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Testing for primary pupils at 5 and ranking at 11 - what do you think?

(233 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Jul-13 10:26:40

The Deputy PM Nick Clegg has today unveiled a set of proposals around testing for primary school children.

Under the proposals, pupils aged 11 - who are already tested under the SATs - will be divided by their results into "ability bands" of 10%, and that information will be shared with parents, so that they can see how their children rank nationally.

Clegg also announced that he'll be launching a consultation on whether or not to bring in a "baseline" test at the start of the Reception year in order to establish where children are, and whether they need additional support.

However, teachers' unions have already raised objections to the proposals, with the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, Russell Hobby, saying that "The vast majority of teachers are unhappy with the need to rank students."

What do you reckon? Does more testing - and more grading around the results - benefit children (and schools)? Or do we risk a return to the days of labelling children as successes and failures before they've hit their teens?

Sencho Tue 07-Jan-14 10:05:54

I'm a primary school teacher of 15 years. It breaks my heart to think that I am going to have to label children even more than we already do. Guaranteed that parents will stand on the playground at 9:05 with the letter in their hand feeling either gutted that their child is told they are in the bottom 10%, or awkward because their child is ranked at the top. This WILL NOT raise standards, it is just yet another measure based on political motives (ie we are a good government because we inform parents about their child's education) which will result in arguing, sadness and hysterical children. I'm no even going to mention it to parents unless I really have to - talk about killing the motivation for children. Politicians have no idea how children learn, develop or grow. It is simply about votes at the polling booth and brainwashing people outside of education, who through no fault of their own, do not really understand how learning works, into voting for them. I've had inspectors observe me over the years who literally have no idea what they are talking about. They should be listening to the people in the ground, the teachers, not us listening to them. I used to be terrified of inspectors - now I stand my corner and speak up. They are going to ruin education in the U.K.

paddythepooch Thu 09-Jan-14 18:49:53

Rank and yank is growing in prevalence across employers. Ghastly and totally destroys commitment and trust.

This talk of ranking our children at 11 is pointless and sinister. To what end?

sats are bad enough. Do we really want to have all the joy of learning and being creative stamped out of our future generations by labelling half as below average? I've counted four people on this thread who are in favour. Let's flex our collective muscles and get mnhq to do a poll. They'll listen to that!

KatnipEvergreen Wed 29-Jan-14 18:22:24

I hate the idea of ranking. What's wrong with being told they are at level 3/4/5/6 whatever? Everyone knows they're exceptional at level 6 and below average at level 3 from private discussions at parents evening. What the bloody hell does it matter what their peers are doing? What are they going to do, feed the bottom 5% to the lions? You can see how well the school has done from the school results.

KatnipEvergreen Wed 29-Jan-14 18:23:42

Rank and yank is growing in prevalence across employers. Ghastly and totally destroys commitment and trust.

I agree it's appalling. Happening in the civil service. Someone could be brilliant at their job and still at the bottom, because by definition someone has to be at the bottom. These people don't understand basic maths.

KatnipEvergreen Wed 29-Jan-14 18:24:32

First thing I would do as an MP would be to ban that as an unscrupulous employment practice.

mrz Sat 01-Feb-14 07:28:21

LoveMyKidsLoads Mon 03-Feb-14 18:10:54

Roll on the election I say...

rollonthesummer Mon 03-Feb-14 18:15:11

Who to vote for though?!

PottyLottie123 Tue 18-Feb-14 23:37:40

Good assessment should be used to inform planning of teaching and learning and to inform parents. It also should measure progress, but measure each child's individual progress, not rank them against one another. I can't believe that I've heard said and seen written the term "re-sit" applied to 5 year-olds who didn't "make the grade" in their phonics test. Does this not ring alarm bells for teachers? Back in the day when I was at school as a pupil and dinosaurs roamed the earth (I taught for 17 years before having children and am an "older mum"!) re-sits were what you did at 16 or 18 if you failed your 'O' or 'A' levels.................what are we doing to the youngest children at our primary schools and when do teachers have time to teach anything???? My DD's Y6 teacher reassured me that they will be teaching them how to do the tests from now 'til the SATs papers in May. She didn't want to have to do that, but that's the pressure they are under and the Head agrees with it. Fun and teaching over at school for my DD until mid May! Standards are not rising, despite mountains of statistics and testing.
You can squeeze a lemon until the pips pop out, but you don't get any more juice........................rant over.

