The Not Quite There

The Not Quite There can be seen from a mile,
With deep dark bags and a faltering smile;
And they’re clutching at coffee with quivering hands
Whilst frantically looking for long term plans.
What’s the first unit? And how long for?
Where are the levels for key stage four?
Who are my EALs, SENs and PPs?
And where is the list of all my tutees?

It’s the fourth of September; school has just started,
But comes an announcement that makes them fainthearted.
The office that deals with qualifications
Has waited until the last day of vacation
To tell them the news that ruins their plans.
And behind this news is an odd looking man:
Like a pig in a wig with sticky-out ears,
And a big bulbous head full of silly ideas;
And a big bottom lip and a Thunderbird’s chin;
And small beady eyes filled with evil and sin.

So the pig-like-man said from his puppet-like jaw,
“The Speaking and Listening shall be no more!
For those poor children whose writing is weak,
But have good ideas when given to speak,
Should be, in my judgement, seen but not heard.”
Which, I might add, is quite frankly absurd.

Scrapping work that had been completed?
The poor students would clearly feel cheated!
But teachers then thought of a genius plan,
And entered the kids in November’s exam.
This early submission would surely secure
The marks the poor students had done the work for.
So reassured by this hopeful belief,
The teachers all sighed a sigh of relief.

But the pig in the wig with sticky-out ears
And a big bulbous head had other ideas.
With a menacing grin the pigman said
(raising his eyebrows to the top of his head),
“From now on league tables will purely be set
By the first grades the children collect.
Requesting fresh chances is far too bold;
This country has standards that it must uphold!”

The Not Quite There heard the confusing new news,
And waited to see which path they would choose:
Would the poor kids be withdrawn from exams,
Or would the school keep to the original plans?
The staff were all thrown into a blind panic;
The Head was becoming completely frantic.
A Governors’ meeting was quickly convened,
To think how to respond to that pigheaded fiend.

The submissions will stay! The exams will be taken!
And, although the staff were considerably shaken,
A decision was made and this cheered them on,
What else at this juncture could go possibly wrong?
The Mocks! That’s what could go possibly wrong.
For, when the papers were looked upon,
The grammar was grim and the spelling was dire
The department had found themselves stuck in a mire.
The exam was too soon! Was it too late
To turn the tide? The ask was too great.

Extra sessions were scheduled. Targets were set.
Papers were practiced so they would not forget,
The skills that they needed to pass the exam.
Staff taught the students like battering rams,
Repeating advice, “Use capital letters!
And winsome words to make your work better!
And use an ellipsis and paragraphs too.”
The answers improved and confidence grew.

And, although this was good, the work was not done.
Targets were set, extra session were run,
Papers were practiced and then given marks.
This was all quite a formidable task.
The teachers were white-washed, completely expended,
Dead on their feet when the half-term had ended.

Was it enough? Well, we’ll just have to wait!
The exam is after they return from their break.
But at least you have been able to see,
What the first eight weeks were like for the poor NQT.

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