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back to article Science tests for 11-year-olds to be scrapped

The government has agreed to scrap national science tests for 11-year-olds. However, teaching unions still plan a boycott of the remaining tests in English and Maths, saying that these make primary school teaching "narrow". The teachers also object to the revelation of schools' test results in public league tables. The BBC …

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I can remember these.

Being 17 now I can remember doing these tests in Year 6 of primary school. All we did for the entire year was learn for teh SATs then revise for the SATs. The primary school (and its teachers) were at the time very keen to make out that these tests would affect our future prospects.

At the age of 10 and 11 I was given about 5 hours of homework for these tests every weekend and a bout an hour a night. At that age it is very fustrating to not be able to do what you want to.

I support any action that the NUT take against these tests, since they do narrow what can be taught. Interesting and meaningful aspects of a subject must be bypast to teach a test that has no affect on the child's future.

Thumbs down, because these made me miserable.

Sorry for any spelling mistakes.

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Flame

Talking out of his R's

"Brookes, however, said that the primary objection to the tests was that it meant teachers had to "teach to the test", which meant in practice they taught little else but reading, writing, science and 'rithmetic towards the end of primary school. He suggested that removing science but leaving maths and English would simply mean teachers spending all their time on the "three Rs"."

Exactly what's wrong with focussing on the three R's? They're the foundation for all learning!

I do believe that that Mr Bookes may be talking out of his R's.

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Anonymous Coward

I recall

I recall primary and junior school being all about playtime and story time.

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Stop

Bloody teachers

It's not the taking of the tests they don't like. Kids have always taken tests at these key ages for banding etc. It's only that they are published; it shows them to be fallible. Something no teacher would ever admit.

I've never met a parent (that wasn't also a teacher) that didn't want SATs. I've only ever heard teachers stating that parents don't want it. I've certainly never been questioned on my views by the schools my kids have attended.

What they seem to forget is that we all went to school (didn't we?) and all have experience of good and bad teachers. I think everybody has a story about a teacher that just wasn't up to it but still held onto their job or that a teacher simply didn't like them and caused problems for them. When we become parents we don't want the same for our kids.

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Duhh

We are moving back to Victorian levels of teaching. By age ten I was doing independent research and writing reports on the history of timekeeping. These days you are lucky if a ten year old can tell the time on an analogue watch. By maths they mean arithmetic, useful for the little consumers they are being trained to be, but it will teach you nothing about the fundamentals of maths.

We need less emphasis on conforming to the median. As long as schools meet their targets the best and the worst just get ignored.

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Stop

You're goin' dahn

"For its part, the government warned teachers that they would be breaking the law if they chose not to administer the tests."

Last time they tried this ploy (Tories last time, law'n'order donchaknow) it failed and they then sent letters to school governors reminding them that as they, according to the law, are the actual employers, they'd be liable for prosecution. When HM.Gov were informed they would then find themselves with governors resigning en masse it all went rather quiet. By the same law you are supposed to have a governing body in place to run a school.

Been here before with the last lot, bring it on (again).

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Stop

"Everyone Should Be Above Average"

Forget the namby-pamby liberalist weasel words about 'teachers saying' the tests are unfair for reasons X, Y or Z. The real reason for scrapping the league table and target setting culture of education is that it has engendered a 'pass at all costs' mentality within school managers as the stats are now everything - even if they are largely meaningless ('relative ratings' being a great example).

Pass-mark thresholds are constantly being dropped so that the necessary percentage increases in annual pass rates can be achieved, and cheating is now rife - particularly with internally assessable elements of courses. A blind eye is turned to all of this by head teachers if it means more passes and better statistics for their establishments, none of them farsighted enough to realise that the whole process is unsustainable.

What does this mean to anyone with kids at school? Well - your son or daughters efforts to legitimately gain passes in qualifications (who's stock falls annually) are devalued by the lazy scrotes who get the same qualifications handed to them on a plate by paid-for tutors or (for the poorer ones) by oppressed teaching assistants (grateful for the work and don't question) who do all the work for them (including in some cases sitting the exam for them - the 'reader/scribe' provision is open to abuse in this way), often in the name of 'inclusion'.

The title? That is the unachievable yet stated aim of relative ratings....

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Anonymous Coward

So

is there ANY thought in this government at all? I mean we're at the point where we're in a recession and we've already lost our great engineering base from successive dumbass governments. We've become a nation of hairdressers, lawyers, IT guys and dossers.

We need a strong science and engineering base so we can start to rebuild the economy on a stable platform, so we can regain the prestige we once had, and so that we can keep the populace nice and intelligent- meaning we deserve our freedoms so much more- and hold onto it so much tighter

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Unhappy

Parental choice is to blame

Parental choice of schools is where the problem really began. League Tables are, after all, only required in order to help parents choose a school for their children.

In the Bad Old Days, when you were told which school you should send your kids to and that was that, there were just as many Ineducable Little Scrotes as there are today. (Well, maybe fewer. Some of them might have been educable by means of the then-not-banned cane. Yes, it teaches them that violence is a good way of solving their problems; but they already suspected that.) But without some parents having the option to remove their children to what they perceived as a “better” school, the negative influence of the ILSs was moderated somewhat by the presence of the better-behaved kids. Thus, they were less able to harm the most vulnerable children: the ones whose parents would never have been able to remove them in practice, even if the choice had been available.

Nowadays, the parents who can, choose a "good" school for their kids. Those who, for whatever reason, are unable in practice to send their kids to such a school are doomed to have their children's education destroyed by a disproportionate number of walking Durex adverts. This is the real legacy of abolishing the eleven-plus: a Secondary Modern education for all.

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Paris Hilton

who needs science

Lets be honest, we should be teaching less science anways. who needs science? i mean, we already have everything that we need to know and there is certainly no way that children should be considering a life of science over media studies anyways...

