Friday, 10 July 2015

Stop the Pressure!

I can't believe that Ruby has just finished year one at school, and is now half way through key stage one! It seems like only days ago that she was just about to start school. I know Ruby is very much looking forward to the summer holidays and I am too, we have so much planned and I know we are going to have lots of fun together.

I recently came across an article about the amount of pressure that school and exams are having on children, and it's something that I can really relate to. Before ruby started school I was very anxious about the move from playschool; in an ideal world I would have loved the opportunity to part time home school her, but I was confident in my own ability to teach Ruby.

Over the last couple of weeks Ruby has taken part in the phonics screening test that all children in year one must take. The test itself was supposed to come with no pressure, but by its very nature, it is a test! There is a pass mark, and if your child does not reach the desired level, they are classed as underachieving!

What this test doesn't take into account is that there is a massive age between the children who take this test; Ruby is six at the end of July, and many of her classmates are almost seven. In the first few years of schooling, a few months can make a massive difference. I believe that the phonics screening test should be done at a set age. for example five years and four months; this way as parents and teachers we know how well a child is performing relative to the rest of the class at the same age. 

After Ruby's phonics screening test, she came home upset and told me she had failed! - a child should never be made to feel like a failure!!!

She said she had scored thirty out of forty with the pass mark being thirty two. I explained to Ruby that it didn't matter how well she had done as long as she had tried her very best, and that I was still proud of her and loved her very much. To see Ruby upset was heartbreaking for me as a parent! It really doesn't matter too much if she doesn't excel at one particular subject, as I know there are other areas that she is better at for example drama and imaginative play.

I feel very sad for children growing up in our society at the moment, as so much pressure is put upon them at such a young age. I really wish this pressure would stop! It seems unlikely though, as more and more organisations are applying more and more pressure to children, in fact I can see things spiraling and getting worse. As adults we are all different and each of us have our own different strengths and abilities, it wouldn't be right for us all to be the same; if we were, we could end up with too many doctors, not enough nurses or administration staff. As parents and adults we need to celebrate difference and diversity much more.

Edited: Just add, I have received Ruby's school report and it says that she passed her phonetics testing with a score of thirty five! I chatted to Ruby about her results and reiterated how proud I was her and that I loved her regardless of her score. Ruby then added that she thinks the teacher, when telling her the mark, must have said the number five very quietly so she couldn't hear it!


  1. Yes far too much pressure and different children deal with it inmany ways. My boy has just finished year 6 and his sats and luckily he loves exams and the pressure that go with them. One of my twins is dyslexic and she failed her phonics test and we have constant conversations about how proud I am of the efforts she makes. It is so much harder for her than her brother and sister. I hope you have a wonderful summer, Mich x

  2. There is too much pressure and I certainly don't give 2 hoots about sats and phonics tests. I won't be allowing my son to do practice papers for homework etc.