Why do we do it?
I was involved in a very thought-provoking conversation on Twitter recently. The other participants were a primary teacher and someone just starting their third year at University to become a teacher. The primary teacher had just started a new job – nothing unusual in that. However, the new job was in a new country. They had moved from Scotland to England. The student was also based in Scotland and asked how the new job was going.
The reply indicated that it was proving quite hard. The differences were obviously going to be acute at the beginning of such a move. The teacher had been a prominent member of their previous school and was now having to learn to build their place in a new team with different expectations. However, the most striking difference for this teacher was the emphasis on testing!
Remember that the school year has just begun. We are not building up to SATs or exams of any sort. The children have yet to produce any quantity of work. The teacher is not in a ‘SATs Year Group’ (not year 2 or 6) and yet the major difference when asked between the countries was our obsession on testing!
I have only taught in an English school and I suppose you get used to the pressure of being results driven especially if you work in a school with many challenges to progress. I am passionate about children reaching their full potential and understand that you need to assess progress to achieve this. Nevertheless, I felt really sad that our education system had been judged in this way so early on in someone’s career. I felt quite naïve that I had been lulled into thinking testing was a necessary evil but that it was only part of the job! Clearly, for some teachers it IS the job!
Why is it that here in England we think that weighing the pig enough times will make it bigger? Where has this idea come from? How come the other parts of the United Kingdom do it differently?