Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3 .....

This week, I have found myself in numerous conversations with parents whose kids are being put under the pressure of new, rigorous government testing - whether in Reception - yes, reception (!) - or in Year 6. What is going on? It seems the government can come up with no better overhaul of the failing system than to introduce more rigorous tests of ridiculously abstract grammatical concepts, for which the children who are to sit them have not been adequately prepared - leading to pressure on schools, teachers, and children. Children in Year 6, who have felt they are doing OK at school now feel that perhaps they are not doing well enough at all. And what about the children who didn't really think they were doing so well in the first place? It makes me ANGRY. Why do we allow the government to do this to our children? The tests are full of ridiculously abstract grammatical concepts, of which most of us have never heard - though we use them all the time, because we have mastered our language and use it perfectly adequately without ever having undergone said tests. It's funny, people are surprised that home educators do not have to follow a set curriculum. This is sometimes seen as a cause for concern, but who is it that sets our children's curriculum? Who decides which arbitrary facts will constitute this year's tests, and therefore form the important input for this year six cohort? Do you trust these people in government more than you trust your own kids, your own heart, your own values? Do not be afraid, people, to take your children out of school if you feel the stress, the pressure, the system has gone too far. Do not be afraid. Rather, be brave .... Who knows? You might just discover something wonderful. And if Nicky Morgan carries on, I can see the numbers of home educated children swelling. Would this be a cause for concern? You would think the government would welcome parents wading in and taking responsibility for their own children's education as, by 2020, it is predicted 300, 000 children will be without a secondary school place. (And that is not necessarily in their preferred school, but in any school.) I was wobbling a bit over whether I ought to have applied for a place in reception for my youngest son in September. My thinking went along the lines of: "Well, if I apply now, I have a chance of getting him in to a "good" school. If I leave it, our choices diminish." But what on earth is a "good" school? How do we define "good"? All schools subjected to the insane governmental obsession with testing as a means of raising standards are labelling children and messing with their self-esteem right from the beginning. And I do not agree with that. So my boy will stay home. And he will play. And he will learn. And I will see again that education is far, far broader than schooling. Michael Rosen HERE and HERE with fab video from Nicky Morgan at her most engaging, talking to teachers about the reasoning behind the new primary assessments. Both worth a view and a laugh! ;)

1 comment:

  1. Just been reading through your old posts & this one has really struck me as I've literally been struck by the same thought myself in the last month - our 'good' secondary school that everyone wants to get their child into & which we are fortunate enough to live in the catchment for - isn't actually good at all - because the systems within which the staff & leadership have to operate are highly flawed - determined by people who have no clue what they are doing. Why would I trust the government over my own instincts to know what & how my child should be taught. Why am I sending my children into the crazy environment of state education every day? Why would I apply for a place in a secondary school where success & value is only recognised in 'key areas' and there is no importance or value given to arts, music, drama, etc..
    We have decided to pull our boys out of school at the end of this term - after 4 years of watching, worrying & deliberating if that's the right decision. However God has totally surprised me in the last few weeks & convicted me that this is what we should do & now after agonising over it for years - I'm totally at peace with the decision.
    I wrote a list of what I do & don't want for my children in respect of their education (to share with my in-laws) & so many of the things that you have stated in this post were on there. It's comforting to know that you are homeschooling your older children through their secondary school years & that that is working for you. We're going to take it a little at a time & I'm trying not to worry about GCSE's / IGCSE's & all that now - but Suffice to say I will be following your blog closely in the coming years. Thank you & God Bless