Members of the UK National Union of Teachers (NUT), have called for a major campaign to protest the “damaging and immoral” literacy and numeracy checks for four-year-old children in the first weeks of their education.
These “baseline” checks were announced by the Government as part of an overhaul of primary school testing. They will be used as a marker of children’s abilities at the start of their schooling, and this information will be used to track and measure the children’s’ progress through primary school.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said that “tests and teacher assessments at primary school form a fundamental part of a child’s education, but they are not intended to hinder their development or cause undue stress”. These baseline tests is purely to assess children’s starting points so that we can see how well schools help children.
Members of the National Union of Teachers however, remain unconvinced, raising concerns that young children will be told they are “not good enough” within weeks of starting school. Many view the tests as unnecessary and damaging, especially given the young age of the children – it’s a period of time that is vital for children to learn through play and build their confidence, as well as social skills with their teachers and peers.
While the intention of introducing these baseline tests perhaps stems from a good place, one does question whether it is really necessary given that the children are so young when they are to be administered. Many of these youngsters have yet to develop the emotional and mental maturity needed to deal with a failure or setback, should their scores come back less than satisfactory. In addition, acquisition of knowledge and skills takes time, proper guidance and practice. Perhaps these baseline tests would be more useful as a measure of each child’s knowledge acquisition and capabilities when they are administered at an older age.
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