This year, we embarked on the task of implementing National Standards, no easy job at the beginning of this year when there were minimal guidelines to support this endeavour. Revising the formats of the reports themselves to include room for reporting in "plain English" in the three main areas we have succeeded in part to deliver but at what cost. Staff have found it laborious to record in writing, what could be shown, explained and spoken to, an arduous task indeed.
Unpacking the Standards which is argued are to a large extent untested was in itself a time consuming task and this will undoubtedly vary from school to school across the country. Despite the difficulties we faced, however, there are positives to be taken from and worked with for the future. Strong professional dialogue has occurred throughout the year and areas of need in Professional Development has been outlined. The importance of quality teacher practice with on-going formative assessment can be addressed by all. In terms of the actual Standards themselves, we can stand up and say that having tried and delivered in the mode set down by the Government that this can be done in a far more effective way than this. In the Junior School, recognising children's skills and abilities in relation to their actual age at signposts allows an element of fairness to individuals when reporting progress. As a result of the work undertaken this year, the toll has been great, confusion, time constraints, time allotment to report writing, difficulty unpacking what is working to and at at a range of prescribed levels - BUT seeds have been planted and these are now ready to sprout and continue their growth as we ask ourselves... "what are our next learning steps?" and as students, ourselves involved in this learning process, we have pretty good ideas of our own!