If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The opposite to STANDARD.........

I have had many interesting conversations this week about SATs and GCSE's. Child 3 is currently sitting mock SAT exams, she is 9 and in year 4, she will not actually sit her SATs until 2017 and child 1 has just started her GCSEs. Both girls are coping with the exam pressures really well, just the occasional meltdown, the odd slamming door and a few tears.

It's conversations with the parents that has highlighted to me how pressurised some of our children can become. One mum asked me how my child 3 was coping, as her daughter had been collapsing in to tears every afternoon after school saying that she had failed and would be moved down. This little girl is in primary school, surely the sitting of mock SATs is just to prepare them for how exams work. I am sure that the results will be studied, after all Ofsted look at how children perform year on year now, pupils are expected to to make progress through two national curriculum levels between the end of KS1 and the end of KS2, so for example if you child achieved a 2A at KS1 they should achieve 4A at KS2. Child 3's SATs will indicate to her teacher if she is on track to achieve her expected progress or if additional support is required to help her during the interim. This will I am sure be fed back to me via parents evening or school reports. I hope that she is doing as well as expected but not all children learn in the same way and sometimes they just plateau.

As a parent I cannot change the education system, I could home school but do not believe that would be an ideal solution for my children and definitely not for myself. Of course voting during an election means that at least I can vote for a party that I believe have the best interests of my child at the heart of their education manifesto but there is, as the 7th May showed no guarantee that will mean the party I voted for would win.

So, what to do? Child 1 has a plan for her future, she wants to travel, work with children and tread the theatre boards. Her next step is to study Drama, Dance, History of Art and English of Literature at A level to do this she needs 5 GCSEs, maths, English and 3 others, as her love is drama and dance she will no doubt achieve the grades required. She doesn't need A* grades, C grades will ensure her of her place and so my aim is to support her take that place. I want her to just do her best, not to push her to achieve those A* grades that seem to be so sought after in schools today.  Our child 1 has always struggled academically, her strengths lie in the more creative subjects, she has always been streamed in the lower sets and we have not, even when she was achieving top of the class, pushed for an upward move. For her self esteem consistently achieving the top grades in her class was much better than moving up a set and then being middle of the pack or worse bottom of the class.

It seems that our education system is created to fulfil the needs of those academic children aiming for A*, by testing children we are highlighting success and failure - how will children and parents cope with that at 4 years old. Parents can easily be pushed into the adding extra support by using Kumon and tutors, feeling that they are letting their children down if they don't. Especially if teachers are pushing for academic success measured by standardised tests, these tests are how their performance is measured and managed so that is where teachers focus will lie. But how does that enable our children to be happy, after all if you asked the majority of parents what they wanted for their children, I don't believe that their answer would be "to be academically brilliant" I think that most like me want their children to be happy, well rounded, have friends and a partner and to be independent. Obviously passing exams can  help to find a job and working means financial independence, everything else is about who they are not what they have achieved by completing a standardised test.

Perhaps the clue is in the wording standardised - to cause (something)to conform to a standard. To make consistent, make uniform, to make comparable.

In truth I don't want a standardised child, I want an exceptional, unconventional, extraordinary, unorthodox and different child! Don't you??

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