No, Mr Cameron, No.

No, Mr Cameron, no.
There’s been a post bubbling up inside me about education for a while now, only I’ve not been sure how to articulate what I feel. There’s so much to say.

I keep hearing how changing government standards and expectations are pushing more and more (wonderful) teachers out of the profession. I keep reading about the expectations, targets and tests that are making it harder and harder for teachers to teach in a way that instils a passion for learning into our kids. I’ve read and thought about the impact that these demands could have on the mental health of the next generation; how making school a stressful – or less enjoyable – place to be could damage children’s relationship with education forever. As a parent it worries me. As a member of society it worries me.

We had our school parents’ meetings a few weeks ago and our six-year-old son’s teachers gave us mock SATs papers to look at. I could hardly believe it: five thick test papers covering English and Maths. With a huge emphasis on grammar. With TEST emblazoned on the front and at the back ensuring that any teacher – in the knowledge that telling kids they’re doing ‘tests’ can cause stress – will fail in a mission to pass them off as just ‘some fun’. With one of the maths papers requiring an ability to read and reason before you even get to the actual mathematics. FIVE THICK TEST PAPERS. They’re only six and seven years old!

Then I went into school last week and noticed the handwriting of the kids in my son’s class. I looked and I remembered the papers they were going to be given and my heart sank. How are they all going to manage? These kids aren’t unintelligent or incapable, their handwriting is unrefined because they’re six and seven. They can’t all read perfectly and reason wonderfully yet because they’re six and seven. And the fact that the teachers are unlikely to be able to train them to pass the tests with flying colours isn’t because the teachers are bad – they’re great! But the kids are flippin’ six and seven years old.

The government can’t do this, I thought – they can’t assess all these children’s intelligence and aptitude and potential and possibilities based on these tests. These tests don’t look at how a child’s eyes light up when someone reads them a story or how they can draw a wonderful picture with only a handful of pencils or how they can invent an entire imaginary world with the contents of a recycling bin.

These tests don’t show that that child is awesome at football, that this one can captivate a room with her wicked sense of humour, or that this little boy is really empathetic and kind. Oh, or that this little girl here could one day be a novelist if we don’t teach her, right now aged six, that she can’t write much at all. She can’t write much YET because she’s SIX.

And yet they ARE trying to assess our kids, and these tests necessitate a style of teaching that’s counter to so much research about the best ways that kids learn. A way of teaching that means the rules of grammar take precedence over encouragement to write for the enjoyment of it, or means maths questions must be tackled in a way that no one would ever use in the real world. We have so many talented teachers in this country that are trying so hard to wrestle with the curriculum to make learning as engaging as possible, but the government is making it harder and harder. No wonder they’re resigning in droves. No wonder schools are struggling to recruit staff.

The government can’t do this, I thought.

They can’t do this to our kids.

And then I thought… what if… what if we just don’t let them?

What if on SATs day we parents all agree not to send our kids into school?

Not because we don’t believe in school. Not because we don’t believe in education. But because we DO. We believe, no, dammit, we KNOW it is incredibly important. That it is fundamental to society and that we, as a society, have to get it RIGHT (or heck, right now I’d settle for just ‘not so completely wrong that it makes my eyes bleed’).

What if instead of school that day we have a National ‘Learning Is Fun’ day, where we all teach our kids by giving them exciting, meaningful and memorable experiences?

Where we teach them love of words and stories and literature by reading them great books?

Where we ignite their imaginations with drama and stories and art?

Where we teach them history by visiting interactive museums and talking to people who had real-life experiences?

Where we instil a love of maths or science through practical experiences and experiments?

Where we teach them about the things we love, be they gardening or building or hiking or snorkelling or painting or writing or morris dancing… whatever… in the best way we can?

We do it together, with friends, family or wider communities or we do it on our own, just us and our kids, but everyone does their bit, even if it’s only a tiny bit, to show their children the fun parts of learning and the ways in which it can affect our lives.