Mashabell Wed 19-Feb-14 17:06:35

Standards are not rising, despite mountains of statistics and testing.
Indeed. They can't for as long as English spelling remains as it is.

The kids sit the tests, but it's really the schools that are being tested - in the hope that this will make teachers drive the kids harder to improve their reading and writing, and thus overall attainment too. (Nobody can learn much else without learning to read and write first.)

This has been getting worse and worse over the past 30 years, without making the slightest difference. It can't because English spelling remains as rotten as it has been for centuries, and learning to read and write remains as difficult and takes as long as it ever did, and therefore partially or totally defeats as many kids as it has done since time immemorial.

The only way to enable more children to learn to read and write well is to make learning to read and write easier, by making English spelling more sensible. But nearly all adults who have managed to become competent readers and writers, despite the inconsistencies of English spelling, are opposed to this. It's completely insane.

TheGruffalo2 Wed 19-Feb-14 19:08:19


sam1513 Fri 28-Feb-14 21:54:59

totally agree, Im sick of testing and comparing in ks1, ifit's in reception and earlier it will be detrimental to a child's education. The fun, enjoyment of school will be gone. My children are very different, the best thing they've always had is choice. I was told that my child age 4 always wants to do something different or do it a different way to how she's been told to. Is that wrong?? I want my children to play, learn explore, to do things I don't have time for due to work commitment s.
You only get one shot, why spoil it from the start..

Elibean Mon 03-Mar-14 16:31:19

Whoever thought up the whole 'ranking' thing has not got a clue about how to motivate healthy human beings. Honestly. Shocking angry

LindseyLM Tue 04-Mar-14 14:06:29

The history of the 100m. London 2012 all finishers under 10 secs, 20 yrs before 1 man went under 10secs - 10yrs before that the winning time wouldn't have even made 2012 semi's. Why the improvement ? Because the best drive the rest to get better - all sports prove the fact that improvement for all comes by pushing the top upwards so everyone else has to do more just to stay with them.

I'm all for modelling education more along sporting lines because life is fundamentally competitive - those who deny that are living in some Laura Ashley wallpapered cuckoo land. However the key thing about sport and where it differs from this proposal is that you always have the opportunity to challenge the top again - fail this time, then train hard, line up next year and go again. Unfortunately, the govt proposal means once labelled there is little chance of getting out and you cannot have that.

Children need the headroom to be everything they are capable of being. Any restriction or ceiling on their development can not be good and unfortunately they develop at different rates and have different interests. Working with similarly able children is a good thing in many ways, but unfortunately without the room to move, on it's own it will be divisive.

Mashabell Wed 05-Mar-14 07:03:03

I'm all for modelling education more along sporting lines because life is fundamentally competitive
U can make it so, but it does not have to be, and there is plenty of evidence that co-operation achieves far better results.

In the UK testing of pupils has greatly intensified over the past 3 decades and perhaps this has helped to push the top end up a little further. (Evidence from international comparisons suggest that our top pupils do as well or better than those in other countries.)

Sadly, this has done nothing whatsoever to raise overall attainment - no more than improvements in sporting performance at the top have encouraged more people to take up sport, or have helped reduce obesity. We now simply have a wider gap between the best and worst.

The UK's main educational problem remains underperformance at the lower end of the ability range, which is very costly for the individuals concerned and the country as a whole. Competition is totally useless for addressing this. Areas which still have many grammar schools have far worse overall educational attainment than those which are more comprehensive.

Elibean Wed 05-Mar-14 11:16:51

The problem with comparing education to sport is this: yes, the best drive the good to do better - in both, up to a point. But there is a lot of fall out.

Those who are not motivated by competition (and they definitely exist - there are personality types, and society needs to have room for all of them) can find other arenas and avoid sport. But they can't, and shouldn't, avoid education.

It's too narrow a way to look at human beings, society, and education IMO.

Unless 'survival of the fittest' is what you aim for, pure and simple.

