Sup­port for de­ci­sion to scrap Sats at seven

The Guardian - - JOURNAL -

I welcome Jus­tine Green­ing’s de­ci­sion to abol­ish com­pul­sory ex­am­i­na­tions at the end of key stage 2 (Green­ing scraps com­pul­sory tests at age seven, 15 Septem­ber). While Sats mea­sure aca­demic abil­ity, they do not take into ac­count the fact that chil­dren’s brains de­velop at vary­ing rates. Fur­ther­more, the fo­cus of pri­mary school should be on build­ing re­la­tion­ships and form­ing a love of learn­ing. With that in place, pupils will be bet­ter equipped for the rigours of se­condary ed­u­ca­tion than they would had they been coached ex­ces­sively for ex­ams.

Sats, for all their ben­e­fits, have gap­ing flaws. Pupils and teach­ers are put un­der un­jus­ti­fi­able pres­sure to meet their grade tar­gets, which sadly of­ten comes at the ex­pense of teach­ing a broad and en­joy­able syl­labus. How­ever, that is not to say progress should not be tracked dur­ing pri­mary years. The cor­rect set­ting of stu­dents in year 7 aids learn­ing through en­abling teach­ers to ad­dress gaps in un­der­stand­ing and, in the case of the more able, to chal­lenge pupils to de­velop their skills with the in­ten­tion of reach­ing their po­ten­tial in the new, more ro­bust, GCSEs. A con­sul­ta­tion at the end of key stage 2 be­tween par­ents and teach­ers would be a cred­i­ble al­ter­na­tive, ul­ti­mately serv­ing ev­ery­one bet­ter. James Smith (Teacher of English), Liver­pool • Tri­cia Bracher’s pre­scient piece on the cri­sis in teach­ing (With this tick­box fetish, no won­der we’re los­ing teach­ers, 13 Septem­ber) nails a key is­sue: the void be­tween schools and those who gov­ern them. Teach­ing needs to be hard work is their view. Teach­ing is hard work. Good teach­ing should be hard work as long as it is teach­ing and not end­less tick­boxes, writ­ten plan­ning and ac­com­mo­dat­ing cur­ricu­lum changes. Lack of ad­e­quate fund­ing and a re­fusal to ac­cept that pro­fes­sion­als need to be treated as such will con­tinue the sorry saga that of­ten passes for ed­u­ca­tion to­day. Tony Roberts Pre­ston, Lan­cashire • As ev­ery grand­par­ent knows, four-year-olds are no­to­ri­ously and glo­ri­ously mer­cu­rial and un­pre­dictable. With these qual­i­ties they will un­doubt­edly sab­o­tage ef­forts to es­tab­lish a re­li­able and valid base­line test and with it the gov­ern­ment’s vain at­tempt to “mea­sure” progress from age four to 11. Pro­fes­sor Colin Richards (For­mer HM in­spec­tor of schools), Spark Bridge, Cum­bria

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