Testing Times

Article written by Mogg Hercules - featured in Absolutely Education, November 2017 

Is teaching to the tests, in Mathematics and English, especially since the National Curriculum was established, then modified, fulfilling a truly rich curriculum for our children, or are they just part of the performance measures and league table publications?

Focus on the performance of a school, could well run the risk of short-changing our children’s learning opportunities, by overlooking a diversity of experiences, at a deeper and more challenging level.

At what age do parents decide to place their children on the conveyor belt, to what they perceive to be academic success?  Where do they source the information about a good education?  Is it from league table results, Ofsted reports, publicity, a friend’s recommendation, or school visits?

How many parents decide to look for a school setting where they are happy to leave their child with the adults who will educate them in stimulating, diverse experiences, care for and about them, extend and support them, but does not feature in the league tables?

Education is about more than outcomes.  It is also about safeguarding the well-being, including the mental health of all our children, especially when excessive preparation for tests and interviews, often when children are quite young, lead to anxiety and the pressure to succeed, in a highly competitive process of selection.

The case for change is clear, but is a ‘well-being’ table, to tackle mental health issues in schools, the answer?

Pressure to succeed at school continues to affect many children, especially when priority is given to academic outcomes.

Self-harming is traditionally seen as a teenage issue, but there are increasing numbers of incidents in Primary Schools which, of course, can be caused by a number of different factors.  Early intervention by parents and teachers must be a priority.  Not only should schools have policies for Ofsted in place, but also have staff who recognise, understand, are educated about mental health and can effectively put those policies into practice.  Surely, within a well thought out and well-planned curriculum, there should be opportunities for discussions about self-esteem and the value of self-worth.

Bearing in mind the escalation, in recent years, of children self-harming, we could, of course, look at the correlation between aptitude and expectation.  Change is inevitable, for the well-being of all our children. So, shall we start by getting rid of performance measures and league tables?