There has been quite a heated debate in the news about primary school tests for seven-year old’s. I do ask myself how they managed to gauge the success of the school in my generation when we didn’t have any primary school tests until we got to secondary school. I also don’t remember my eldest son doing these primary school tests either but, I do remember going to sit with my youngest son to do his primary school tests because he has SEN requirements and, therefore, I had to sit with him to do his test. I remember even I struggled to think of a couple of the answers for the maths questions so, with him with special educational needs, there’s absolutely no way he was going to be able to perform under those conditions anyway. The pressure and the alien environment of a quiet school room for the test to take place was going to be enough to put him off achieving anything that morning. On another occasion he was asked not to attend on the day they did his primary school tests so how could this give an accurate reflection of that school’s performace?
I ran a very successful preschool nursery for children from 0 to 5 for seven years. When I first opened, most of the activities we did were play based. The children were able to try things out and experiment allowing them to fail in an safe environment. This is how they learnt. We did number counting and we did writing too. The majority of our children could write their name and count way above 20 by the time they left the nursery. However, after being open a couple years OFSTED arrived and a new set of guidelines and rules were announced. This meant that everything we did had to be accountable for in writing. For instance, we did a Jack in the Beanstalk topic and that included the children growing their own plants. Every morning the children rushed in and couldn’t wait to water the seed because they knew that the seed needed water to grow. However, we were marked down because there was no written evidence that proved we knew the children understood this principle despite the fact the children themselves demonstrated at the inspection visit, they completely got that the seed needed water.
The world’s gone mad! Needless to say after a couple of years of everything the children did having to be written down and explained in print – I gave up the nursery.
So with more than 40,000 parents signing a petition calling for a boycott of primary school tests due to be taken later this month, isn’t it about time us parents were listened too? Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says that taking pupils out of school “even for a day is harmful to their education” against the argument parents are making in that our children are “over tested and in a school system that places more importance on test results and league tables than children’s happiness and joy of learning”. Well said! If I was the Education Secretary, I would suggest that she look at more pressing issues in our schools like class size, if she is worried that certain children are being left behind who may not catch up later in life.
Personally, I truly wonder if these tests are at all helpful to anyone?