Let me tell you about two children and their friends

Jim and Mary are both in Year Six at their school. They are friends and they have mutual friends amongst their classmates, There is Veejay who came from India when he was seven years old with no English and no tradition of learning in his family. There is Carmen who came from Hungary two years ago with no English. There is James who’s mum works all the hours she can to provide for him and his brother and baby sister. Oh yes, I nearly forgot Abdi from Somalia, who, having seen some horrndous things, came to this country via a refugee camp in Kenya where he learned to survive by stealing and using a knife. That was three years ago and he only had a smattering of English learned in the camp.

Apart from all being in the same class and being friends, these children only have one other thing in common. In  a few days time they will have to sit their SATs! They will have to be measured by undergoing tests devised for eleven year old children.

Let us look more closely at this situation. Jim, Lucky Jim, celebrates his birthday on September 2nd each year and is the oldest child in the class, he was born in 1997. His parents are both  professional people who have shared the care of their two children by juggling their working hours and taking time out from their careers. There are books everywhere in the house. Neither of Veejay’s parents speaks English and Veejay has to accompany them to various offices and the like to act as translator. Neither parent can read their own language. In the light of this it doesn’t matter about books in the house it would seem. Carmen is a bit luckier as her mum learned English at school and has been able to help her a bit with her work but Carmen has only been learning English for two years and research show that it takes a minimum of five years for non English speakers to gain enought skill to be able to cope with the level of vocabulary needed to access learning fully. Jonas has no books and has to spend a lot of his time caring for his younger siblings.

Abdi? Abdi is a severely traumatised young person. He has managed to learn to speak English fluentlyand would spend his whole day immersed in books if he were allowed, does he want to learn or is he hiding from his bad experiences?

Who have I missed? Mary. Mary, the daughter of an out of work dad and a mum who has just lost her job at Woolworth’s and  who sits in class beavering away in spite of her difficulties with reading and writing. Writing hurts,. It physically hurts. Mary’s birthday is in August and she can’t wait to be eleven like Jim. If Mary had been born a few days later, instead of on August 30th 1998, she would be in Year Five.

All these children will have to sit their Year Six SATs in a few days time and the government EXPECT them to achieve Level Four in all three subjects. They might be lucky enought to have a reader for Maths and Science but just look at the disparity between Jim’s age and Mary’s..and if it were Mary that were the older then the difference might well effectively be greater… given the gender differences between them developmentally. Look at the others…

SATs are iniquitous and should be scrapped. No wonder the head teachers are going to ballot to boycot them.

A boycott could well be illegal/unlawful so might I suggest an alternative? Perhaps the parents of the pupils should run a boycott of their own?


8 Responses to “Boycott?”

  1. Grannymar Says:

    I feel their pain!

  2. magpie11 Says:

    Not so much their pain as the un-even playing field… when I was ten and a half and took the 11+ exam….. all those examples are real except that names have been changed….. Jim is, in essence, a whole year older than Mary….. This is the 21st century and we cannot use our knowledge of children and how they learn to best effect… I fume!

  3. Annb Says:

    Is this as a result of bureaucracy gone mad and the kids serving the system – rather than the system serving the kids? It must be so frustrating for you. Hope you all get the support you need to oppose the system. The kids are lucky to have you to speak up for them.

  4. Magpie11 Says:

    Hi Ann……pleased to meet you….

    I suppose it’s the result of “everyone being an expert in education because they’ve all been through it”!

    Ostensibly it’s to help prove education in England (now the devolved countries have opted out)…it serves New Labour because they can say..”Education is improving just look at the figures”…and they can also beat up teachers …. “You haven’t reached your targets. Your school is failing. Special measures for you!”..and that in spite of the fact that there is o such thing as a “standard child”.
    My examples were chosen to show the stupidity of the system….inflexible as it is.

  5. Annb Says:

    Another classic example of how the system looses sight of those who needs it is supposed to serve. Good luck with your boycott call – hope good sense prevails.

  6. Magpie11 Says:

    Interestingly there was a parent organisation leader saying exactly the same thing on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

  7. rummuser Says:

    Magpie, I wish I could convey to you the angst that I feel. I think that we have exchanged some views on education and this situation epitomises everything evil about our systems, be they in the UK, USA or India. Bureaucrats and Politicians do not seem to apply their mind on this very important issue.

    I wonder if a boycott is the answer however. Won’t the children suffer?

  8. magpie11 Says:

    I think not…ultimately the government has to be made aware of the effects of this on the children. Our youngest was a member of the first Cohort to be tested at 7 years, 11years and 14years of age.His secondary school then decided to experiment even further on his group by bringing in separate teching for boys and girls in maths…a disaster for the boys who had to suffer even more of the yob behaviour.

    Breaking news as i type: The government have confirmed that they will abandon the Science SATS tests from next year. The committee that recommended this also recommend abandoning the Maths and English Sats.
    Downside? They will still want the children to be measured but by teacher assessment. Of course they will have their own ideas as to how teachers should do this. I mean to say, I have only been doing this for 37+ years. I have been working with a group from a class four mornings a week since January. I know exactly what each child is capable of in Maths and English in the group and for most of the rest of the class….

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