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10 Scary Facts about School

  1. Under proposed new assessment guidance for tests for 11 year olds, if your child scores 5 out of 6 for their ability to change nouns to adjectives by adding prefixes/suffixes, they’ll end up with a grand score of 0. For more on this, read this article from the Cambridge Primary Review.
  2. If your child does SATS tests in the next year and beyond, they are expected to be writing, reading and doing maths at a level previously expected of a child at least a year older. The “expected” level has risen dramatically. If they fall short, they will have to resit in Year 7.
  3. The baseline tests given to your child when they are 4 will be used to predict their outcomes aged 16 – a trajectory that completely ignores that children develop at different rates or that in reception class some children are almost a year older than others. Teachers and schools will be judged against this benchmark. Very few children progress in a nice, neat line.
  4. The skills and knowledge in the grammar tests for 11 year olds are more advanced than those expected of GCSE.
  5. If your child sits GCSEs or A Levels, you need to know that these exams are not consistent from year to year. In addition to the tinkering of grades (moving away from A*-G and towards 1-9) and content, there are anomalies in the marking. Last year saw the greatest number of requests for remarks ever, but the most successful requests were those that came in early. If your child needs a remark, get the application in as fast as you can. In addition, there are anomalies and discrepancies in the ways that the results are decided upon. It’s possible for your child to get a higher mark than someone who took the test last year, and yet still get a lower grade because boundaries are set to make it look like the results are roughly the same every year.┬áRead this for more information.
  6. Over the next four years, an extra 300,000 children will need a place at secondary school due to rising population. Yet 59% of secondary schools are oversubscribed now. This shortage of places is being exacerbated by the teacher shortage. More teachers left the country to work abroad last year than applied to become teachers. Almost 50% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years of qualifying. If you want a teacher in front of your child, things need to change.
  7. 50% of jobs secured by graduates didn’t require a degree.
  8. Most of the apprenticeships created by government go to over 25s – and many of those are already employed by the companies who rebrand them as apprentices so they can pay them less.
  9. School budgets have been hit so hard by cuts that many are now asking parents for donations in the form of monthly direct debits or one off contributions. This is a growing problem and a challenge to the idea that education is free at the point of access. See this report in Schools Week.
  10. The public’s interest in education is at an all time low. This creates a situation in which changes can be made without protest. For education to change, parents need to take charge. Teachers will always be dismissed as moaners. Parents are considered to be voters. Whatever our political persuasion, we need to demand research led, rigorous policies that are in the best interests of children, not businesses and politicians.

What can we do? Arm ourselves with knowledge. Ask questions when we go into school. Ask questions of our politicians. And ultimately, if we worry about the integrity of tests, we should exercise our parental rights and boycott them.

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