I was reading here about Ofsted chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw’s recommendations that external testing be reintroduced for seven and 14 year olds. He says that testing is the best way to ensure that our children are getting a good education and making appropriate progress.
I don’t agree. I think that testing puts unnecessary pressure on children, and that not all children perform particularly well in tests. Surely this means that the results are not an accurate reflection of progress, more of which children test well? In fact the tests themselves, and preparation time will actually take time away from learning.
Teachers will feel pressured to ‘coach’ their pupils so that they ‘achieve’ as underachievement will be considered a reflection on their teaching. The time and energy taken up by these tests will further drain teachers resources which are already overstretched with current levels of paperwork.
The testing at seven would be in order to monitor progress in English and Maths but this report argues that actually formal education shouldn’t even be beginning until age six. In fact in the vast majority of Europe children don’t even start school until they are six. Being concerned about a child’s progress in Maths and English at seven seems a bit premature to me.
I think that if the government is genuinely interested in improving education then reducing class sizes would achieve far more than introducing testing. Reading about class sizes of 31 or more in this article I am horrified. I’ve sat in a classroom with 30 children in it and witnessed how hard crowd management of that number of children is, let alone teaching them. It must be nearly impossible to take into account individual children’s educational needs, and provide appropriate learning for them, in a class of that size. So much of the school day seems to be taken up with practicality, getting them all sat down, to assembly, into their coats for break time, I can’t imagine much learning time is left. I plan on supporting my children’s education at home and adding in some teaching time during our home life, because that way I know they aren’t being missed in the crowd.
Teachers should be supported with smaller class sizes and less paperwork so that they can focus their energies on our children. Putting them under added pressure and encouraging them to teach in a way which gets the desired test results, teaching to ‘test’ seems counterproductive, unfair and frankly ridiculous.