Rescue Our Schools co-founder, Madeleine Holt, spoke alongside children’s author Michael Rosen at an event yesterday for NUT members in Lambeth in South London. The subject – Tired of Testing? – was a chance for speakers and teachers to tell their stories of how too much testing is exhausting and depressing children and young people, parents and teachers.
Michael Rosen shared stories of the sterile homework his children have to endure in their schools. Madeleine spoke of the absurdity of ‘baseline” testing of four year olds, with the results then used to set “flightpaths” to SATS in Year 6 – which in turn set predictions for GCSES.
As for the government’s alleged commitment to social mobility, research has shown that disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in baseline testing, and then risk being set on “lower ability” tables from four onwards. Elaine Bennett spoke powerfully about the open letter she organised on behalf of Keep Early Years Unique. It called for Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report on formalising the Reception year to be withdrawn. It now has nearly 3,000 signatories, among them the child development expert, Lord Robert Winston.
The conclusion of the NUT event? The whole system is becoming increasingly shocking, and needs to change for the sake of our children’s and our teachers’ sanity. More than a Score, the coalition of which Rescue Our Schools is a member, is planning a campaign focused on mental health later this year.