The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Thursday, September 09, 2004

A strange thing happened in my school last year. With a new head teacher, we were instructed not to try to get good GCSE results from the current final year. Apparently their behaviour records were too deviant, their attendance too slack, their baseline data (for which, non-industry readers, substitute the phrase: 'IQ test', or to accord them their proper validity: 'horoscope').
As a new head, it was thought that we could get away with one year's poor results, and blame it on the outgoing incumbent. The subsequent year's data was far more impressive, their attitudes more in line with new boss' thinking - we would focus on those children, and 'write off' the kids who would be leaving compulsory schooling with a nigh on inevitable shockingly low grade.

I don't know for sure if the injunction was double speak, reverse psychology, whatever. I'm not clued up enough on conspiracy theories of any sort to detect such things. I suspect it was an honest admission of defeat. Regardless, the staff acted as one in Taking Umbrage of The Highest Sort. It actually became a way of pointedly defying a new boss to work harder with these kids.

The national average of A-C GCSE grades is something along the lines of 55%. The London average is somewhere along the lines of 44%. The school's average is usually mouldering in the 30% region, with the occasional leap towards the dizzy heights of 34%.
These kids took a mock GCSE exam last Christmas, and achieved a woeful 19% A-C grade. The head's pronouncement seemed to be bearing fruit.
Cue mass rebellion of teachers. Cue huge amounts of unpaid extra classes, innovative intervention programmes, sheer bloody minded effort.
This summer, the year group we were formally instructed to give up on achieved 37%.

Yay them. Go the team.