And then we share, share, share what we’ve learnt. We share it on social media, on TV, on the radio, in the local paper. We share by drawing pictures and putting up posters… doing pieces of performance art in the street (I don’t know, whatever, just think of something!). We share as much as we can, as widely as we can.

And together we show the government what teachers have been trying to tell them all along if they’d only listen: what really makes children tick, what really ignites their passions, what sets their imaginations free and lets their potential soar.

On that day, we’d do our best to support our country’s wonderful teaching profession. It would be a day when we as parents would say: we will not put our children through this. Our kids deserve better. Teachers and schools deserve better. Society deserves better.

No, Mr Cameron, no.

What if..?

***

UPDATE: I was so overwhelmed by the response to this post that, along with a fellow blogger, I’ve launched a #THISislearning campaign. Please click here to find out more!

*** Since I wrote this post a new petition has been launched at 38 degrees, calling for a SATs boycott on 3rd May. Click here to find out more***

mumturnedmom

This post was inspired by The Prompt which, this week, is ‘Mighty’. I often feel helpless in the face of this government and I got to thinking that although I feel tiny, together we have the potential to be mighty.

You might like to sign these petitions calling for the extension of the Early Years Foundation Stage from “birth to 5″ to “birth to 7″:

This one is on UK Government and Parliament Petitions. If it gets 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in parliament.

This one is on Change.org.

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99 thoughts on “No, Mr Cameron, No.

    1. Katie Story

      Amazing. What you have written expresses my feelings exactly. I’m a teacher and so so frustrated with what is happening to our education system and in turn, our children. I have shared your post and hope that it succeeds in making a difference. Thank you for saying what so many of us are feeling.
      Best wishes, Katie Story x

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  1. Carie @ Space for the Butterflies

    Oh I LOVE this! What a very brilliant plan. The ever rapid pursuit of earlier and earlier educational attainment drives me fuming mad because it completely contradicts every single piece of research into education which rather leads me to conclude that it’s not so much about educating our children as pretending to provide childcare so that we can all be hustled back to work. When our wonderful village school sends out a note before parents evening to say don’t worry if your children have slipped a level since last time, the government made everything harder, you know something has gone badly wrong.
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    1. Maddy Post author

      The ever increasing standards are just wrong aren’t they?! My son’s teachers were saying the expectations are changing so fast that methods they taught them earlier in the year to help with maths (number squares, I think), the kids are now not allowed to use in the tests. I’m glad your school is looking out for the kids. My son’s teachers are the same, but it puts them under so much pressure. Argh! Thanks for commenting Carie.x
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  2. Sara | mumturnedmom

    Oh, I love this! My eldest sat exams for the first time last year (he hadn’t yet turned nine), proper 90 minutes, exam conditions, multiple papers… He did well, but it was so much pressure. This year he has the same, and is sitting eight English and Math papers… Eight! I come from a family where academic expectations were very high, and I have had to stop myself from, in turn, putting pressure on my kids. I actually think the school system here in Massachussetts is good, much wider curriculum than we saw in my son’s first year of school in Scotland and a lot of emphasis on science, social studies etc. as well as English and Maths. But, testing is a big thing here too, and I do think it’s too much at this age. As Carie says, it goes against all the research! Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x
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    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes, it really does go against the research – and educationally we’re lagging behind many European countries who go WITH the research and don’t start formal education till 7. It’s baffling. One of my good friends is a primary school teacher in Scotland – they have their own system there and it sounds infinitely better than the one here! Glad your son did well in the tests although eight sounds very young to do such formal exams! I’m not surprised kids get stressed these days. Thanks for commenting, Sara. xx
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  3. Astrid

    Wow, it is such a shame that governments are requiring these tests for six-year-olds. Back when I was in school, we had a test similar to the SATs only in the last year of elementary school. I excelled at test-taking but failed at pretty much everythign else due to my multiple disabilities, so my abilities were greatly overestimated. I did pass the tests with flying colors but failed miserably once I was thrown into the real world, then people said “but you’re so intelligent, why can’t you succeed?”. The opposite is also very true with kids who are good at real-world learning but bad at test-taking being thought of as dumb. #theprompt
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    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes, there is so much that tests don’t and can’t tell you about how someone responds to the real world. Tests are good at testing how good people are at doing tests (!) but, at this young age, not much else! Thanks for commenting Astrid. x
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  4. nicola young

