News today is that David Cameron has said that he wants to implement children who fail at their Maths and English SATs in Year 6 (ages 10 and 11) should repeat them in Year 7 (up to a further two times). Money is waiting for the Secondary Schools with £500 for every pupil who has failed in Primary Schools. This, thankfully, does not apply to children with Special Educational Needs.
I am all for tests. I like how they can determine who needs additional help – whether that be support or to stretch them further. What I do not agree with is extra pressure and taking away childhood. Already the capable children in Year 2 (ages just 6 and 7) have to take two tests (the normal paper and the higher one). Not sure why that is because at GCSE level they would just take the higher paper. They will spend more time learning for both papers, and obviously less time playing as they spend more time under test conditions.
Let’s move on to the 11 year olds. The children who do not pass their SATs at the desired level – well I always thought that SATs were a measure of the school and not the child – so I do not understand how the “failure” can move on with the child?! Children are already over-anxious and worried about the SATs tests (even the more capable children) so what damage is this going to do to those who do not make the grade. To feel like a failure, an under-achiever. I do not suppose this will do their self-confidence any good. And to have to take the test a further two times if it is not “passed.” Ludicrous! At a time when children are just heading for puberty, having to deal with moving on to “big school” – where lessons are taught differently and they are put with a lot more children. Having to take on so much more – extra subjects, making new friends, and so on.
The SATs in Year 7 can be retaken up to two times in the Spring and Summer terms. Surely this is not only adding pressure on them but meaning there is less time for extra curricula activity. For, goodness forbid, enjoying the sunshine and starting to relax after what must be a really long year for them. Why if they have not passed at the appropriate levels can it not already be determined that they need additional help – why the need for more testing. Do they not already have their CATs tests too?
There is £500 for Secondary schools for every child who has failed in Primary schools. Is this meant to be an incentive for the Secondary Schools to want to take these children? I do not think that £500 is a lot of money. This would most likely coincide with the Pupil Premium scheme too – again not a huge amount of money. No I think that it is too little too late. Put the funding into primary schools to help ensure that the children do not fall behind in the first place.
Thankfully this does not apply to children with Special Educational Needs which brings me much relief that my own son will not have to endure all this testing. But it begs the question that does this mean that the quality of their teaching is not as important – because that is the reasoning behind all of this, that our children deserve good quality teaching.