As featured in Parentdish

Monday, 7 March 2011

Weighing pigs

Weighing a pig doesn’t make it fatter’ is, I have been told, a teacher’s saying, and what a great saying it is. It refers to the obsession with assessment of children. Sorry did I write obsession. I really meant the ‘act of’. Honestly.

Politicians are preoccupied with assessing children, so much so that English schools in particular have been accused of teaching to test. If it’s not in the exam they’re not interested in teaching it.

I listened to four MSPs on Thursday night – one education secretary and four hopefuls. Three of them were very keen for more assessment in primary schools.

Under the 5 to 14 curriculum we had national assessments in Scotland but I have spoken to teachers who told me that they didn’t need assessments to see how a child was doing. They knew anyway.

The politicians’ argument is that parents want to know how their children are getting on. But this can be done without branding them and putting them under pressure. What’s wrong with a good, honest talk at parents’ evening?

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