    My youngest is in yer 2 and I saw the expected level work. It is horrendous and we have been given lots of things to do to help our children reach these levels. The writing for ‘expected level’ was a previous year 6. There is no way my son could write like that. I just don’t get it. When my other two did SATS at this stage, they didn’t know anything about it, other than they had to do quiet work and not talk to each other. More importantly, we didn’t know anything about it either and we weren’t made to feel that we had to do so much to coach our children for these tests. Ludicrous.
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    1. Maddy Post author

      I know what you mean, Nicola. Our eldest son took his SATs less than two years ago but things have got so much more extreme since then. Like your daughters, he didn’t know he was being tested. If kids are being tested, that’s how it should be. They shouldn’t be under pressure and neither should the parents!
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  5. https://angela10551.wordpress.com

    I am so angry about this. Children’s development cannot be measured in tests at this age – what is the government doing? Unbelievable!

    I am so grateful that I live abroad, where tests are not done until much later! (8/9yrs)

    Sharing this post.

    xx

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    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s completely ridiculous isn’t it?! Yes, you can feel very glad to live in Switzerland (as if I wasn’t envious enough – you have mountains!). Thanks for commenting and sharing the post, Angela. x
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  6. Nicole

    I 100% agree with everything you’ve said in this fantastic post. I was having dinner with two friends last week, friends I love who are two of the kindest people I know, and they kept mentioning “the 4 plus”. Apparently this is a thing & they’re prepping their almost 2 year old already to pass so she can get into their preferred schools. They feel as though they have to to give her the best chance in life. It really saddens me that this sort of thing goes on and is becoming embedded in our culture. Who wants this? Great post xx
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    1. Maddy Post author

      Oh wow, that sounds stressful! Thankfully up here (in the wilds of Northumberland) there are plenty of good first schools so I’ve never worried about what school any of mine might get into or felt any need to prep them for anything. I think there are parts of the country (and particular schools) where parental pressure is really extreme and everyone ends up feeling they need to do more and more to ensure their child will be ok. The government setting these standards just ramps up the pressure and it’s so unhelpful (to put it mildly)! Thanks for commenting, Nicole and yes, it really saddens me too. xx
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  7. Iona@redpeffer

    I’m in complete agreement Roth you as you will probably know. I hate the fact that I have to stand my children through an education system that I believe is fundamentally wrong. I also resent the fact that my voice isn’t heard and that if I were to keep my kids off on SATS days, the school would ‘suffer’. My kids are likely to do well and push up levels. But to be brutally honest I couldn’t care less about that. I care that they want to lean, that they come home full to the brim with enthusiasm for learning. I care that they feel valued. None of which seems to be a high priority for any government over the past 20 years in my view.
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    1. Maddy Post author

      I totally agree with you – feeling valued at school and as a person and feeling enthusiastic about learning is so much more important than being able to pass tests. And I understand the issue with not wanting the school to suffer by keeping your kids away on test day – I feel the same about my 6yo. I think for something like this to work there would have to be enough parents involved nationwide for it to be impossible to penalise schools. we don’t want the schools or the teachers to suffer we just want the government to listen! Thanks for commenting, Iona x
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  8. Di Castle

    Maddy, this is a wonderful idea. I taught for over 35 years in Further and Higher Education often having in front of me kids who had been ‘turned off’ education. So you can see I believe in children enjoying school and learning. I somehow think this was Gove’s idea as before that there was talk of assessing children by what was done in class and NOT with TEST papers especially with the word emblazoned.
    My daughter tells me that my little granddaughter who will be 6 in August must know ALL her tables by the end of the year ie by July – goodness sake she will still only be 5!!.I was horrified. We should share this blog post on social media and KEEP SHARING it until it gets read by someone with some sense. Sadly there is not a lot of sense in our government at the moment.

