TV news has been giving a lot of prominence to the issue of SATS and the fact that some parents are electing to withdraw their children from school to avoid being tested. In my view this is a clear demonstration of Lack of Moral Fibre. I have no experience of bringing up children so have to rely on my own experience in school and what it did for me. I was a “swot”. I enjoyed learning. I was good at end-of-term exams, usually coming top of the class while a little lower down the scale in classwork. I was also lucky because my parents beggared themselves to send me to a small, independent school where I sat in a class of 20 or less and enjoyed the company of children from similar homes. Oh dear, is that heretical?
Children will grow into a world where they are continually tested. If they enjoy any sport, they will face the prospect of winning or losing in football, cricket or whatever else they enjoy. When they leave school, they will face the test of getting into university and the quality of the university to which they can aspire. There is a world of difference between a Russell Group University and a bog-standard polytechnic-as-was. Also a difference between a good and hard-earned degree and one that is practically given away for social science or media studies.
Then, our young people will face the challenge of getting into the world of work and the sort of testing that will involve. A different sort of testing will apply to their social life including making friends and finding a partner in life.
In my view, the sooner a child gets used to the competition that will face then through life, the better. Some simple and regular school testing has to be a part of this process. This is why I think parents who withdraw their little darlings from a day of testing at school show a dreadful lack of moral fibre and a subservience to the education establishment who fear testing for an entirely different reason.
I have no doubt that we have far too many people teaching children in our schools without the basic skills in the three Rs of Reading, wRiting and ‘Rithmetic. They are the product of trendy teaching methods and reduced standards in schools and universities over the last 20 years. Too many teachers cannot spell, cannot add, subtract, multiply and divide in their heads, cannot write grammatical sentences or explain their logic and are too wedded to the politics of equality while rejecting the value of elitism.
I am fascinated to see our LMF parents who withdraw their children from the SATS tests demanding that their children are allowed “to be kids” while the education establishment insists on describing school children as “students”. While this may be a fair description for those studying A levels, I think it is pathetic to call primary school children “students”. They are children on the early paths of learning; they need to gain a love of learning and an acceptance of being tested. This enables parents both to assess the progress their children are making and also helps to assess the quality of teaching provided by the school and its staff. Here we face yet another test between an established educational establishment (Michael Gove called them “The Blob”) and the wish of most parents for their children to thrive, get good jobs and do well in life.
Shielding children from competition will not prepare them for the challenges of life today. Get real, parents and find some moral fibre.