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

Ian Hart
Ian Hart

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

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.

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?

---

Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Herald by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Herald simply click here.