Mps have expressed concern that such tests are hijacking creativity in primary schools, forcing a need to focus on the technical aspects of writing such as spelling, punctuation and grammar at the expense of fostering inventive composition. They suggest such testing should be non-statutory at key stage 2. They were also keen to emphasise the exclusive nature of such testing, arguing that there were few entry points for pupils with special educational needs.
Fortunately , it now looks likely that’s Sats for seven years will scrapped and replaced with teacher assessment of four and five-year-olds to “reduce the burden” of assessments on teachers and pupils. Even so, the existence of these tests, current and historical, does highlight the fact that we are vulnerable to the vagaries and whims of those in charge of our educational system.
The question is, are we forced to buy into this system or do we have a choice?
A Department for Education spokesman iterated to MPs that it will look into their report, but the wheels of government grind slowly and in the meantime there is a generation of children being affected. Not all children fit into the model of Sat testing and for some parents it comes down to a choice of their child’s health or their academic future. In an interview with a group of mothers from Birmingham, they noted that at times the tests felt more important for the teachers than the pupils and the stress of extra work and teacher expectation left their children frequently upset and anxious.
The Chinese model of education, learning to test, is a Darwinian dead end. This is something they themselves have increasingly woken up to, which is why our universities are inundated with eager Mandarin speaking students. Learning by rote is to teach recall and emulation. This is a path that leads back to itself. To strive for invention, to create something new, to truly contribute requires thinking outside of standardised frameworks. This is where all evolution occurs. To allow this mindless tinkering of our educational system by whoever who happens to have the conch is a foolhardy enterprise. It stultifies and impoverishes our children, particularly the vulnerable ones, and is made all the more unpalatable by that fact that if we do not embrace it, we run the risk of leaving them at a disadvantage. So in the absence of my theoretical golden parachute, we have to be brave for them and trust that they will find their way.