So today many parents across England are in protest, they are not sending their Primary aged children to school andI believe they have a point. These parents feel that there is too much stress created for their children at a very young age by having the SATs tests twice during primary education, what I can’t help thinking is why, when most education experts and psychologists agree that children should learn through play, also when we have a plethora of research evidencing that children at a young age learn best through play; did the government still introduce SATs? Why?
Unfortunately I believe I know the answer and it makes me cringe, this testing culture is little to do with the child progressing and more to do with the Governments ‘tick box’ culture, sad but true as someone who has worked in that arena in many different ‘hats’, I see it all the time.
I have nothing against measuring impact of the teaching, working with children, early help, child protection, youth support and the list goes on. It’s important to measure impact but when the measuring takes over the actual delivery of an effective service then we have lost sight of what is truly important, sometimes measuring means that services have to be delivered in a different way, therefore, not always aligning to the needs of the children receiving the service. It always seems so very reactive rather than the preferred proactive approach.
Teaching has taken so many hits (imposed changes) from the government over the years; I have seen teaching go from something that was fulfilling for both the teachers and the children to a relentless list of reports, evidencing and swatting for both parties. Many of my teaching friends feel that there is so much emphasis on recording and paperwork they cannot provide the type of teaching that they aspire to, the style of teaching that will provide for every child’s learning style, they have no time for paying as much individual attention as they would have liked and they feel they are so snowed under they have no choice but to take work home even during the holidays!
From the child’s perspective, they go to school, have to learn lots of things and as the SATS approach the atmosphere changes somewhat despite teachers’ efforts to make it as natural and relaxed as possible for the children. The children get so much homework, they feel snowed under and have little time to actually be a child and learn through play with their friends and neighbours as we used to.
I distinctly remember my own children spending the best part of their evening sitting at the dining table doing homework, I would get involved as that was the only way I could spend any time with them. They would come in, have a snack, do homework, eat dinner, do homework and only have about half an hour of free time before bed…I hated it but homework needed to be done and if they didn’t get it all done they would stress so a no win for me as I couldn’t be the rebellious individual that I am. The school’s homework policy stated clearly, no more than half an hour of homework per day, however, the reality was very different and not to mention that each child would complete the given homework at their own individual pace. I have to admit, looking at what my children got, it wold never be a half hour stint and how this was estimated at half hour by the teacher setting the homework is also beyond me.
Some parents are so focused on making sure that their children pass their SATS that they get tuition perhaps in the evenings or at the weekend which takes up even more of the child’s free play, ‘being a child’ time. Those children are getting a ‘double whammy’ , one form school and one form, well-meaning parents who don’t realise that the impact of their efforts is not going to be what they hoped but quite the opposite. The impact on their child’s psychological and emotional well-being could affect them much farther into their future than anyone of us would think.
My efforts to support my children’s education was to take them out into the world to experience whatever it was they were learning at school, good wholesome days out no writing, no reading just exploring and learning through discussion and questions, at their pace, on their terms. Now I am no educational expert but sometimes I believe you need to be standing on the outside edge of that circle to see things more clearly.
What are we creating? We are creating children who are stressed and have no idea what it is to be a carefree child…they have no time to do that, worse still, we do all this and we are still rating at number 28 or 29 (variable according to the different streams of research)on the global scale of standards of education, and did you know that one in five British children leave school without acquiring basic skills? This means that they leave school without the basic proficiency in English and Maths (the other subjects have no chance!) These findings are in the OECD report.
It does then beg the question…why are we still insisting on doing things that are evidently not working to serve their main purpose which is to educate our children? For me it begs the question, when are the government going to acknowledge or realise that their need for statistics and evidence is having a crippling impact on the our adults of the future, it’s scary to think what will happen when it’s their turn to contribute to this country and our economy….how will that happen if they are leaving school ill-prepared to even complete a standard application form or pass the most basic of interview tests?
I would strongly recommend that the government leave the teaching to those who know how to do it best…..out dedicated teachers and leave the rest f the children’s services work to all the dedicated professionals and practitioners who, if left to their own devices and expertise, would work wonders for many of our children and young people who are currently struggling to create a positive future for themselves.
Here is a piece form a young person who feels terribly let down by our current education system:
I have always been an advocate for this approach, there is so much research to show the benefits to our children if we just allowed them to be children:
This short video shows the exemplary system in Finland which has placed them in first place in global standards of education. Some find it quite radical as ‘that’s not how we do it’ here, we are a little stuck in our old ways, but the proof is in the Global Education Standards positioning for Finland; this stuff works! We have read about this on many occasions over the years and yet no one seems to want to model this approach despite the evidence that it clearly works to create top ranking children who are permitted to be children and do what children do best, learn through pay and exploration.We should certainly go ‘over to the other side’ and learn from the Finish exactly how we put this in place to create a brighter more balanced future for our children: : https://www.facebook.com/londonplay.charity/videos/956499087796724/
I acknowledge that this is a much bigger debate and this blog only touching the tip of what we should all be discussing in relation educating our children, the adults of the future but I do hope this is a good start and a prompt for more debates around this topic.