Do post-SATs celebrations give those tests too much importance? SATs aren’t GCSEs or A levels; you don’t need them for a job. You don’t even need them for secondary school, where the preference is for them to do their own (more accurate) cognitive ability testing.
SATs are a means for the DfE to hold schools to account (and, if they fall short, a justification for publicly taunting them and flushing their head down the toilet in best bullying tradition). The school’s results are published and praised or vilified, not the individual pupils – yet. Celebrating something which should be played down to avoid stress can risk making too much of it.
Other disapproving voices will simply criticise schools and children for daring to have a good time when they should be working harder and longer to catch up with Singapore, Finland or whichever world education location is currently flavour of the month with PISA and the DfE. But as Plautus wrote – everyone likes a classical justification – we should ‘Celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.’ Admittedly, writing in Ancient Rome he wouldn’t have been specifically referring to SATs, and on reflection, getting lashed is definitely not an acceptable way to conclude SATs week (at least not for the pupils).
For me, however, a post-SATs hooley is an important and innocuous rite of passage for frazzled teachers and pupils. That’s assuming that every child who wants to be included is included, irrespective of their ability to pay, and that the chosen activity is appealing for every child taking part – you’ll find some suggestions on the opposite page.
PTAs can help with funding post-SATs rewards – mine buy a book of his or her choosing for each leaver. If you have to come up with an educational justification, make it believable. Post-SATs celebrations can’t be about ‘building rapport’ with the pupils, for example. It’s May. You’ve had them for eight months. If rapport hasn’t happened yet – well, they’re just not that into you.
You could, though, engage in some rapport-building at the start of the year when fundraising for your May do. Or why not just loudly and unapologetically proclaim it as a jolly, and that the ‘educational benefit’ might be learning the vital lesson that we work to live, not the other way round?
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES
- WOW FACTOR: Awesome. Everyone included equally.
- COST: Pricey, especially if you have to travel.
- EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS: Storytelling, dance, music, drama, etc.
- WOW FACTOR: Quite cool. You get to hurl heavy things and knock down objects with a satisfying clatter.
- COST: Moderate.
- EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS: Hand-eye co-ordination; numeracy; teamwork.
- WOW FACTOR: They get to learn juggling and clowning, spin plates, and walk a high wire at least 60cm above ground.
- COST: £300 approx. for circus skills person for two hours; they supply the equipment.
- EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS: Resilience, practice, persistence, performance.
- WOW FACTOR: You eat food and mess about with water. Perfect. What could possibly go wrong?
- COST: Parents all supply some food, so effectively free.
- EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS: Of water pistols? You’re kidding, right?
THEATRE TRIP TO SEE A PLAY OR MUSICAL
EVENING CIRCUS SKILLS SESSION, FOLLOWED BY PERFORMANCE TO PARENTS AND FISH & CHIPS
PICNIC FOLLOWED BY WATER PISTOL BATTLE ON THE SCHOOL FIELD
Kevin Harcombe is headteacher at Redlands Primary School, Fareham