LindseyLM Thu 06-Mar-14 09:44:30

Mashabell & Elibean The published results from tests over the last 3 decades went up every single year and we have more people in University than ever before - because of this strange desire for everyone to appear to succeed or not to fail. There was no focus on the top at all - it was all about getting more passes - and the top level has fallen vs international competition. The testing in this country has been very misleading and fairly pointless. Meanwhile the Emerging Markets focus on the top and strive for excellence and because their labour markets are so incredibly competitive and their welfare systems so lacking, everyone else has to try harder.

Your point about Grammar schools is factually incorrect. In fact the only age group where our country scored in the top 24 vs international competition was over 55's when Grammar schools underpinned the education system.

The improvements in sport have meant the average player/athlete is now as good as a very good athlete of 30 yrs ago - and that's progress in anyone's language. However I agree that it doesn't necessarily improve the number of people taking up sports - but improvement and participation are 2 entirely different things.

Whether we like it or not the education system is competitive - you might like to pretend that it's not but it is. Some people might not like competition, even though it is all around us (not just in sport) but it is a fact in education. As a general rule better results = better chances of a better job = competitive. So there will be fall out as there is in every competition - winners & losers - 2 people go for a job and there's a winner and a loser. Unfortunately we don't like to think there will be losers - but there are.

The examples from other countries show that (like sport) a focus on pushing the top will improve overall standards - you just need to look at Asia for proof. Top improves, middle improves and bottom improves.

The underlying concern is what about the people who aren't as capable (and there will always be people less capable in everything we do).
Is it fair to pull back the rest or starve them of the attention they need to be as good as they can be ? No it's not fair on either the individual or the country as a whole.
Is it fair to force a child who isn't a natural athlete to become a runner, or a child without natural co-ordination to become a footballer. No - it's not fair on the child. So why do it with education - why force them to be something they are not. Far better to spend our time finding what they are good at and let them flourish.

katerood Fri 07-Mar-14 21:59:17

I am fed up with the direction education is taking. It isn't working.Testing doesn't work, it only helps them to learn how to pass the tests. SATs are ruining my child's real education, it narrows it right down. England has a bad reputation, is spending more yet gets no better results. The government keeps on doing the same things - it's time for a turn around. It's time us parents made a stance and stop letting them do this, the government doesn't seem to have any plans to change anything for the better. "The UK ranked 32nd according to the percentage of children who report feeling happy at school", at the end of the day you learn better if you're happy. Children have few rights in this country, they aren't listened to. They deserve a happier and healthier school system.

KitKins Thu 13-Mar-14 12:15:59

Atrocious idea. The children know who is in which band and that is exactly where the psychological damage is done.

luvmy3kids Sat 29-Mar-14 20:19:35

I'm not completely against some banding, but not until A levels. it's disgusting at 11.

Some grouping is necessary to help schools to cater to different ability levels, but nothing so regimented

mrz Sun 30-Mar-14 10:57:22

hels71 Sun 30-Mar-14 22:10:21

I despair.............whatever next...............................

housemad Tue 01-Apr-14 11:47:17

I did do with my dd reading, visiting library, nursery rhymes, educational toys and so on as well as looking after their daily diet. Even before I was pregnant I had been preparing for my kids' schooling. However my dd was still just not ready for the formal schooling by the age just 4. She loves learning but not in a restrictive formal environment and constantly being tested and made self conscious about her academic ability to reach all the school termly targets so that her teachers can still keep their jobs. She loves playing with other kids, making things, looking for bugs, drawing, writing and singing.

Babies and children even young animals are boned with great desire to learn from their environment and each other. They don't need to be made to want to learn. May be that is one of the problems with many policy makers. Despite being highly academic but never had the chance to develop any common sense and imagination because all that were killed by the time they themselves were just four or five.

housemad Tue 01-Apr-14 12:03:26

Forgot to say most children enjoy looking at and touching animals, plants, stones, sand, water and many different types of objects. Kids just love experimenting things all around them. I believe formal schooling too early can really destroy their natural instant to learn.

housemad Tue 01-Apr-14 12:53:26

Sorry it s/b "instinct" not "instant"!

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