When I arrived at your school five years ago, your SATs data was average. You told me that your curriculum was at the heart of the school. You told me the pupils needed a good, well balanced curriculum to cater for the many complex needs of the pupils.
You told me that you chose not to run excessive booster groups and after school SATs clubs. You told me that you only did mocks two weeks before SATs to minimise pupil stress. You told me that the staff were amazing and had an excellent relationship with the pupils and parents.
However, I ignored all that. I was asked to improve the SATs data and to prevent the school going into requires improvement.
So I quickly introduced an excessive focus on grammar, writing, reading and maths. I chose to ignore your concerns about sacrificing foundation subjects in order to improve data each half term.
I introduced excessive testing and tracking analysis software across the whole school. Many pupils who excelled in subjects such as music, art, DT, PE etc. were suddenly failing at school and as a result, behaviour at the school took a nose dive.
To prove my impact further, I introduced a long list of non-negotiables that were designed not to necessarily improve teaching and learning, but to impose authority and consistency. You became robots.
You told me that many new initiatives I introduced were not based on research but based on my own personal ideas.
Many of you started to get anxious and became disillusioned with how the school was being run. You could see the damage I was doing and you were powerless to stop it. You knew I would put you on an action plan if you questioned my decisions.
The staff room became a toxic place where you regularly off-loaded.
Pupil progress meetings became the norm. I would mentally beat you about your data and made you feel inadequate about your teaching.
Some of you went off sick. Some of you resigned. Some of you cried. Some of you played the game. Some of you cheated in tests to keep me happy.
In a very short space of time, I turned the school upside down. Great teachers will never teach again and others have lost their confidence.
But it worked. Our sats results went up slightly but pupil numbers continued to fall as they left for other schools. I now have a distant relationship with the parents and the pupils don’t really connect with me.
Now the curriculum has become the new thing and not so much to do with data. You told me all this when I started. I wish I had listened. To be honest, I didn’t know any different.
But you were right. Your school was already doing fantastic things. Your priorities were spot on. Ironically, if ofsted had visited your school back then, with the new framework they appear to be working from now, you may have got outstanding.
I am sorry to all the teachers who left teaching because of me.
I am sorry to all of the teachers who had long periods of sick leave because of anxiety.
I am sorry that my naive policies were introduced.
They didn’t work.
I am sorry.