Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this week, you’ll have noticed that the SATs for 10 and 11 year-olds across the country has made the news. At least, that is, if you’re an educator. If you’re not, and you’ve stumbled across this innocently clicking my links through Facebook or something, I can only apologise for embroiling you in what is a total shambles of a system (it’s too late to turn back now, you have to read on!).
It is, by the way, a total failure and mockery of our education system. And I say that with utter conviction. Testing children isn’t something I’ve ever been a fan of, but I find myself growing more and more cynical each and every time the subject of standardised assessments (tests) is brought up. With good reason too.
Let’s start with the idea of turning all Local Authority (LA) schools into academies. Without going into the whole host of reasons that I don’t think this to be the right step forwards, the link to SATs is interesting. Failing schools are forced to turn into academies. Schools which perform less-favourably in the year 6 SATs are called into question when OFSTED come knocking – almost like a preconceived idea that, because the data has been ‘bad’, the teaching must be terrible. Everyone knows not all children perform well on tests. I’ve been fortunate enough to teach some of the brightest, hard-working, and enthusiastic children who performed above and beyond when in the comfortable classroom environment… and then absolutely flopped in the test due to worry and stress (and I try as much as I can to not pass that on to the children). Though, the curriculum has been made more tricky, the SATs more so, and doesn’t that set children up to fail? Is this just a ploy to force all the remaining Local Authority schools into academies by almost automatically deeming them unsuitable?