Last year, our little boy was 6 years old, and in Year 2. Nobody told him he was doing SATs, but he knew something was up – here’s the account of what was happening then: SATs: this is what they’re doing to our 6-year-old.
When I shared that post, the most surprising reaction to what I’d written was a feeling that a great deal of the “stress” is down to the way the schools administer the tests, and the pressure that parents apply at home. There were several people who were happy to report to me that their children had sailed through their Year 2 and Year 6 SATs, barely aware that anything was different from normal – which is great, of course.
However, the unhappy symptoms of SATs (or lack of them) wasn’t really my point. My question was why anyone thinks putting Year 2 children through a week of formal testing is the right thing to do, whether the children know what’s happening or not – and how the weeks of preparing for the tests, the actual testing, and the stacks of marking afterwards can possibly be the best use of Year 2 teachers’ time.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse than this, but it has.
Changes were announced to the school testing system, and I was delighted to learn that there are plans to make Year 2 SATs “optional” for schools in 2023 (whatever that means). Bu sadly I was astounded to find out that they plan to test 4 year olds instead, on arrival in Reception year. This is as ridiculous as it is horrifying. The idea of setting little children a series of tasks, and then labelling their performance as High or Low Ability, is just abhorrent – as if starting school wasn’t hard enough. In the words of my friend, Amy: “Testing 4 year olds…? What on Earth do they hope to achieve with that?! (Have they actually met any 4 year olds?)”.
There is a vocal movement to stop this horrible idea, driven by the belief that children should be learning about the brand new world of school, and focussing on making friends – not being formally assessed. More about it here, where you can also join thousands of teachers, head teachers and parents who have already signed the government petition: https://www.morethanascore.org.uk/
In a world where schools are driven by performance, and not what children really need, we also hear this morning that break times are being squeezed to a fraction of what they were 25 years ago, to cram in more lesson time (read more here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48203595). The vital social education of children is being pushed out, because of the pressure on everyone to perform.
Of course it’s important that we understand how schools are doing, to make sure every child is given the education they deserve. But there must be a better way than this.