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    1. Maddy Post author

      To have to know all your times tables aged five is ridiculous! My son is an August birthday too so will take SATs aged only 6. It’s all just so extreme and pointless, and potentially so damaging to our kids! I read a blog post by Michael Rosen this morning about what’s expected of 11 year olds (to be able to answer questions that people with multiple degrees and years of experience and expertise can’t’) and it hammered home all of this. I can imagine, from the teacher’s point of view, it’s so much harder to teach kids who have lost any enthusiasm for learning. Thanks so much for commenting and for sharing, Di xx
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  9. Sam

    My six year old’s school also sent out a letter with their reports warning us that a lot of our children would have comments such as “the new curriculum puts a much greater emphasis on xxxxxx and (child’s name) will need to continue to improve in this area to meet the age related expectations at the end of the year”. His teacher expressed the opinion that a couple of years down the line the government is likely to have a set of statistics to show that this experiment of theirs hasn’t work and they will go back to how things were before. Unfortunately our children have to be the guinea pigs and what you’ve said here makes me feel really fearful about the long term damage. Is there a petition going on the government’s petitions website…
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    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s so worrying isn’t it, Sam? Even if they do backtrack in a few years, in the meantime our kids have all been through the wringer. I’ve now added a couple of petition links to the bottom of this post. I’ll add more when I get the chance. Thanks for commenting. xx
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    2. Roger Payne

      I don’t think the government will ever admit their policy has not worked, because that would mean taking some responsibility and admitting fallability. Instead, they will “discover” (probably in the run-up to an election) that it was “failing” schools and “sub-standard” teachers who did something wrong or badly and that this has led to poor results, necessitating more changes. This is the pattern.

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  10. Keri

    My Daughter is in Y2 but won’t be 7 until the end of August. I was shocked at the government expectations of her at a recent curriculum evening! She is bright and doing well at school but I doubt that she will reach the “expected” levels.
    Her teachers admitted that they had to google some of the required terms and that our Children are Guinea pigs. I really hope that my DD and her friends aren’t too disheartened by the tests (which the school weren’t intending to call tests – how will they manage that with huge print emblazoned on them??) at a time of year when they are already exhausted and nervous about the demands junior school will bring.
    Her current school is fantastic and the staff are clearly doing their best and I wouldn’t want to damage the school by boycotting but seriously, how can we send a clear message to the government? All her times tables before she turns 7? Really? I distinctly remember that being required of me at age 10.

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    1. Maddy Post author

      I know how you feel, Keri – My son will also do SATs aged six as he’s also an August birthday and I also wouldn’t want to hurt the school by boycotting the tests. I think if enough people boycotted, nationwide, then it wouldn’t hurt our schools because they’d all be in a similar situation and it would be such a clear message to the government that they’d have to listen. But it’s getting to that point that’s key. Apparently in the US opting out of tests is already happening: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/17/living/parents-movement-opt-out-of-testing-feat/ Hope your daughter and all our little ones cope with it all! Thanks for commenting.x
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    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s really sad isn’t it Merlinda? Even two years ago when my eldest son took the tests the school were able to hide the fact they were tests from the kids but now, with those labels… And they’re so much harder than two years ago too! Thanks for commenting. x
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  11. Carol Cameleon

    Oh my days Maddy, what a fantastic idea. Imagine the impact that would have… I would be right there because yes, I agree with your ethos behind this post. Just a few weeks ago, hubby went to a workshop where it was made very clear that there’s a lot, an awful lot of work left to be done in a particular before the end of the school year. What concerns me greatly is that if our little girl (6) isn’t an ‘all-rounder’ but errs more towards other subjects, she’ll be put under unnecessary pressure to work harder on what she might not excel at, instead of encouraged to excel further in what she really is good at… To me, that is the job of a good teacher and attentive parents to notice what our children excel at and guide them towards excelling further. Like you, I’m not sure I’m articulating this very well but basically, education should be fun. I want our little girl to continue to skip to school (until she’s too old to) because she loves learning, not dragging her heals because of the looming test! :( #theprompt Sorry for the lengthy response but I too and very passionate about this!
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    1. Maddy Post author

