How does anybody feel about more primary tests?(50 Posts)
Is the education minister Liz Truss correct when she says that the slip in maths and science is linked to the removal of compulsory tests for 11 year olds? Higher up in the article it says that the science test is for 10 year olds. So I can't quite see how testing at age 11 would fix it.
I'm not sure what the qualificationalists (if there could be such a word) would like. There are so many different sciences one couldn't reasonably expect a teacher to have a firm grounding in them all. And then there are so many other subjects. I'd prefer a primary teacher to have some reliable teaching materials and a good book to teach from than to be an expert in seismology or marine biology. I can buy a wall chart from WH Smiths and borrow some great books from the library without knowing a thing about how the tectonic plates were formed or precisely when they were formed, (or even from what.)
The science education I had in primary was very limited and almost rubbish in comparison to what DC learn now. I was in a G+T programme, btw, in a school abroad in the 1970s.
What sort of things did you British people learn in British school primary science in the 1970s-90s? It must have been fantastic to be so much better than what kids are taught now.
You can buy those things LearnandSay, because you presumably have the time, cash and inclination to do so. I'm more concerned about the children being taught the sort of crap I moated up thread who don't have parental resources at their disposal. You don't have to be a science graduate to know that the sun isn't the biggest star in the universe, just have a quite basic level of scientific understanding.
And I go into lots of schools, so my examples - of which there are many more - are not isolated. If you are saying that teachers only need a broad, baseline level of knowledge because they can read up on stuff, and always stay one step ahead of the kids, then I would argue that the ones I refer to clearly hadn't done that.
Everybody can go to the library. OK, maybe not everybody can afford the poster. And yes, maybe some parents don't care. But doesn't that take us back to the age old point that the children with involved parents have a headstart? I'm pretty sure all children get taught some dreadful rubbish about something at some point. Just as lots of parents have misleading explanations for things, (you were brought by the stork.) I don't know how many children actually grow up believing that babies are brought by storks. Maybe somebody else does know. Personally I believe that reading, discussion, analysing and questioning are all supposed to help us separate the crap from the truth. I don't see why we shouldn't start separating these things before we're four. (My youngest already doesn't believe me when I tell her that she's had enough yoghurt for one day!)
So, just to clear, are you saying that it is OK if teachers have a low standard of scientific understanding because children can check out the facts at the library, and that separating crap from truth is a useful skill?
I think the quality of science education in primary schools is far better than in the 80s when I was at primary school. My son's school has excellent science teaching. There is nothing with his present teacher's subject knowledge.
Actually I do not see that teaching science in primary schools is a priority. The most important thing is that a child gets a high standard of literacy and maths.
The only reason for teaching science in primary schools is to make the curriculum more interesting. Science at primary school is a great way of practicing reading comprehension, writing and maths skills.
It is important though that teachers do not sow misconceptions.
It's funny actually, I suppose it can be deduced from what I've said that that's what I think. Part of the problem is that I have very firm views that primary education is about reading, writing and rithmatic. I see history, science and whatever else one might have as nice extras. I also have strong views that parents should be firmly in the mix taking their children to the library, to museums, to places of interest (I'm not too sure about art galleries, but I wouldn't necessarily rule them out.) This might necessitate that all children have a certain type of parent. (I don't know.) But it's what I believe. And I think a child with that sort of an involved parent won't grow up thinking frozen water is heavier than water at room temperature, the earth is flat and whatever other nonsense we've had posted by way of example.
Your point that the library is free to all parents is technically correct, learnandsay, but even leaving aside the presumption that many of the parents we're concerned about either can't be bothered or are socially unused to the idea of using libraries, it's also true that in many rural areas a trip to a library is also prohibited by means of lack of transport. Another poster recently quoted figures of bus fares of over ten pounds to get to her nearest library. There are villages near us with no bus services and even those with libraries are tiny with about a hundred non fiction books or fewer. So on balance I think it would be preferable if children were at least only taught correct science facts, however we can make that happen!!
We must be doing something right as we were asked to advise our regional Science Learning Centre and we have been awarded the Primary Science Quality Mark.
That's pretty terrific, mrz. Don't suppose your school would be thinking about opening up a virtual wing on mumsnet, would it? (Well, I suppose with you here it already has.)
I don't think my school is all that different from 100s of other primaries around the country.
I had my first Science lesson in secondary school - apart from a little nature study, none of my 1970s / early 1980s primaries taught any kind of science at all.
The problem seems to be that you cannot have primary teachers who are highly qualified in all subjects - especially given the small number of A-level subjects any person can do. That is the 'issue' with primary teachers being generalists. As no individual teacher can already hold e.g. A-levels in all the subjects that they teach (and therefore whenever the spotlight falls on a partcular subject everyone can ALWAYS express horror at the level of qualification the average teacher holds in that subject).
As it happens, I have very high qualifications in science (PhD from a venerable university) BUT I didn't continue English, History, Geography, French, RE etc past O-level, and I have no formal qualification at all in PE or Art or anything other than an instrumental Grade 6 in music....yet I teach them all. Perversely, perhaps, it took me longer to become a good science TEACHER than it did to become good at teaching English or History - having greater subject knowledgs does not always make for better teaching.
I think the
sane thing to do is to have generalist primary teachers (in the sense that they teach literacy and numeracy) and actual subject specialists trained to work with primary school children. It's madness unrealistic to think that anyone can be great at everything. Of course, it would help the DfE would stop making ever more part of the primary teaching remit...
Ds1's science teaching markedly improved when he transferred to a middle school where the science lessons were taught by science teachers trained to teach KS2 and 3 (who rotate with other teachers in the high school). The core areas of primary teaching, which is where many primary teachers are most comfortable (and many are very talented in indeed), were covered by generalist primary teachers. But they got to hand over things like science and languages to a specialist. The system has the added advantage that the kids already know several teachers at the high school and it doesn't seem so strange. (It's two schools in the sense that they are on different sites and ofsteded separately, but the same HT oversees both and they have the same uniform and rules).
Actually we had two teachers with science degrees working in my school a few years ago and their science teaching was shocking
I would add my son learnt far more science in his primary school than he did in his secondary
Is this the same son who is an autodidact? (I'm aware of the fact that you disagree with this label.)
And did he do any science A levels?
He hasn't taken A levels learnandsay
Is it fair to say then, that he had previously learned more about science in primary school than he had up until this point in secondary school, but, because he hasn't finished secondary school yet it's not yet certain which school will have taught him more about science?
He has finished secondary school but he didn't take his A levels due to attempting suicide learnandsay
Oh, crikey! God, I'm sorry to hear that. Hope he finds a way back to contentment. You've had a tough journey, mrz. Glad you're here.
Thanks for you kind thoughts at the moment he is relatively happy
I have just read your post. You help so many others and have been through so much yourself.
I do hope your son will be ok, sending you hugs.
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