Sunday, 5 October 2014

Exam factory schools...let's throw a test at it!

Whichever government is in power, the story is always the same…LET’S THROW A TEST AT IT!

The powers that be ALWAYS evade the real problem. They have done for years and years.

If as much energy was put into ‘how to teach the basics’ FROM THE START, then things would be a whole lot different in our education system.

I saw a child this week who can’t read very well, can’t write very well and can’t spell.  I gave up my own time because her mum is so worried about her and quite rightly so. An eleven year old who is struggling…and why? I’ll tell you why. It’s all to do with the phrase ‘caught not taught’.  She has ‘caught’ certain things and hasn’t been 'taught'…simple as that.  That’s because too much emphasis is put upon testing what they know…which is the most stupid thing, if you think about it…if they haven’t been taught it then how the heck can they be tested? Children like her only ‘catch’ part of what they should know…and it is all to do with good teaching…or lack of it. Children like her will be entering secondary school, next year and then what happens then? It’s not easy teaching an eleven year old to read when she has only got a reading age of 7 or 8 ; finding the appropriate books and materials is a big problem and I wonder how many schools have the right resources, let alone plenty of them.

I see it all the time:  huge classes (this doesn’t help matters); too many schools, where reading IS NOT a priority (OF COURSE IT SHOULD BE!); too many schools, where books are not sent home (I have more books in my study than many schools own!) ; too many schools, where children are lucky if they read once a week to a teacher, if that! (DISGRACEFUL!); too many schools where a spelling programme is non existent (HOW THE HECK ARE CHILDREN MEANT TO LEARN?); too many schools where handwriting isn’t taught properly…my goodness, the children I see are not even shown to sit PROPERLY at a table, let alone hold their pencil CORRECTLY. Good practice…it’s non-existent, in some places.

I’m not saying that all schools are like this and, yes, there are some excellent schools and many superb teachers out there… but there are also many classrooms where good practice is, very sadly, lacking.

And what the heck does an Education Secretary know about teaching the basics?!
Nothing. Whether he/she is Conservative or Labour or from the flaming moon…(well they might as well be! ) They know nothing. So….what do they do?

They chuck a test at it, convinced that it will do the trick and raise standards!!
It’s not good, it’s not clever and it’s very, very worrying indeed. Children shouldn’t be meeting exams until GCSE level. Any other tests undertaken in the primary school, should be reading and spelling assessments, which take up little time, in order to identify problems.

The worst thing is that all of this is not rocket science; the remedy would be a simple one, if only someone would adopt some common sense and consult people who really do know. Until that time, we will never achieve our ‘rounded and grounded’ education system…whichever party is in govt!


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