I hate, detest, despise and loathe SATs. Strong words I know.
Waste of time, effort, resources. Makes our children stressed, unhappy and wastes valuable curriculum time.
A survey of 1,200 teachers by the Key, a national school support service, found that four in five (81%) primary school leaders who were surveyed said they were more worried about their pupils’ mental health during assessment periods now than they had been two years ago.
Good grief. What are we doing to our children? And for what purpose?
7 Reasons Why I Think SATs Are Ridiculous
#1 Who cares?
Uk is compared to other countries with better exam results. So what? If you don’t agree with the measure what does it matter if you come 1st or 100th? What does it matter if our children are no good at rote learning but are amazing at inventing? Is there an exam for that? Hell, no! So I don’t care if we are 20th. Take a look at the table below. Would you like your child to be educated in a system which requires “drill and practice” ?
Is this how our great modern entrepreneurs and inventors made an impact? No! They are free thinkers with space to be creative. Yes we need to teach our children the basics but really do we need automatons? Our current educational system was designed to educate workers for the Industrial Revolution of the Victorian Age? But what are the skills are our children going to need? Jobs they will be doing haven’t even been invented yet. So why are we wasting precious time cramming for skills that won’t be needed. Handwriting! When was the last time you were concerned about your loops and tails?
#2 We know the outcome before we start
After all the drilling, rote learning, stressing, booster groups, more booster groups the children’s scores are almost identical to the teacher assessments. So why bother? I agree we need National Curriculum but most schools now teach ‘Creative Curriculum’. This means that in a World War II project our children will re-enact an air raid in the school basement, interview a local resident who remembers being evacuated, then will write a poem based on these experiences and the results are beautiful. This is meaningful. SATs meanwhile present dry, bland, uninspiring, unrelatable questions and our children are bored beyond tears practising them over and over. The outcome is children are hugely turned off learning.
#3 SATs are not equal
A middle-class school will always do better than an inner city school because, another wonderful thing about SATs, is that schools are compared to one another. Children with tutors, or parents who drill their children in the components of a SATs test, will obviously do better. So, is it a fair test?
#4 Creativity is stifled
With the amount of time spent on SATs obviously something has to give. And guess what that is? Art, drama, construction, design and technology. History, geography, science and RE are all rushed. Our Y2 children spend so much time on phonics (because yes they will be assessed) that the class teacher does not have enough time to read them a story!
#5 Emotional health suffers
In a time when we are more concerned about our children’s emotional health, why oh why do we need to start piling on the pressure at such a young age? Life is stressful enough when we are adults. If we have strong enough emotional resilience we will get through. But our children haven’t developed such coping mechanisms at 6 years old. And the result will be little children who are too worried about knowing their 7 times table. Again let me reiterate that I’m not suggesting we don’t teach these skills. Of course our children need to know basic skills. My point is do we need to test them…
#6 What on earth are the standards anyway?
The goal posts have been moved. We are now teaching to a new curriculum that has skipped an academic year by the SATs fairy. So now Y2 should know what last year’s Y3s knew. Y6 are being presented with material that previously would have only be covered in Secondary School. So how ridiculous. The new curriculum expects too much of our children.
#7 Do we really need to know this?
Most normal adults have no idea what the SATs are asking our 6 and 10 year olds to do! Have a look below:
How are your modal verbs, expanded noun phrases or relative clauses? Wouldn’t you just think the best thing to do would be to create a wonderful environment to encourage fabulous writing? Mmmm…
#7 We are setting up our special children to fail
And so I come to my biggest and most hateful part of SATs. Our special children. A child with a learning difficulty will be hugely disadvantaged by SATs. Yes you may argue that she or he will always be faced with exams and if they want to get to university they need exams. Well my answer is.. nonsense. University is not for everyone and anyway there are alternative routes to university which are non exam based. We need skilled workers in other fields that do not require exams. Yet we set many of our children up to fail, feel rubbish and have low self-esteem from a very early age. 1 in 10 of our children will suffer from a mental health issue – is the route to low self-esteem bought about by feelings of worthlessness in the classroom?
And my conclusion.
Yes we need to teach our children the basics. We want them to compete on the world stage. Everyone needs the basic academic skills to get through everyday life. My son found school very challenging and struggled with academia. But now as an adult he is able to work out money, read a timetable, search on the internet, google information and write an email. He absolutely gained no benefit whatsoever from going through the SATs trials and tribulations.
We need to nurture creativity, independent thought and free thinkers. We need to value our inventors as much as our academics. Value our boxers (well done Anthony Joshua) as much as our doctors. Our dancers, gardeners, hairdressers, artists as much as our lawyers.
We do not need to test our children to know what we already know.
Let our children be children.
IT’S EXTREMELY TOUGH BEING A PARENT OF A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. ALTHOUGH WE COPE MOST OF THE TIME, SOME OF THE TIME WE REALLY JUST NEED A HUG AND SUPPORT.
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