Tuesday’s SATs boycott is looming and I’ve been tormented into how I feel about using our children and local schools to make a point to the government. But this is what I do know.
1. Nearly all the protesters I’ve spoken to and the official Let Kids Be Kids group are completely supportive of their local class and head teachers.
2. Pulling their children out of school is to make a statement about the exams to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. It’s a last resort action to a government who repeatedly fail to listen to parents, teachers and education experts about SATs. This is not a decision taken lightly by any parent and whatever decision parents make on Tuesday, we should be supporting one another, we all have the same goals.
3. Many parents can’t afford to take their children out of school on Tuesday (me included) but will be sending in a letter of support to school but protest to the government.
4. Both my children are finding school hard at the moment and they are children who perform well and have a good attitude to learning. We are faced with regular meltdowns and fatigue after school. This is due to the education standards being raised at least one whole year in achievement. Therefore my summer born, 4-year-old is expected to achieve what my eldest was learning in Year 1. Perhaps Nicky Morgan would like to come to our house and see the look in their tired eyes.
5. My 4-year-old was being set homework from spring term. We refused to do it only to be faced with a very stressed, apologetic class teacher (who is just about awesome in every way at her job) asking us politely to send it in. She needs it handed in.
6. Faced with choosing who will pay the consequences of boycotting SATs or homework at 4 years old, as much as I adore the teaching staff at our school, I will choose my children’s welfare.
7. But I will be lead by my children. If they respond well to the teaching, then I’ll let them get the most out of it. But I won’t be sitting a 4 and 7-year-old down and forcing them to learn things just to pass a test. My eldest came home yesterday and chatted all about the ‘booklet’ she sounded positive and seemed to find it fun. But I felt sick. She’s a guinea pig, a human barometer measuring the school’s performance. A 7-year old child. But I listened and encouraged her and said I was glad she liked it.
8. Throughout my experience working for and with blue chip companies, I saw that the ‘good on paper’ people are more often than not the ones you don’t really need on your team. The cost of their extreme academic childhood is their emotional intelligence, their empathy and understanding of relationships and what makes people tick. It is a big mistake that creative subjects have been dialled down on the curriculum because these are the disciplines which lead to invention, innovation and entrepreneurship.
If you are boycotting school on Tuesday join other Brighton parents at Preston Park Clocktower 9.30 – 10.30am for a rally. Brighton and Hove education department’s official line is they will be fining. But our understanding is the head teacher makes the call on issuing fines but all schools will mark it as ‘unauthorised absence’.
For those parents who feel strongly about these issues but can’t boycott school on Tuesday, there is a letter ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ have devised to sign and give to your school.