I’ve raised the issue of testing before as parents are worried about the impact of continual testing on our children. But when the teachers begin to suspect that there’s too much stress for children to handle it makes it all the more worrying.
In this article in the Guardian the ‘Secret Teacher’ raises the issue many of us are beginning to suspect. That children are so pressured it has detrimental influence on, not only their performance, but on their health too. Yet teachers are expected to maintain this pressure to ensure good test outcomes, sometimes overrating the importance of these good scores to the kids. And this is happening to children at earlier and earlier ages.
I say overrating the importance because that is a point. Children are put through endless tests and assessments and drilled into thinking that GCSEs and A level results are going to be the only way forward to a productive and successful life. Often coerced into taking more and more of them without being told there are successful alternatives, as home educated youngsters are proving.
My worry is, where will it all end? How much more pressure are we going to put on young people before we call enough is enough? And who are these results all for?
Are they for the kids? Interesting that many home educated kids go forward into productive lives, some via Uni, without ever having been exposed to this kind of stress, some without having done any kind of test until they decided for themselves what exams were relevant to them and going for them.
Are they for the teachers to help them assess children? Funny, but I heard from a head teacher recently that all the scores and assessments which were passed on with the child to the next level of their education were hardly ever used. Teachers are far too busy teaching for the next set of tests anyway. And as the Secret Teacher says in the article, teachers need to cover their backs and in some cases are having to sacrifice the development of individuals to do so.
Are they for the parents? Parents are conned by the same story as the kids; that without these results they’ll amount to nothing. Totally untrue as many home educated children are now beginning to prove.
Are they for the schools? Well schools do always have their eyes on League tables and they are big business now. I have heard tales of kids being ‘encouraged’ to do subjects and exams that they weren’t interested in for the sake of the schools’ league tables rather than the individual’s development.
Are they for the politics? Definitely. Politicians want continual assessment of our kids and results to flaunt and build statistics with, so they can suggest to parents that they’ve been successful. In this political game our children are little more than pawns.
But what is successful? Statistics are engineered to produce the results wanted anyway – we all know that. But increasing numbers of children with mental health issues couldn’t be classed as successful. Increasing numbers of children disillusioned with education because they’ve been lied to, as the Secret Teacher suggests, are not a success.
And increasing numbers of parents and teachers turning to home schooling would point to the fact that they don’t think the test heavy climate of school is successful either.
As the Secret Teacher points out, we need to rethink our priorities. And it is up to parents to start questioning and maybe demand an end to the plague of test obsession, before it becomes a plague of mental health issues among our youngsters.