Let children be children- 3May

My daughter is nearly 23 and I don’t remember her taking her KS2 SATs…I know she did and I know she got ‘good levels’ but we talked about it today and she doesn’t remember there being any real preparation for them…no months of practise papers…no stress.

I was a school governor at the time and knew that those tests were meant to be a window into her education… a snapshot of where she was at at age 11.

Jump forward a dozen years and my son is about to sit his SAT’s, his school is wonderful, …he mostly enjoys it but…. there have been practise papers. There has been an after school maths club (in his case) or a literacy club in the case of others. It’s an improvement on his KS1 SATs at a previous school where it felt the whole year was taken up with cramming…but still….

Part of me is very impressed the school isn’t doing more  because the grammar element the children are being tested on is new. A new curriculum…a four year curriculum that our children have had access to for less than a year… that could be a LOT of cramming- but as I said…good school.
My daughter asked her little brother today if he is worried about his SAT’s.
“A bit” he said
“That’s disgusting” she said to me “nobody should need to be worried about exams until GCSe’s…. and she’s totally right.

In a society where we’re all under more pressure, where there are fewer resources to go around, where the gap between rich and poor is ever widening, it’s hard for parents not to get sucked earlier and earlier into pushing their children onto the academic treadmill to try and get them ahead…
SAT’s are the foundation of my child’s future, do badly and his life path could crumble beneath his feet. THAT is the fear we’ve been fed. I know his SAT’s results are used to help stream him at secondary school, predict his GCSe results….his A level results…these tests could be the difference between him being a doctor or working in McDonalds (I’m over egging but you get the point).

Give a six year old a test paper and they should make a paper aeroplane with it.. a telescope…or draw a tree. Give a ten year old a test paper and they should make an origami boat…draw a plan for a working telescope…draw a tree they’ve been growing since they were 6…or write a poem about it…..pretty much anything to show you they love learning and that they know anything they are good at is important – whatever it is.

I’ve never been a teacher but I was a TA and I know the satisfaction of finding things a child is good at…discovering an activity that makes a child resonate with confidence or getting to a joyeous lightbulb moment of understanding.

Knowing what a relative clause is, recognising the future perfect or even knowing what these three little dots (that I over use) are called… isn’t actually going to give those moments to very many children.

Things can…and should…be different.

And that’s why my son will not be in school on Tuesday.



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