Last week we carried out a couple of practice SATs assessments in our school in order to give the children a chance to get used to the process, protocols and procedures of those oh so very important tests they would be taking on in the coming weeks. As we prepared to start the time, I looked out across the hall filled with those 10-11 year olds. Every single pair of eyes was transfixed on me or one of the other two adults at the front of the sea of students. I could not help but think…”Why are these children being forced to sit in such stringent conditions?”
There were many of those eyes that looked nervous. What have they got to be nervous about? The answer, for me, is clear. There is an undoubted amount of pressure on these children. Pressure from themselves because they honestly want to do the best that they can. Pressure from their parents to reach their potential. Pressure from the teacher to achieve their best because they do care for the child’s future and because they want to be seen as having made an impact. Pressure from the school to achieve results which show they are a ‘good’ school…and so on.
Is there not another way? I’m sure many others had deliberated about ways to get an accurate, national snapshot of children’s attainment. I’m sure those others felt as uncomfortable as I did when I looked out over that collection of nervous faces…
And yet we are set for another 5 years of a Conservative Government. What will this mean for assessment? With discussions over resits in Year 7 for those children who fall behind and previous discussions on Times Table Assessments and a Year 2 SPAG Test to name a couple, it does not sound like the assessment culture will be easing up any time soon. The question now is – what do we as educators do to work with the situation? How can we motivate the children we teach to in the face of looming formal assessments? It must be possible – what are your thoughts? As a Year 6 NQT Teacher, any advice is very welcome!