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Anonymous Coward

Testing children.

Measuring children, and testing teachers is what it's actually about. No wonder they don't like it.

Ironically a fundamental aspect of science is the empirical measurement of things...

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Well...

They seem to be phasing out science tests at age 16, if the GCSE test papers are anything to go by, so why would they need to continue testing earlier?

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Black Helicopters

Abolish the science tests?

Obviously Science isn't important anymore.

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Education is more than test subjects, but

I'd like to think children could go to school and learn not only the three Rs, but a wider understanding -- not just basic arithmetic, but also the amazing qualities and complex characters of numbers, what maths can do, how it's tied into physics and physics into the greatest and smallest forces and particles. For English, not just spelling and grammar (if they indeed still teach the latter) but the power and beauty of the English language through poetry and prose. And surely science, that explains the world children have so recently entered and love (collecting bugs, learning about dinosaurs, finding out about vacuums and magnetic attraction) all thsi is so wonderful, and schools *could* teach it, with great teachers and a society that valued thinking and connection and appreciation as well as the multiplication tables and 'i-before-e-except-after-c' stuff. >sigh<

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Title

Personally I would prefer our educational establishments focus on teaching English, Mathematics and Science to the exclusion of "soft" subjects such as Media Studies. I remember examinations being *hard*, and having to apply knowledge I'd gained to work out the answer, not just pick an option from multiple choice. I certainly don't recall being trained for months on end to pass an ultimately artificial and meaningless test simply to satisfy some governmental concept of "quality control".

There was a time when teenagers were capable of stringing sentences together in order to express themselves coherently. These days, it seems, children are taught to "express themselves" vaguely using cliches, "like" and "you know", forcing the onus of comprehension onto the listener, rather than articulating their thoughts and feelings clearly and succinctly to the benefit of all enjoying a conversation.

Equally it seems, children get better marks in examinations for "having a go" than for providing clear, reasoned answers. Presumably taking part, and becoming at one with the herd, is far more important for children these days than striving to improve themselves as individuals.

Perhaps the responsibility for falling educational standards does lie directly at our beloved government's feet. After all, if our children were taught to reason rationally and logically, and taught to express themselves clearly we could be in the devastating position of having a generation of adults who would no longer believe the pseudo-scientific claims made in advertisements for so-called beauty products, who could see the vacuous television programming endemic in our country for the content-free drivel that it truly was, who would no longer accept the spin and disingenuous pronouncements of a corrupt administration, and would possess the necessary vocabulary and language skills needed to express their displeasure clearly and coherently.

What a terrible prospect that would be.

So scratch that. We need more pointless tests and more soft subjects. The less education our children receive during their time at school the better. Perhaps we should broaden History lessons to cover such important topics as Eastenders the early years?

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Alert

Where does that leave us?

If they abolish science tests for 11 year olds, how will we be able to detect the presence of 11 year olds at all?

I guess we'll be back to the old unscientific "is anyone here 11" test.

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Gold badge

Re: Testing children

"Measuring children, and testing teachers is what it's actually about. No wonder they don't like it."

If you believe that these tests measure the full range of what *ought* to be getting taught in our schools, then you are truly deluded and I can only hope that you haven't brought any children into this world.

I sympathize with LEAs wanting hard data on whether schools are performing. However, it is a well known problem that the more pressure you put on reaching targets, the more that everything else gets squeezed. It's called perverse incentive. Google for it. There's a wikipedia article that covers the basics. Something like this should be required reading for governments. In fact, everyone *ought* to understand this and really it ought to be taught in primary schools but I'm afraid there's just no time.

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Unhappy

Only crap teachers fear SATs

SATs aren't there to assess the child. No kid needs to revise or worry about SATs which after all are only a couple of exams in the whole of primary. A good teacher has nothing to worry about, thier pupils will know enough to do well in the tests an all that is needed is a couple of practice papers to get the hang of the question format. Any narrowing of the curriculum is surely only the result of insecure, crap teachers who's only way of getting children through is just to teach to the test at the expense of real learning.

When I was at school we had exams every year from age 7, the results of which went on the board for all to see. This meant was that by the time I had to sit O & A levels or university exams I had done hundreds of exams and was good at taking them.

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Incentives?

It is expected that schools will do a good job teaching all the normal subjects, and at the end of the year, students will be tested on every subject they have taken, in order to determine if they will be admitted to the next grade. "Teaching to the test" is only a problem if, for some reason, the schools are unable to teach everything they should be teaching.

In any case, how can a teachers union boycott tests? If a teacher refuses to do his or her job, union or no union, that teacher would be expected to be sacked. If enough teachers belonging to the union are no longer employed, and new ones are hired, then presumably a new union would get certified. A voluntary association of teachers for the purpose of negotiating wages and working conditions is just that; it doesn't run the schools - the government and the school boards does that.

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Boffin

@Testing children.

> Ironically a fundamental aspect of science is the empirical measurement of things...

Equally ironically, a fundamental aspect of quantum mechanics is that by measuring a system, you change it. How low do you want to go?

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Err...

To quote Iain Hislop: "You don't fatten a pig by weighing it all the time."

It's about time Severe Acute Teaching Syndrome was cured once and for all, by scrapping it.

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Unhappy

I hope teachers in UK schools

teach the kids better than the useless ones I had here in New Zealand , 60 + years ago.

What I learned was despite the teachers, not because of them.

Finally got some blokes who could teach when I went to a Tech. Institute , when I was in my 20s.

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Anonymous Coward

One reason

That teachers might be opposed to it, is cause the higher ups has fucked curriculum so bad that they only way to pass the test is to teach to the test so more time is wasted instewad of educating .

In HS my math teacher refused to teach the useless crap.

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