Let Our Kids Be Kids

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My two school-age BUBs enjoy school. They skip there and they skip back. They go to a great school where they get taken on fantastic school trips, have regular dance and sport sessions, visits from exotic animals, musicians, people with disabilities talking about the clever ways they adapt. There was a temporary planetarium in their school hall a few terms ago. They are the luckiest children in the world in terms of being safe and cared for by their wonderful teachers in a great environment.

I’m taking my children out of this fantastic school on Tuesday 3rd May as part of the Let Our Kids be Kids campaign, in protest against the externally imposed Key Stage 1 SATs and the government’s decision to turn all schools into academies.

I can’t sit back and watch as their enthusiasm and curiosity is stifled by a curriculum that puts emphasis on advanced (for a six or seven year old? In parts, for me, a degree-educated journalist) arithmetic, grammar and comprehension. Every week the homework is tedious preparation for these tests and saps the life force out of my August-born six-year-old who is expected to sit a week of tests in May. Since he started Year 2, he has expressed increasing frustration with the work load, the focus on eyes-down, learning by numbers.

None of this is the teachers’ fault. The teachers are wonderful.

At the start of Year 2 I used to pass my six-year-old’s classroom window on the way back from dropping my four-year-old into his classroom. Immediately, as soon as their coats were hung up, they were sitting down on the carpet with their pens, trying to complete the sums displayed on the board at the front. Hunched over, doing mental arithmetic, when moments before we’d been jumping over pine cones and talking about what’s for lunch. I realise the morning is the best time to get these little minds working, but before everyone has even had a chance to sit down? No song, no welcome, no chance to say hello to everybody first? The teachers must feel there is no time, that there is so much to get through.

BUB.1 is struggling to keep up, probably because he is the youngest but maybe also because he’s quite easily distracted, but in the most part he shrugs it off. He’s fascinated by birds, engines, dinosaurs, skeletons, the Ice Age and he’s kind. His school report tells of a lack of concentration. BUB.2 already worries when he can’t get thing right or doesn’t know the answer. He is fascinated by animals, football, and he’s hilariously funny. His school report tells of a lack of confidence.

I’m doing this for both of them. I’m doing it because this open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is exactly how I feel.

I have no idea what BUB.3 will be like yet. But I know that I don’t want her to be squeezed through a learning sausage factory and to be told in her school report that at four years old she is anything other than herself.

Since following the campaign and talking to people about it, I have heard about children crying before school, feigning stomach ache, undressing themselves before they leave the house, because they don’t want to go. This is disastrous for them and for their families.

I don’t put any pressure on my child about SATs testing.  The school has emailed us example test papers for all the subjects. I’ve printed them off, looked at them and filed them under “Let’s not worry about that”. I, along with most of the parents I speak to, ignore the emails that show us what a child’s handwriting is supposed to look like at this age. My son’s looks like he sneezed out a decomposing spider. He tries hard.

The data is for the Government. It has no bearing on my son.  The other day I broached the subject of the May tests with BUB.1 and he started talking animatedly about the Easter bunny. Relief flooded me.

I don’t care about these tests. I just want them to stop so the teachers can focus on being teachers with the freedom to teach in an inspirational and child-friendly way and the kids can be kids and continue to love learning about things that matter at seven and eleven years old.

If you feel the same, there are things you can do to help the campaign:

Sign the official petition https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/122183
Like the Facebook page: Let our Kids be Kids

And, if you can, join us in taking our children out of school on 3rd May to show our support for teachers and our rejection of externally imposed SAT exams. If you can’t, please share the campaign and show your support.

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

  12 comments for “Let Our Kids Be Kids

  1. June 5, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I agree with everything you say here and I actually have a post going live tomorrow about it. It is a real concern for me and I worry that the pressure of teaching to the test is making the classrooms to pressurised and not conducive to good, quality learning. We need to let our children be children and these tests are crazy! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    • Lisa
      June 5, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      Oh great, I’ll look out for that and have a read! 🙂 xx

  2. June 9, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    I have a similar post about the 11+ as my daughter is itching to take it and told me by not letting her take it I may as well be telling her she is stupid. This is what these tests are doing to our kids #kcacols

  3. June 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    This is such a concern for me for the future. Ailsa is only 15m but I do worry about her future eductaion. I understand there needs to be some structure to the curriculum but why can’t we just let our children be children. Learning can be fun. So many of my mummy friends are looking to home school when their children are of age and even though it isn’t for me I can completely see why they are looking down that path.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    Azaria- Being Mrs Lynch

    • Lisa
      June 12, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Thank you so much for reading. There is lots to worry about but lots of awareness so I am hopeful that things will change. Home schooling isn’t for me either and in the most part my two LOVE school but it’s just a shame they have to get bogged down in all this when they are only really still our big babies!! xx

  4. June 10, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Good for you. Entirely agree. My parents were both teachers/in education & have never agreed with KS1 SATs & don’t agree with academies. My kids aren’t school age yet, and I am really concerned about what this government will have done to the education system by the time they are. So much evidence from around the world shows that children perform better the later they start formal education & testing, not the earlier. & I don’t even know where to start with academies (never mind the awful free schools). #KCACOLS

    • Lisa
      June 12, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      I know, it’s all just awful. But increasing awareness, parent power and a lot of gusto might change things hopefully! We must stay positive. My kids love school on the whole, it’s not all doom and gloom and the good far outweighs the bad, but the curriculum is ridiculous in year 2!! Thanks for reading!

  5. June 11, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Wow this is so interesting. I’ve seen this campaign around in twitter but didn’t realise what is was until now. You are right, we should do something about it because we don’t want our kids to miss the opportunity to enjoy learning. I’m lucky to have my eldest daughter in a small private school that do care a lot about the kids so they are not focused in lots of homework and silly exams. My daughter’s birthday is in May so she is one of the last one of her class and I can see a big difference comparing her with the rest of her class. The school knows that she will be slower because of this factor but they are very understanding of this situation and help her to keep her on track with the rest of the class. At this time of the year (almost the end of the school year) I can see lots of progress and it is just because of this approach. She loves her school and she is always happy and excited every morning to go to school which says a lot to me. I think all schools should be like that. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS, 🙂 xx

    • Lisa
      June 12, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Thank you and yes, I think that is the crux of the matter, treating each child as an individual and teaching them based on what will best help them achieve their potential. Each child is different. You are very lucky. Our school is excellent and my two school-age kids have a blast there and are supported well, but the teachers are bound by the curriculum. I hope things will change! xx

  6. Amy
    June 18, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!

    • Lisa
      June 22, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 x

  7. August 27, 2016 at 3:08 am

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a good article but what can I say I procrastinate a whole lot and don’t manage to
    get nearly anything done.

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