Am I the only parent confused by all the arguments from union members, teachers, experts and the government regarding the Sats, exams and report cards?
The unions plan to boycott the Sats stating that teachers are forced to teach to the tests. I’ve heard similar arguments in the US, so I find it “old”. Yet, when the government announced that it was scrapping the science part, the unions state this will make the curriculum more narrow. Explain, please. So, if they scrap English and Maths as well, will it make the curriculum practically null?
Some have complained that the exams have been “dumbed down”. Now, that is a trend that no parent likes to hear. It seems that the more changes that have been instituted in schools, the more the schools have deteriorated. In response, the tests have adapted to the changes. I don’t believe that the curriculum is geared towards the exams. It appears the exams are “dumbed down” because of the curriculum. There are claims that today’s students would not pass exams from bygone years. If so, it does mean we are not teaching the right stuff to our kids.
Is it because we have introduced other subjects that have taken precedence? Such as, ICT. Information and technology is important for today’s world, but it should not replace fundamental educational instruction. Most kids today have computers at home, or have access to them somewhere. It is not difficult for them to learn ICT without it being a major part of the school curriculum. Believe me, my kids were able to navigate on the web before entering school. It is important to use technology in school, but it should not be a primary subject as it is today.
What about the idea of teacher assessments for performance in science? If exams have been dumbed down, can I trust my children’s teachers to adequately assess their performance? There have been complaints that our children take too many exams. On the whole, there does appear to be a peculiar emphasis on exams here in the UK. But I am not seeing that that exists in the primary school setting. At least, there does not seem to be an emphasis on them in the schools. Even when there is, I do not see grades. My children have homework, projects and some basic English and maths tests. But they only get check-marks and stars. Having been through a system of letter grades, it is hard for me to gauge their performance. So, how will the teachers assess it?
What about report cards? We have report cards in the US as a means for assessing students’ individual performances. Students are given grades in each subject, based on performance on homework, projects and exams throughout the term. (Because of this, they do not have end of school exams. However, they do have Sats-like exams in specific years, used as a measure of the school’s performance. It does not affect the child’s progression from year to year, and many times, they are not even aware of the results.) The report card does not report on students’ well-being as the BBC report stated. It does report on their behaviour. Perhaps, they take that to be a report on their well-being, but really, is it a tool to warn parents when their children do not fall in line. But the UK wants report cards on schools, not students.
Who will do them? Ofsted does not want to do it because they feel that whoever prepares such reports will be under government control, and they wish to remain independent. I’m not sure I’d want Ofsted to do it anyways. I’ve learned that their independent reports on schools were not a reliable source for determining a school’s academic performance. After all, their concern is students’ welfare and as long as all students are happy, I don’t believe they delve too much into the academic part. I think there needs to be a balance between being happy and doing well academically. The government needs to explore the details of this plan before saying they want school report cards. I reserved judgment on the report cards. It might be useful for parents, but until I see what is being reported and how, I cannot say.
With all these reports about changes to the educational system, it makes me wonder what happened to education in the UK? Across the Atlantic, we saw it as a shining example of where we’d have liked to be. Though it may still be better than the US (I have no way of really assessing that), it does not appear to be stellar. What happened to the old way of teaching and learning? Surely, the UK did not have these serious issues in those bygone years.