Jim Knight (Minister for Schools) was very jovial at the meeting I arranged with him for the Head, Deputy and Assistant Heads of Coldfall Primary School. They had been so upset by what the unforgiving, child-hostile testing regime of SATs was doing to children that I had met with them recently on this issue – and this meeting was the result.
Well – was enormously proud of Coldfall’s case to the Minister. Evelyn Davies (Head) made an outstanding case against the over-testing and flawed league tables. She was clear, passionate and extremely knowledgeable and experienced – and measured. Moreover, when Jim Knight responded and referred to testing at Key Stage 3 in secondary schools – saying it found favour – quick as anything Evelyn came back and challenged this – pointing out that she is talking about what is happening to 6 year olds – just not comparable.
Since the debacle over the agency that failed to deliver the SATs results (and was sacked) and the recent union threats to ballot for strike action if SATs aren’t abolished – the Government is not unaware of the unpopularity of this regime.
The Minister laid out what the Government is doing – reviews on the curriculum etc etc. But it was clear that – whatever the replacement regime is – there will be more testing and more measurement. They are even going to measure well-being.
I don’t think this Government really understands that the tick box methods, the overly process-driven, responsibility-removing target-setting environment is the problem – not the solution.
But the case was made – and made well. If I was Jim Knight I would grab Evelyn Davies and put her as his key adviser on education. That way our children would be well educated in every sense of the word!