Author: Siobhan Collingwood, Head teacher and supporter of More Than a Score
I should start by saying that I love teaching and I love my school. I am the head teacher of a large primary school in a very disadvantaged community, which means that many of our children and their families face huge challenges on a daily basis such as mental health issues, sub-standard housing conditions and daily difficulties in making ends meet. Despite these challenges, most skip happily into school keen to learn, are polite and enthusiastic about their school community.
I am a teacher first and foremost. My job is hugely fulfilling and I never know what my day will bring from one day to the next. Last year we launched a little toy dog to the edge of space on a helium balloon with a Go-Pro camera and tracking device. When he fell off on his return journey, the amazing footage thrilled and amazed the children in school before going viral on the Internet. The search for the toy even became an international news story with the children, parents and staff being interviewed by the world’s media.
Just last month I watched children and parents staggering into school with their ‘around the world’ head teacher’s challenge – papier-mâché globes, national flags and maps that had been lovingly made at home. What delights me is the excitement on the faces of the children and parents, the pride they have in showing us the fruits of their work together. Through all the hardships that they face, their resilience, creativity and enthusiasm amazes me.
But despite how hard children, parents and teachers try to enjoy learning, the challenges of the National Curriculum – with its ill thought-out assessment arrangements – brought my staff and I to the edge of despair last year. Coupled with the idiosyncratic demands made during our OFSTED inspections, it was enough to make me question whether I could keep doing the job I love.
The only thing that kept me going at these times was the campaign that my staff and I became involved in, to raise awareness of this damage being done within primary education. We are a united body who support one other to work for the betterment of our school community. It is our unity of purpose and commitment that makes us strong and urges us to strive for better, each and every day.
I hope head teachers, teachers, parents and experts in child development and education from across the country can come together to call for better assessment and fairer school accountability. After all, our children are more than a score.