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! 😉
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 article 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.
Petitions you can sign if you feel strongly about this too;
Re the School Holidays;