A momentary lapse of education
Alarm bells began ringing earlier in the year. We went to a school meeting one cold evening, roughly a couple of hundred parents and children in the hall, during which we were warned.
The coming weeks of our child’s education would be…different.
The reason? It was the run-up to the SATs.
Rewind a few years.
While my kids were still in the early years of their education, I remember reading horror stories, of schools bringing relentless pressure and onerous workloads to bear on year 6 children (ten and eleven year olds) in an attempt to squeeze every last atom of perfomance out of them in the Key Stage 2 SAT exams.
Back then it seemed ages away. Now it is upon us, or rather upon Wunderkind, and it is the educational equivalent of a foie gras farm.
Fast forward to that meeting.
In the run up to SATs week, we were told, some lessons (useless, namby pamby ones such as music and art) would be substituted with extra maths and English. Some children may be offered extra tuition after school, because there really are not enough hours in the day. There may be an increase in homework for the same reason.
Suffice to say, Her Up North and myself were apprehensive at this ramping up of the work ethic.
Key Stage 2 SATs are a controversial issue with parents, teachers and educationalists alike. The results of these external exams are made public, and as is the trend with anything measurable, are arranged into league tables. The result is schools concentrate efforts on the tested subjects to eke out a few extra points and push borderline pupils over the arbitrary finish line.
In my view that is to the detriment of curricular diversity and enrichment. It’s like, for a few weeks, there is a lapse of education.
Instead it is a rote of past papers and teaching to the test.
Wunderkind takes it all in his stride, but even for him there was a final straw.
On the last day of term, at the start of the Easter holidays, the russet-topped one came home with three English homework assignments, a maths past paper and some further maths set online. No time to complete it before the holidays. Had to be finished for first day of new term with a threat of detention for non-completion.
On my advice the homework went back incomplete. I wrote a brief note explaining in my view my child deserved a holiday, that it was my decision and that therefore any punishment given to the titian one would be unfair. So far there has been no comeback.
All this makes me seethe. The lessons, the homework, the guidance in the school newsletter for Y6 children to do one hour of online revision PER DAY during the Easter holidays!!
This isn’t education.
It’s hot housing and is of no benefit to the children either now or in the future.
Have you been through this situation with your children? What are your views on SATs and the culture of teaching to the test? Are we merely preparing our children for a tested future, or are we devaluing learning?