A blogpost shooting down the Conservatives over claims children who do not achieve a level 4 in their SATs are “mediocre failures” has gone viral – evoking a tide of united support from teachers.

David Cameron announced on Tuesday proposals for primary school children to retake their SATs in the first year of secondary school if they do not get a level 4.

He said it would ensure a “zero-tolerance of failure and mediocrity”.

Blogger Disappointed Idealist, a teacher and father of three, penned a personal piece following the announcement (and ensuing media reports, particularly the Daily Telegraph’s front page pictured below).


Daily Telegraph front page which earned Disappointed Idealist's ire


The history teacher, who also writes for the Guardian, took aim at politicians seemingly labelling children who do not reach level 4 by the end of primary school as failures – explaining his three daughters will not get a level 4.

“My children are adopted. They were adopted at the ages of three, four and six. As with nearly all children adopted in this country over the last couple of decades, this means that their early life experiences were pretty terrible,” he wrote on his blog here.



An extract from the blog
An extract from the blog


“You label them “mediocre failures” yet claim to be “on parents’ side”?”




It got 300,000 views in just one day, and currently has more than 460 (mostly supportive) comments.











It also won plaudits across the Twittersphere.


Graham Birrell, a senior lecturer in education, said:



Child psychologist Jeni Hooper tweeted:


It has now been read just under 400,000 times in three days, from people in countries across the world.

Disappointed Idealist told Schools Week: “If I had to guess at why, I don’t think it’s the quality or passion in my writing – I’ve been cross with education policy before. I think it’s more that so much of the education “debate” is conducted in the abstract, and that’s what allows politicians to get away with their empty rhetoric about “rigour”, “standards”, “no excuses culture” etc.

“I’m actually both genuinely humbled, and more than a little intimidated, by the response. This one seems to have somehow struck a chord with a much wider audience.”

“So Cameron’s briefers probably didn’t think anything of writing those appalling words : “mediocrity and failure”, or worse “a Tory government would not allow pupils who fail their SATs to drag down standards in classrooms for brighter students.

“I think what my blog did was put a face to those children. Not the feral offspring of the underclass so beloved of tabloid headline writers, or the knife-wielding “yoof” who stalk the corridors of chaotic state schools in the minds of so many who don’t actually experience the reality of state schools.

“Just ordinary, lovely children, who through no fault of their own, just aren’t very academically able. There they were, on the page, and they were being described in the most appallingly contemptuous way by the Prime Minister himself ! I guess maybe that juxtaposition is what prompted the response.”

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  1. ChemistryPoet

    The power of Diasppointed Idealist’s writing is evident even in the quotes he has given in this piece. Definitely one of the most lucid edu-bloggers around at the moment. The consequence of this standard of writing is that it provokes serious thought (or should, anyway). This issue is a tough one to square. There are elements of truth on both sides of the debate (although the re-sits SATs tosh didn’t help, particularly), and serious (probably system-wide) thought is required to find the way forward.