Last night I watched the last episode of ‘Class of mum and dad’, it is a programme chronicling the return to year 6 for a group of parents. They were in the primary school being taught in the same way as the other year 6 children, the last episode focussed on them taking their SATS. The parents attitude to school and the exams differed, their own experiences of school coming into play. Ultimately it was an enlightening experience for all taking part; they understood what pressures their children were under but they also saw that they were being well taught and looked after, in a way they hadn’t experienced themselves while at school.
It highlighted how teaching has changed in a generation, mainly for the good with more emphasis on individual learning and nurturing of the child. However, there seems far too much emphasis on monitoring a child’s progress; most schools have a test at the end of each half term and then bigger, longer exams at the end of each year. Now while I agree that there has to be monitoring, does there really need to be so much?
My daughter works in a children’s nursery and each child has the same checks under the ‘The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)’ which sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. Again, I agree that there needs to be some monitoring of progress to recognise any developmental delays early on but does it have to be done every 6 weeks?
The unfortunate truth is that these tests are used to grade schools and nurseries, for the league tables. Without these they would have no standing. I know of a head teacher who has altered these figures to feature better in the league tables, so are they really a true reflection? Probably not. Surely how a child progresses academically is just part of their story? What about their emotional competence? What about their self confidence?
Children are taught PSHE - personal, social and health education in schools but this only goes so far. In my experience the only children to receive additional social and emotional education are the most vulnerable and disengaged students. The issue being time and funding. Then what about the children who are weak academically but they are great at sport or art? What about those children who don’t excel at anything? Unfortunately the system is flawed. Teachers often don’t agree with the system but they have little choice but to follow protocol. We all want the best for our children but I feel that the present system focuses too much on how a child performs academically and not enough on the whole child.