      Oh, no need to apologise, Carol, I love a lengthly response and I’m glad you feel passionately about it too! Yes, education should be fun, and making it dull or stressful or so complicated that it’s irrelevant , just turns kids off school and that can have profound implication on their futures. We want as many kids as possible to be happy at school because when kids are engaged in the classroom it benefits them all. I really think it’s something that should matter to all parents regardless of whether their child will sail through the tests or struggle. It affects all of us. Thanks for your supportive comment. x
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      1. Carol Cameleon

        And that’s a very valid point that its affects us all, not just the parents of children who are excelling or struggling. This post needs to go viral Maddy. Not in the sense of numbers but to make a difference. I so wish I could make it go viral. Have you tried to tweet Downing Street or someone similar? I say it slightly in jest but actually deep down, I mean it. Bloggers have mahoosive influence on these things at times, why should you post be any different? (As a side note, I’m off to see the film Suffragettes at the weekend… and I’m not normally that political!)… until it comes to education.
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  12. Dianne Gage

    As a head teacher for 10 years and 23 in education I totally get this. I lie awake worrying for all my fabulous kids and think “it shouldn’t be like this”. I think your idea is great. Parent power is what the Education minister wants, so let’s give it to her! ;)

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks for this comment Dianne, it really means a lot to have support from someone with so much experience in education. I would love to be able to change things for schools, teachers, kids and all of us, through parent power!
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    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Cara, yes, one of my friends is a primary school teacher in Scotland and she says you have nothing like the problems up there that we do here – thankfully! Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate it. x
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  13. Pempi

    Yes a big reason to leave teaching was seeing the hurdle the children were expected to get over getting ever higher and the “fun” of being a child and all that enthusiasm and curiosity being stifled because “they need to know this not that”! A much better system is needed where children are not pressured to perform – I loved teaching – I just didn’t love teaching children towards a set of tests. A superb “Mighty” rant let’s hope people in power take notice :) Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace
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    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Pempi. It’s so sad that we’re losing great teachers because they’re not allowed to teach in a way that they know actually works for kids. Thanks for commenting. x

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  14. Louise

    As a parent of a child who is facing KS2 SATS next year – and as a school governor – I wholeheartedly agree with you. I also despair at the SPAG tests my poor boy is going to have to take (and probably do very badly at). Great post.
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    1. Maddy Post author

      It’s just not right is it Louise? So tough for those who will struggle but I think it’s unfair on all the kids regardless of how they’ll do in the tests because it necessitates a style of teaching that makes learning less fun for all. Thanks for commenting. x
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  15. Rebecca Ann Smith

    So good to hear a practical suggestion for positive change – I feel at odds with this Government’s policies on so many things but most of the time I’m at a loss about what to do to show my disapproval, let alone take action. My kids would love a Learning is Fun day, and I know my KS2 teacher husband would too! So many of us feel the same way – so if we all worked together….

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    1. Maddy Post author

      That’s exactly how I feel about this government too Becky – at odds but wondering what on earth we can actually do. I would so love to make a difference. The response to this post has been amazing. There’s a real appetite for change out there… Thanks for commenting. xx
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  16. Not A Frumpy Mum

    What a great idea!! I teach in a secondary school and hate the way 11-16 year olds are tested and constantly being told they are underachieving when compared to unrealistic targets. Of course, it affects their self-confidence and there are some that just can’t handle the pressure and will leave school with worrying self-esteem issues. The thought of my now 4 year old son entering the education system scares me so much when I hear of such young children being tested. Every teacher I know is opposed to this level of testing but yet nobody in government will listen. Worrying times ahead!
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    1. Maddy Post author

