IAN HART: Are we putting too much pressure on our children?

With both Hart youngsters well into their 20s, SATs at their middle schools are a dim and distant memory.

Ian Hart
Ian Hart

But a chance conversation with a friend whose youngest recently sat their year-six tests, and the related stress issues they as a family experienced, reminded me how much was made of the process even back then.

The testing system exists to produce data about schools – how much progress they’ve made from early years to the end of primary schools – but having spoken to members of the teaching profession it doesn’t take the individual school’s context into account.

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The schools effectively end up competing in a league, so some schools end up focusing heavily on reading, writing and maths, and as a result non-tested subjects like music, art and history can be sidelined in order to get better results and a higher position in the league table.

How can ranking school on SATs results be correct? I think It’s misleading, and according to the people in the know I spoke to it certainly doesn’t provide a true picture of the quality of education a school provides.

Statistics aside, what about the impact it can have on some of the children at the time of a tests?

In a recent survey by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), 90 per cent of 6,500 teachers and head teachers agreed that SATS preparation at Key Stage 2 was having a harmful impact on children’s self confidence and mental health.

Shouldn’t those findings be enough? If the overwhelming majority of the teachers think the Department for Education is going down a path that ultimately harms the very youngsters they are trying to develop, should that not be a loud wake up call?

Or will they wait for a number of youngsters to be adversely affected by these issues before realising they should have listened to the people who know what they’re talking about?


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