Why my child will be in school on May 3rd.

painting-1067686_1920

If you didn’t already know, there is a big school protest going on tomorrow. Primary school children across Britain will be kept at home by their parents tomorrow as part of the Let Our Kids Be Kids protest against Year 6, Year 2, doing SATS. You can read more here.

We won’t be taking part though.

The reason is this;

I whole heartedly back this campaign. I absolutely agree with all the points made about children having the right to be children. I’ve heard the stories about anxious 6 and 7 year olds in tears, desperately worried about being ‘stupid’. ‘bad at the tests’, ‘not clever’ and I think it is disgusting that our babies are being put in a position where, at an age where a lot of their European counterparts are not even at school yet, they are facing the worry about exams. The teachers are facing yet more pressure to forgo all the activities and pastimes that children should be enjoying in their early education years and are being forced to put far too much effort and energy into their children passing the tests and scoring highly so as not to bring down the school’s reputation.

I hate it. I think it is awful and totally and utterly ridiculous. However, I’m not joining in with the protest and my reasoning is purely that I don’t want my daughter to know about these tests at all. If I keep her off school, she will wonder why. She’s bright enough to know that she should be in school and will ask me a lot of questions about it.

I know that the idea is that the school will carry out these tests in such a way that the children won’t know that they are sitting tests and I can only hope that that is true, that by the time she gets to them, she’ll not be aware at all, or all the petitioning and negative press the government is receiving will have meant that they are no more.

The last thing that I want is for her to feel anxious for two years about them coming. She is a worrier and a perfectionist and would get herself in knots about it and so I’m hoping to not draw her attention to it, thereby sparing her the worry. I can’t help but feel that if I were to be talking about it in a public and open manner and by making her query things by not attending school, this is going to give her more of an idea about what is going on, then if she were just quietly answering some questions one day at school, something she probably wouldn’t even pick up on.

The fact that I’m not protesting in this way however, does not mean that I agree with them being labelled so young, or that they are now putting so much energy into learning about things that I genuinely don’t believe that they need to know at this age. In fact, some of the things my daughter knows now, I have got away for 32 years without ever needing! πŸ˜‰

My mother is a prime example. She was brought up in Austria and didn’t start school until she returned to Britain at 7 and they panicked that she was not in school yet and wrote all sorts of letters to my grandparents.

She is one of the brightest people I know! She collects letters after her name as if she is trying to tick off the whole alphabet!

This articleΒ is a very interesting look at how children that begin learning reading at 7, will actually be at the same level as those that started reading at 5 but generally have much more positive attitudes towards it. I can understand that. My daughter at 5, can find reading stressful and a chore, I also find it stressful knowing that she will be ‘behind’ the others in her class if we don’t read the book as they read in group sessions. It makes me sad because she is very good at reading, also, I loved to read as a child. I feel that reading should be a pleasure, a key to whole new worlds, not a drag, multiple stages of boring, unimaginative, uninspiring books to tick off.

She also has maths homework. Admittedly, this is designed to be fun, but there is a certain pressure to get that done too. They don’t seem to take into account that we do so much at home that is less structured maybe, but by no means less important, it is just less forced, less formal, more fun!

Although she’ll go into school as normal tomorrow, I’m not going to not do anything about this. I shall be signing every petition going in the hope that many voices shouting together can be heard. I shall also work incredibly hard to make sure that my children know that they are totally brilliant humans however they do at school, some of the most brilliant minds of our time found unconventional ways of achieving their greatness and I think we should celebrate them too. We seem to have lost the ability to view people as individuals and instead, assess them based on a generic testing system that doesn’t take into account any of the other qualities that make them pretty damn fabulous and special.

There are many things that I disagree with about the English education system, (don’t get me started on the whole holidays thing, fining was a measure brought in to prevent the poor forgotten children spending their days truanting because no one was attempting to make them go, not to prevent families from making magical memories with loved ones, I’m still hoping that they have an about turn on the policy as Wales have recently.), and so many things about it that make me angry, but hopefully, by fighting away quietly in ways like this, I can make a difference without drawing the attention to it of the most important people, my tiny humans.

FullSizeRender (6)

 

Petitions you can sign if you feel strongly about this too;

Cancel the end of Key Stage 2 SATs tests for 2016 Govt Petition

Stop KS1 tests and go back to teacher judgements and levels

WE SUPPORT TEACHERS TO BOYCOTT SATS -Let The Kids Be Kids

Re the School Holidays;

Parents Want a Say Petition

Parent Want a Say Facebook Page

17 Comments

  1. My son will be partaking in these tests. Not because I want him to but because he wont even know that he’s doing them. His school have had the bright idea not to tell the kids and to simply get them to do them as fun activities… I don’t really care how he scores as I see them as a waste of paper and time. I would much rather him be assessed by regular progress reports as schools already carry out.

    • It’s so tough to call. I will send my daughter in on school test days but I will work damn hard to make sure she realises that results aren’t everything and she’s just perfect as she is. Most importantly, I will try not to get sucked in to the competitive parenting that seems to go hand in hand with this sort of stuff!

