Tomorrow, Year 6 children will be sitting formal SATS, 4 days of literacy and numeracy tests. My daughter will be among them and having experienced this school year with her, I am against this formal testing. My daughter is bright and talented in many areas, will the SATS measure this, no, but they will tell me if she can use the past progressive tense correctly, recognise a subordinating conjunction, calculate, do algebra and that really useful skill, use Roman numerals correctly ( As a parent I’ve used Google a lot this year for homework.) These aren’t the academic skills I want to know that my child can do, I want to know that she can read and understand, have a good range of vocabulary and do key sums and reasoning to help develop the numeracy skills we need in life. How much of this year’s work will be ‘forgotten’ over the next few years as its been rote taught for tests and not for skills. This year we should also be developing social and emotional skills to ensure the wellbeing of our children.
I feel the creative spark has gone this year, I like a little project for homework, yet every week its just been pages and pages of online practice. On Bank Holiday Monday, when I was out with the children at the park, a message pinged through on DoJo (another pet hate) with a message congratulating those currently working online and the number of sums completed by the class on the day on a particular app. It was a bank holiday and there was pressure to log on, it seemed so wrong. How are we going to develop a love and interest for learning when we are boring our children with the content of the curriculum, we need a curriculum for our digital world, with practical activities and investigations, not formal testing.
Whilst the focus has been on the SATS at the school, with lots of homework, parent workshops, catch up clubs etc.. The staff are trying to be positive and supportive in these last few days, the children all received the letter above and have all been encouraged to relax and rest this weekend and do something fun. Little Man has been on cub camp this weekend, so Little Miss has had quality time with us, meeting up with her grandparents and enjoying a beach walk and ice cream this afternoon. There are also great school plans for next week with special breakfast clubs, treats etc.. during the week.
When the results are published, I won’t be sharing my child’s results with others (despite some school mums’ ‘interest’) I’ve always felt strongly about this as I have an academically able child and one with significant learning needs, I don’t want either to be judged on academic performance, they are both so much more than a number or grade. I also know that the results have very little use in the future, yes secondary schools receive them but ours do their own testing for the subjects where there are ability groupings in the first half term of Year 7. It does ask the question of why do we do SATS?
I can only hope that after this year’s heavy academic focus, in these final weeks of primary school, the formal curriculum is put aside and the children can spend their time being creative, sporty and arty, cherishing the last few weeks of primary school before the grand adventure of secondary school.