Times change. Plastic, once the best thing since sliced bread, now vilified as we hang our heads in shame to see the monster we have created. Smoking was once deemed as having health benefits and drink driving not something to worry about. We thankfully moved on from thinking nothing of smacking a child and as was recently stated by Jill Wood, the brave headteacher who refused to enter her children for SATs, we ‘no longer send children up chimneys’.
When we know things need to change, we have a moral duty to do something about it, don’t we?’
Let Kids Be Kids started as a small group of parents who wanted change. We listened to our children and to their teachers, who told us how disillusioned they had become with their jobs and the system; we started campaigning for change. We quickly learned that we are definitely not alone.
High stakes testing in primary schools is widely recognised as being something that needs to change. We have been contacted by countless parents terrified by the situation in which they find their children, in many cases refusing school or actually ill with worry. We have received so many stories of a hugely narrowed curriculum and children taught completely to the test. We have heard of children pushed into attending daily and holiday revision sessions, ridiculous amounts of exam preparation homework and of schools advising parents that children must attend tests even if they are ill and require a first aider to be present!
It’s not just parents that we hear from. We hear from teachers and headteachers sick with worry themselves from the pressure and their concern that this is affecting the children in their care. We hear of their fear that children are being harmed due to the pressures placed upon them. We also hear the words ‘immoral’ and ‘abuse’ used to describe the pressure placed upon children by inappropriate testing.
We also hear where the pressure comes from; we hear of forced academisation, league tables, performance related pay, data targets and performance management. This pressure is placed on schools by the government and ends up on the shoulders of our very young children.
The DfE will tell you that this is all necessary to improve standards but we hear from secondary schools that they face a system where children arrive in Year 7 with a label, based on a diet of information force fed them for an exam, information that is not relevant to a secondary curriculum and that is not retained.
The SATs are pointless and damaging.
We began as a group of 5 concerned parents, we now represent over 30,000 parents via social media and are part of More Than A Score, a coalition of concerned people: academics, parents, teachers, and experts in children’s mental health and well-being. All of us saying the same thing - that the current situation is wrong and that the time for change is now.
Bad things happen when good people do nothing. We started a campaign to change the way we educate our children but we can not make change happen on our own.
Some parents will withdraw their children from SATs in May; so far over 5000 template letters have been downloaded by parents considering this action. Some parents have de-registered their children to homeschool such is their disillusionment with the system.
Other parents feel less able to fight the system themselves and await the action of the professionals they trust to look after their children, hoping that the moral duty of care comes before the need for accountability data.
The education system needs to change - will you be part of making that change happen?