Another year, another blunder when it comes to our children’s education. I don’t know of a single parent or indeed teacher that agrees with the way that our children are being tested from such a young age. Of course, SATS aren’t anything new. They’ve certainly been around in one form or another since I have had children in school so that is what, fourteen or so years? And in those years, I have seen parents protest against them until they are red in the face and I have also seen countless blunders not so dissimilar to those that we are seeing this year. I’ve seen goal posts moved and schools being putting under immense pressure from the government. It’s a pretty depressing state of affairs really, isn’t it?
I’m sure some of you might have already heard about the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign if you have children of primary school age? I’ve seen the campaign gather a lot of support in the last week well at least within blogging circles. In all honesty, it doesn’t seem to be a talking point amongst my actual school friends but I guess the bloggers that I follow have the bigger voice when it comes to spreading the word about these things. There is a link there if you want to click through to read more for yourself but basically the campaign is stomping its feet about this years SATS and about children as young as 6 being tested. According to reports, thousands of parents are set to keep their primary school aged children off school next Tuesday in protest. Whilst I do understand their frustration at the situation, I’m just not sure that this boycott is the answer.
First of all, the kids will still go on to sit the exams anyway. I think it’s quite naive to think that a one day boycott by a handful of parents will result in the government throwing their hands up in defeat and binning the whole curriculum as it stands. At best, they might listen to parents concerns but it still means that the children will be sitting the tests that you are protesting against or am I missing something?
Of course, taking your children out of school without permission also means that you could face a fine in line with the latest attendance policies. (Something that I don’t agree with but I think that might be a post for another day!) More than that though, schools are under huge pressure from the government to meet high attendance percentages. Although the boycott might be well intentioned, you could actually be giving your school a whole new headache when they have to present their attendance figures. The school are the ones that will ultimately face the consequences of that missed day and quite frankly, I think they have enough on their plates as it is.
The thought of testing children as young as six is utterly ridiculous. But actually my experience of SATS has not been the horror story that is sometimes being reported and I think that the headlines are quite honestly doing a disservice to good schools that are getting it right. Or at least getting it as right as they can in the most difficult of circumstances. The fact is that our children are being assessed and tested in one way or another from the minute they start formal education. This ‘week of SATS’ conjures up false images of little imps sat in silence in rows of desks taking exam after exam. And I’m sorry but in my experience of four children in two different schools, that has not been the case.
All of my children have sat a version of the tests in Year 2 and not one of them was ever even aware of the fact. The school kept the whole thing so low key that it felt like just another day/week in school. There’s absolutely no reason why this one week in May should feel any more stressful than any other week of the year. I’m sure we can’t be the only school to carry out the tests this way? Trust me, if there had even been a hint of pressure, I would have whisked my children out of school quicker than you could say home education. Besides which, as a parent if I had an inkling of concern, I would have spoken directly and immediately with our actual school. Not protested to the government.
I guess part of the argument is that the protest is not necessarily about your own concerns about your own child but against the bigger picture. And I sympathise with that I really do. I don’t for one minute agree with the constant testing of our children, I think it gets in the way of actually teaching them. And no I don’t think that the curriculum we have in place is giving our children the most rounded of educations. But I do think that there are some amazing teachers (and schools) out there who are doing the very best that they can for our children. There is so much wrong with the education system and the horrendous pressures being applied to schools by the government. In fact there is so much wrong that I don’t even know how you could begin to put it right. One thing is for sure and that is that the Year 2 SATS are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately I can see this as a parent of children much further down the line.
I can’t blame parents for wanting to support the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign. I understand that need to take a stand against something that they think is so wrong. And do you know what? I really hope that their voices can be heard. If they shout loud enough maybe something will have to be done? I’m just afraid that this boycott on Tuesday doesn’t feel like the answer. Not for me anyway. I am damned if I know what the answer is though. Sigh.
Have you heard about the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign? Will you be joining in with the boycott on Tuesday?