A two-year review of primary education by Cambridge University has discovered that starting school at age 4 is not helping British children. Even though they don’t start school until age 7, children in Sweden and Finland outperform Brits by age 11. In other words, British children are learning less in seven years than Scandinavians in four years.
This is also despite being tested more than in other countries. Everyone recognises that emphasis on testing is way out of whack. Everyone except, of course, the Government. As a spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said, “The idea that children are over tested is not a view that the Government accepts. The reality is that children spend a very small percentage of their time in school being tested.” I mean, technically, the DCSF spokesman is correct. The tests themselves take very little time.
But as the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said, “When it comes to testing in England, the tail wags the dog. It is patently absurd that even the structure and content of education is shaped by the demands of the tests.”
Or as the DCSF spokesman said, “Seeing that children leave school up to the right standard in the basics is the highest priority of government.” The Government sets “the right standard”, which is a particular test score. Therefore the priority of the Government is that children achieve a certain score. The only way for children to achieve this score is to stop teaching them how to read and write and instead teach them how to take the test.
Schools that assume that teachers should teach lose. Schools that keeps kids mentally goose stepping toward achieving test results win.
The more government gets involved in education, the worse it gets. The results get manipulated to show the government and its policies are making progress. Thus, what was already a flawed means of assessment becomes fraudulent product of the need for political spin.
The only problem is that children at the real losers. They get the damaging stress of the examination environment together with a (when compared to the rest of the world) substandard education.