"How My Life Became One Long, Sad Sats Test"; in This Emotional Indictment of Our Education System, the Respected Writer and Teacher Francis Gilbert Explains How an Obsession with Testing Has Broken Children's Enthusiasm for Learning
Gilbert, Francis, New Statesman (1996)
The decision by the Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, to kill off the Sats exams for 14-year-olds is arguably the most momentous decision taken by a politician since Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. Dramatic as it may sound, I believe the scrapping of these wretched exams will have far greater long-term repercussions than the bailing out of the banks.
As a middle-aged teacher who has taught for nearly two decades in state schools, I have had my life transformed. For 16 years, I have been penned up in sweaty classrooms drilling bored teenagers through the pointless complexities of the English Sats papers. I have watched some pupils bow their heads and scribble dutifully over them, while others turn them into paper aeroplanes. I have gone home every day worrying about how I might improve my results in this year's test. In my most depressed moments, my life itself has felt like one long, sad Sats test.
When the Education Act of 1988 introduced the concept of Standard Attainment Tests--Sats, also known as Key Stage tests--I, as a young teacher, cheered. In common with most of my colleagues, I support the notion of testing our children in a regular and organised way. In theory, Sats appeared eminently sensible: Key Stage 1 and 2 tests would assess seven-and 11-year-olds mainly in reading, writing and arithmetic, while Key Stage 3 tests would have equal components of testing in English, maths and science. Children would be assigned levels from 1-7, which were standardised across the whole age range, and therefore parents, pupils and teacher could see clearly whether students were progressing at the expected rate: if a pupil did not move up at least one or two levels between each stage then alarm bells would ring.
In practice, however, these tests have proved to be …
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Publication information: Article title: "How My Life Became One Long, Sad Sats Test"; in This Emotional Indictment of Our Education System, the Respected Writer and Teacher Francis Gilbert Explains How an Obsession with Testing Has Broken Children's Enthusiasm for Learning. Contributors: Gilbert, Francis - Author. Magazine title: New Statesman (1996). Volume: 137. Issue: 4924 Publication date: November 24, 2008. Page number: 36+. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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