      I really worry for the emotional wellbeing of our kids, as you’re seeing in your school. This sort of thing can affect them for the rest of their lives. It astounds me that the government isn’t listening to all the experts on this. Thanks for commenting x
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  17. Luisa Giordano

    Yep, teachers are despairing too. As a parent and a teacher I completely agree with everything in this post. I’m considering boycotting my sons Yr6 SATS next year. It’s ridiculous

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  18. Karen (@karenjwhitlock)

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am a secondary school teacher. The changes that I have seen happening in education in the 16 years that I have been teaching fill me with dread, not just because I can see that we are failing so many kids with an education system which just doesn’t work from them, but because now my eldest daughter is in Reception, and I am scared of what her school experience will do for her. She loves being at school, and I fear the day, that she switches off from learning because of endless tests.
    All over social media there is far too much of a “parents vs teachers” attitude – but we need to remember we both want the same thing and we do really need to take a stance against the government together. I love the idea of boycotting SATs, I love the idea of the “Learning is Fun day” – but as a teacher I want this to be what they experience every day – both at home and at school.
    Thank you so much for linking up this brilliant post with #sundaystars
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    1. Maddy Post author

      I totally agree – every day should be a learning is fun day. If we make school a positive experience (which is what so many teachers are trying to do but it’s becoming harder and harder) then it has a huge positive impact on kids for the rest of their lives. Switching kids off education causes so many problems on an individual and societal level. All our children matter and we need to act together. Teachers and parents are on the same side – the parents vs teachers stuff makes me sad. Thanks for commenting, Karen
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  19. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love)

    Brilliantly written post Maddy and I completely agree that testing 6 and 7 year olds in this way is ridiculous and puts children under too much stress at a young age, not to mention potentially setting them up to believe that they are no good at certain things. If I had a child undergoing SATs at that age, I have to confess I’d be tempted to boycott them too. My eldest has not yet started school but the more I’m reading about the way schools are going thanks to various government policies and how disheartened so many good teachers are becoming, the more home schooling is becoming an appealing option.
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    1. Maddy Post author

      I’ve heard so many more people talking about home education recently, and I’m not surprised! We don’t want to give our kids the message so early on that they failing at this and that because they’re not (yet) able to answer those test questions. It makes no sense to me. Thanks for your supportive comment, Louise. xx
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  20. Rachael

    The idea of testing 6 year olds in this way brings me out in a cold sweat. I’m not there yet but am already seeing the damage the method of teaching to pass tests can do. :( Will share more privately! xx
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  21. John Turner

    Tories really don’t like paid-for-by-public-funds education. As both a governor of a small (100 pupils) primary school and a grandfather of a five year old I am as angry at what they are doing as you are. Forcing SATs on very young children is in the same strategy camp as forcing academisation (or whatever their stupid word for it is).
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  22. Milliecat

    Thankyou thankyou thankyou as a teacher who has left primary due to not being able to teach children in the way which they deserve and as a parent. A beautifully written post which encapsulates the truth; a test cannot and never will be able to tell you a child’s ability. Ability in what? On what day? At what time? Who decides what is measured and what is important? So many questions that cannot be answered because education and learning does not fit neatly into test boxes and levels and it never will. Please let’s make this day happen, parents and teachers want the same thing; what is best for the children we love and admire, and we know what that is better than anyone in the department of education. Parent and social media power could make this happen!!!

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  23. Nicky

    Thank you, from another primary school teacher. Teachers know that this is wrong and the unions are fighting as much as they can, but it is parent power we need. Please share this post as much as possible.
    As teachers, we know what is best for our pupils and we just what to be allowed to teach in the way we know works. Primary education in particular should be about inspiring a passion for learning, in all areas of the curriculum, not about setting them up to fail at 6 years old. Share, share, share!

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    1. Maddy Post author

      I’m so with you on this – passion for learning, teachers being able to teach in a way they know works best, not setting kids up to fail so young… yes, yes, yes! I’m pleased to say this post has been viewed well over 7000 times! I’ve written a follow up post now too. Thanks so much for commenting Nicky, it means so much to hear from teachers.
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  24. Kamsin

    I live in Japan. I have this romantic view of education in Britain.