  2. This is such a sensitive issue. As a teacher, I prefer to use my own judgement backed up by ongoing evidence rather than a test score which may be wildly different to how a child usually performs. #bigpinklink

    • It’s so tough isn’t it. I trust the teachers in our school & think at this age, they need to be left to it more, they’re so new to school& it’s terrible if they are put off so young.

  3. Great post Louise! My 5 year old was off school yesterday but only cos he’s poorly. I would’ve still sent him in even though I’m against these tests, like your daughter, James is bright enough to ask why he wouldn’t be at school.
    I totally agree with you – I think this country places way too much emphasis on educational attainment as measured by certain tests. As part of my psychology degree we looked at the bias of intelligence tests and how they only work for certain groups. While I’m sure these tests are drawn up with little ones in mind and are administered in a sensitive way by many teachers, testing for testings sake is ridiculous, puts kids under unnecessary pressure and probably doesn’t even reflect their real abilities. The teachers know which kids are struggling, which are excelling and have ways and means of helping these groups. Why does the government feel the need to continually have league tables and statistics??! Bl**dy government (don’t get me started on them, I could write a whole blog post about how much i dislike the Tories. Only today I found out that they’re not funding my 3year old’s final 2 weeks of nursery, leaving me to find a hundred quid). Rant over! x

    • Why are they pulling funding? That makes no sense and at such short notice too! I think that it is an absolute mess. They are obviously trying to find the areas where pupils are failing, but I think the level of testing at year 2 is quite crazy. I think they should be left to play. By all means, little spelling tests and things, but in the classroom and not under exam conditions. They are still babies! Intelligence is such a personal thing. Any amount of factors can result in a child doing poorly in a test that just aren’t taken into account.

  4. I don’t even have school aged children but this topic has interested me greatly. It gives me a little pang of sadness that children can’t just be children. It is bad enough that everything is tested academically and you take that with you through life – You might be an awesome musician or a talented write but if you leave school with 3 GCSEs it will desperately knock your confidence. Not everyone was built for academia, nor should they be. Imagine if we only had academics, the world as we know it would grind to a skidding halt!

    • Or a talented writer – not an affliction I suffer from obviously! Anyway I forgot to say #bloggerclubuk πŸ˜‰

    • This is such a good view, and so right. I just think that the variation of people is what makes the world turn. Not everyone is cut out for exams but it doesn’t make them any less special. If academics ran the world, oh dear! My Mum is super intelligent, scarily so, but I had to show her how to boil rice! ;D

  5. There’s so much literature about the school readiness of children, the pros and cons of doing it the Scandinavian way and starting later. The thing is, what ever happens they aren’t going to please everyone.
    My point of view is that you can’t boycott tests totally, enough children shit a brick about their GCSE’s. We should be teaching children about not stressing, failing an exam is not the end of the world. And tests should be more about checking that teachers are teaching all the kids, that no one is struggling, if they are then proper support.

    Rant rant rant. Sorry!

    #Passthesauce

    • I agree completely. The teachers have been assessing through the year for years and my friend says that she would have the most brilliant children who bailed on test day because they couldn’t handle the pressure and then children that were really struggling but were great at memorising so sailed through even though they struggled with the basics. A teacher needs to get to know her pupils over time to make these judgments. With the younger ones anyway.

  6. I was one of the first children to take SATS when they were introduced. The teachers didn’t make a big deal about it, it was just another lesson but I remember the day. Not because of the test itself but because of the anxiety it generated in the adults around me, I remember my mother quizzing me on the content and whispering earnestly about levels with her friends. I think the whole schooling system needs an overhaul, compared to most other services it’s barely changed since Victorian times, not all children learn in the same way but if things don’t change, well the tests never end – perhaps the sooner children get used to them the better… *ducks* #passthesauce

    • I was one if the first to do SATS too, but at 11. I’m not sure when they brought them in for the younger ones but it seems a bit much to me. At 6 and 7 the focus should still be on play. Childhood is so short at the best of times. I definitely agree that testing is something they need to get used to, unfortunately it doesn’t work for every child though. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious solution.

  7. I’m not sure what I’d do if the Tubblet was still in Primary. I don’t agree with the tests, but I’m not sure keeping them off school or implying that’s okay is the way to do it. But, that said, each parent needs to make their own decision

    • It’s just such a minefield isn’t it? I’m not against tests either but these just sound a massive step too far if they are causing stress for both the teachers and the children Thanks for your comment, πŸ™‚

  8. Its a tough call as a parent but I agree with you that if your daughter is going to know something is up and you have to explain why she isn’t in school then that just makes the test pressure worse. We were talking about this the other evening and I have to say that the grammatical terms they are teaching kids these days are things that I myself have never heard of and at 30 years old I am doing just fine not knowing them! #passthesauce

  9. I think keeping kids off school for this teaches them that if you don’t like something you just refuse to take part which isn’t a good lesson at all. Looks like the government will have a lot of fine money to keep funding the new system the people are complaining about when all the parents are fined for an unauthorised absence!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK πŸ™‚
    Debbie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge