board. I will hopefully be able to query the results and then maybe they will be altered. but that is a lot of results to go wrong. And badly wrong.
There could be two causes to this:
- The pupils underperformed
- The exam board made some error(s)
If it is the first, then as the only teacher of these 70-80 pupils over Y10 and 11 the fault has to be mine. If the latter, it wont be for up to 2 months until this is proven and I will have to wait until then to know if we were hard done by today. Either way, whether by me or the examiners, my pupils have been poorly treated. They deserved better grades than they have been awarded.
I am writing this blog post mainly to clear my head. This is one of the worst mornings of my professional career. I am unstuck. There is 2 weeks before term starts and longer before any remarking may be finished.
It is apparent how much of what I consider to be me is wrapped up in the label “teacher”, so when that gets called into question it isn’t just an uncertainty about how I do my job. I feel it to be a bigger query over me as a person. I have spoken previously about how OFSTED can so monumentally affect teachers and wondered why we worry so much about what they say when we don’t really respect them as an organisation. Should we even bother to chase an outstanding grade from them, when a good school taking on many new challenges for their pupils each year is outstanding whether they say so or not?
But now I have this feeling failure at doing my job, I can get a clearer picture of what it is that drives us to be measured as a successful teacher, department or school. Firstly, teaching is more than a job to most of us, it is a part of who we are and secondly we know the pupils rely on us to help them achieve their best. If there is something we are doing or not doing that hinders this, then the consequences can be far reaching.
I think that is why I feel so affected by these results.