    Another one of Mr Cameron’s brilliant (sarcasm font required) policies means that I am effectively an exile from the country I was born and raised in because my husband in a non-EU national and I am not the main breadwinner.

    But when I think about my son’s education and where he will have the best chance to grow up accepted for who he is not just seen as “half” (the Japanese word for mixed race kids), I want to say that England would be the best place for him to be.

    Japanese education works kids into the ground. There are entrance exams and competition at almost every level. There are many good things about Japanese education but creativity and independent thought, which are too things important to me, seem to be lacking.

    But then I read things like this and I wonder if the education system is anything like my romantic view anymore. Both my husband and I talk about wanting my son to be educated at this some of his schools year in England. I want to believe that would still be the best choice, if we can just figure out how to get around the unfair visa rules.
    Kamsin recently posted…Guest posting for dummiesMy Profile

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    1. David

      Please… don’t just blame Cameron…. this has been in the making since Callaghan stood up on his hind legs and said that English education was failing……. that was back in about 1979 and this is a result of that attitude.

      Reply
      1. Tom Parnham

        What does it matter where it started, it’s the incumbent government that are perpetuating it and as such they’re the ones that need stopping. This doesn’t need to be turned into a political football, it’s about the children.

        Reply
      2. Maddy Post author

        Hi David, I know education has been heading in this direction for years but as Cameron is in office, it makes sense to say ‘no’ to him – he has the power to make change. Thanks for your supportive comment below too… will reply to that soon.
        Maddy recently posted…on being a revolutionaryMy Profile

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    2. Maddy Post author

      Love the idea of ‘sarcasm font’. The Japanese Education system sounds exhausting. There’s still so much that’s good in British education – the teachers! And I think Early Years is less pressured with an understanding that kids learn through play. Hope you figure things out for yourselves and your son, thanks for commenting, Kamsin. x
      Maddy recently posted…on being a revolutionaryMy Profile

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  25. Jo Winwood

    You have articulated the thoughts of so many in this post, Maddy. I am a former secondary teacher who hated all the testing I had to do with my students. So many of them were making wonderful progress but weren’t acknowledged because the levels were so high they’d never reach them. Yet my opinion as a professional was of no value; it didn’t fit the criteria so wasn’t ‘true’ or ‘real’. One school even sent some students on day trips when the tests were happening so they didn’t spoil the table of results! Better to have absences than students not reaching the silly standards apparently! So I’m all in favour of your idea of removing kids from the tests and dong so ‘real’ education with them. Here’s hoping it takes off as an idea.
    Jo Winwood recently posted…So what’s it called?My Profile

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  26. James

    It really encourages me to read a post like this – thank you! I teach Year 5 and have taught Year 6 and the increased expectations now placed on children are, frankly, ridiculous. I am also dad to two lovely kids, one of whom will be in Year 6 next year. The last thing I want is for kids – mine or anyone’s – to face so much pressure at such a young age. But as a teacher I am left with little choice but to follow the system we have or quit. It’s good to know that there are parents who are aware of the present state of testing and assessment – keep applying the pressure, please!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks for this comment, James. I feel the same about not wanting to pressure kids. It’s awful that teachers are trapped in your situation. I only hope we can all work together to find a way out.
      Maddy recently posted…on being a revolutionaryMy Profile

