IMAGINE LIVING DIFFERENTLY,
LEARNING, CREATING, GROWING ....
WITHOUT SCHOOLING.


Friday, 29 October 2010

The Nonsense of SATs

Yesterday, I received an email from MyChild trying to persuade me to purchase a pack which would help me to help my child prepare for the SATs tests. I quote:

"The SATs - the Standard Assessment Tests - are commonly misunderstood. They are not just for compiling school league tables! SATs sum up four key factors:

* The knowledge your child has gained
* How far your child has come
* How your child compares to the national average
* What your child needs to reach his or her full potential

The idea of the SATs is to show what pupils have learned and retained over the course of the year. The tests help teachers and parents learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of what your child understands about a subject, and where to focus attention.

How SATs measures your child
The SATs will measure - for the first time - your child’s ability in English, Maths and Science against hundreds of thousands of other children, in their school and across the UK. SATs are one of the great milestones since your baby was assessed for weight, height, hearing and speech!

The educational level your child has reached will become an official record of progress, with the results showing whether or not your child has reached the expected National Curriculum level for that year group.

The pressure is on. If the children measure up, so does the school.

It is essential that you understand why you should help your child prepare for their SATs.

The fact is that you cannot leave it all up to your child's teacher. There are obvious time limitations in the school day, and it’s difficult for a teacher to single out an individual child for extra aid.

Many parents will say: “But what if the tests make my child anxious?”

This is where MyChild comes in, and is exactly why we commissioned a special collection of SATs practice papers, plus hints, tips and expert advice.

The school year will pass quickly, so by giving your child a helping hand NOW they’ll be able to breeze through SATs week and get top marks!"


I am so disappointed by the general acceptance of Government measures for 'improving' education.
One of the reasons we decided to take our children out of school was to remove the pressure of a system which feels the need to constantly measure them and assess them in relation to others, and according to the national averages. The temptation for schools, teachers and now (this email implies) parents as well, to teach our children to test rather than nurturing a true love of learning and intrinsic motivation to develop and grow as a human being in a broad and balanced way is a real concern to me.

The email says:
"The SATs will measure - for the first time - your child’s ability in English, Maths and Science against hundreds of thousands of other children, in their school and across the UK."

As a concerned parent, I am well aware of how my children are developing in their mathematical, language and scientific skills without the government imposing any tests on them. I also believe that English, Maths and Science are only a part of the broad and balanced curriculum needed to help children develop into whole and healthy adults. I do not need to know how my child measures up against hundreds of thousands of other children across the country as long as I know he is developing happily and healthily and is comfortable and confident in his own skin.

Observing my unschooled 4-year old, I notice that many of the things he is intrinsically motivated to learn at present are on the curriculum for the reception year. He is figuring out consonant-vowel-consonant words, for example, and is interested in simple addition. But these are not learning objectives I have imposed on him, they are just learning opportunities which he is choosing to take. It reminds me that the curriculum probably started with the child. Sadly we forget that, and now assume the child needs school / teachers / tests / pressure to learn these things.

The email says:
SATs are one of the great milestones since your baby was assessed for weight, height, hearing and speech!

We seem to forget that in contrast to SATs, our child's growth, hearing, speech developed naturally in the home context without the need for Government pressures and league tables and without any child anxiety.

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