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  27. David

    I was kicked into retirement because I told my year group leader how much fun my class were having finding out why the ancient Egyptians used salt during mummification and wanted to answer some questions which arose from our investigations. She replied, “You can’t do that david. You don’t have the time and it’s not in the National Curriculum.”
    I tell every new teacher I meet that they must have fun whilst teaching so that their pupils can have fun learning and will want to carry on learning.
    Thank you so much for this post… between us I used to tell parents who did not want their children to “do” SATS that there were some wonderful exhibitions that they could take their children to see…..and little hints like that.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Exactly, pupils who have fun learning will want to continue learning and teachers who enjoy it will want to continue, and all that enthusiasm is exactly what we want to promote… or it would be if any sense was applied to the curriculum! Interesting to hear your thoughts on SATs too. Thanks for commenting, David.
      Maddy recently posted…rabbit in the headlights – introvert alert!My Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      They’re supposed to be how the government judges how good the teachers and the school are. Which is why it’s so depressing when it’s such a bad way of seeing how well teachers are teaching and how well kids are learning! Thanks for the supportive comment, Stephanie.
      Maddy recently posted…rabbit in the headlights – introvert alert!My Profile

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  28. LetKidsBeKids

    What an amazing and passionate blog post! We are trying to organise a national Kids Strike on 3rd May in SUPPORT of schools and teachers to show that we have had enough and we all have a say in the way our schools are being forced to run by Government. Please see our website https://letthekidsbekids.wordpress.com and our Twitter, Facebook and 38 Degrees petitions. Hopefully working together WE can affect some positive changes.

    Reply
  29. Elaine bennett

    Wow just wow! So powerful and thanks for the nod to my extend eyfs petitions! Please come and join my keeping early years unique fb page!

    Reply
  30. Becky Cowley

    What a great idea! We were lucky because at my daughters school they prepare them for the dreaded SATs but don’t but pressure on them, in fact they didn’t tell them that’s what they were doing. I always worry about children who are not that academic but excel in other things, are they in the future going to get lost. It’s a worry
    Becky Cowley recently posted…Month in a Minute – March 2016My Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes there will always be some who are fine with the tests but I, like you, want education to be for all our kids. They’ve not been telling my sons class they will be ding tests either which is why his teachers were dismayed to see TEST written on the front and back! Thanks for commenting, Becky. x
      Maddy recently posted…on being a revolutionaryMy Profile

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  31. Helen | Wonderfully Average

    Love, love, love this! I completely agree with every word you’ve written. My little boy is only 2, but already I’m worried that his school career is just going to be about coaching him for tests and taking all the joy out of learning. I’ll be signing the petitions and sharing the post xx
    Helen | Wonderfully Average recently posted…Bump diary: week 24My Profile

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  32. Mrs H

    Wow, this is an amazing post and I agree with every word. The idea of children that young taking tests horrifies me. It is so sad. Children should be children for as long as possible. They should be able to enjoy this wonderful world and explore it in their own time. Forcing them to do tests and to show what they are capable of, makes them grow up far too quickly. And as you say, it takes the enjoyment out of learning. And learning is a wonderful experience. Plus, all children have different abilities and skills. They all develop at different rates. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with them. It just means that they are young children. Mr Cameron only cares about keeping up with other countries and league tables. He doesn’t actually care about our children or society. Enough is enough. Fabulous post and I hope that it makes a real difference. Hugs Lucy xxxx #SundaysStars (sorry it has taken me so long to comment).
    Mrs H recently posted…Changing our house with a loft or basement conversionMy Profile

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  33. Morgan Prince

    Oh Maddy, what a post! LP is about to take the SATS and I can tell he’s been thinking about it and trying harder in school. They’ve been telling us that he needs to improve but, giving the teachers credit, they are saying that he’s not doing ‘bad’ just because he doesn’t hit those targets. It’s because the government has moved the goal posts, again. Over the past few years they’ve been moved a few times, I saw it when BP had to do his SATS too!
    Well done for writing this post Maddy, you articulated it very well!!
    Thanks so much for linking up to #PoCoLo (and sorry it took so long for me to get around to commenting!)
    Morgan Prince recently posted…My Weight Loss JourneyMy Profile

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    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Morgan – yes, the moving of the goalposts makes the whole thing even more ridiculous! I’ve seen a change even in the two years since my eldest did the SATs. Hope LP is ok and we’d love you to join in with #THISislearning on 3rd May, regardless of whether you join the strike – it’s all about the positive learning messages! xx
      Maddy recently posted…#THISislearning – join us!My Profile

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