Stop ‘after-test parties’, Nicky Morgan tells primaries

The TES is reporting that Nicky Morgan said primary children should see tests as just “part of their schooling” as she called on schools to stop staging celebrations such as “after-test parties”.

Ms Morgan made the statement as she announced her intention to look at introducing more “robust and rigorous” assessments at key stage 1, which many believe could mark the return of national testing.

The announcement been met with significant opposition from teaching unions, which warned that the changes would be “educationally harmful”.

But defending her decision, Ms Morgan insisted tests should be seen as a normal part of school life and she urged parents not to build up expectations around them by staging events like “after-test parties”.

“They are not exams, they are tests. There are ways for schools and parents to manage that,” she told an event staged by the thinktank Policy Exchange.

“When my son did his KS1 tests he didn’t know he’d taken them until afterwards.

“It’s the same when we get to the end of primary. I don’t want to see after-test parties being held. I want it to be something that children take as part of their schooling…”

More at: Stop ‘after-test parties’, Nicky Morgan tells primaries

 

See also: Nicky Morgan’s speech in full: One nation education

 

Is there any merit in the suggestion from Nicky Morgan that schools are unnecessarily upping the ante and creating pressure on children by making primary tests a bigger deal for them than should be the case?

Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…

 

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link

Seven-year-olds need 'robust' tests, says Nicky Morgan
Rise in number of GCSE and A-level candidates given extra marks for extenuating circumstances
Categories: Primary and Teaching.

Comments

  1. Nairb1

    I’m pleased to see that at the end of KS2 pupils shouldn’t be made to feel as if they are sitting an exam. The instructions for the 2016 Y6 tests makes this clear :
    ‘Make sure pupils are kept under test conditions and that they are supervised’
    and
    ‘Check that seating is appropriately spaced and that no pupil can see another pupil’s test paper.’
    I particularly like the first one. This is under the list of requirements for what to do if the test has to be halted. One of the reasons allowed for halting the test is that if ‘a fire alarm goes off.’ I love the idea that in a school evacuation the Y6 pupils must be kept under test conditions and teachers must also ensure that they don’t talk to each other.

  2. teach_well

    Nairb1 Why is this a problem? We are talking roughly what 4/5 hours out of their entire KS2 experience here. It’s not too much to ask. Oh and children have to slowly learn to cope with tests and then exams (the latter leading to qualifications after all). I will go for the it didn’t do me any harm.

  3. teach_well Nairb1 The problem is the months of preparation that leads up to the tests.  These have no educational value and are used solely to judge schools.  
    Children may have to ‘learn to cope with tests’, but that can be left until secondary school.  In any case, we should be moving to a system of graduation at 18 via multiple routes not testing our children to death in tests which have no value for them.
    The OECD warned several years ago there was too much emphasis on exams in England and this risked negative consequences such as teaching to the test, gaming and neglecting other skills.  Since then, the testing regime has become (and promises to become) more onerous.

  4. teach_well Nairb1 Love the ‘it didn’t do me any harm’ argument.  Read Mumsnet threads about Sats, preparation, stress etc.  Lots of Mums wouldn’t agree.  Here’s just one example  http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/2282267-Any-evidence-that-intensive-year-6-SATS-preparation-does-any-good

  5. teach_well

    Janet2 teach_well Nairb1 The only reason for such endless preparation in the first place is due to ridiculous progressive methods used to learn in the first place. If you simply went for the traditional approach – actually taught children knowledge and understanding until they mastered it, there would be no need for repeated testing. There is nothing on the tests that is not covered by the National Curriculum. 

    Also I don’t trust teachers who criticise tests yet do not put forward anything other than teacher assessment or no tests. Part of the problem we have is that too many issues that need to be tackled at primary level are being pushed onto secondaries as it is. What you are asking for is no accountability for primary school teachers – ridiculous.

  6. teach_well

    Janet2 teach_well Nairb1 Hardly a representative sample of parents but hey use any means for your argument even if it is anecdotal. I have blogged about the exaggeration of ChildLine figures similarly used to argue against tests here http://teachwell.me/2015/08/27/how-stressed-are-children-about-exams/ 
    The real numbers of children who are stressed and unable to cope is tiny in comparison to the numbers that aren’t. 

    Leaving it to the teachers led to disasters in many areas including teaching reading. 

    There is nothing unreasonable about teachers and schools being held accountable for how taxpayers money is spent by democratically elected politicians.

    What is unreasonable is teaching using methods based on progressive fantasists, which have failed generation after generation of children, especially the poorest.

  7. Nairb1

    I didn’t say it was a problem, although the excessive testing is of course, I was simply pointing out that Morgan said that children shouldn’t even know they are taking tests and then quoted from the regulations about how these invisible tests should be conducted.

  8. Nairb1

    ‘What you are asking for is no accountability for primary school teachers – ridiculous’
    Agreed … the point you make is ridiculous.

  9. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1  It does not follow that in criticising Key Stage 2 tests that I’m saying there shouldn’t be accountability. Accountability can be attained through sampling and inspection.  There is no need to impose mandatory tests on all primary children for the sole purpose of judging teachers.  This is not education.
    Very few countries have mandatory, centrally-set, nationwide tests at primary school.  Pupils in the UK, and particularly England, are among the most tested in the world.  That is what is ridiculous.

  10. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 Evidence please for your comment that ‘progressive’ methods mean pupils have to be endlessly prepared for tests.  But first define, ‘progressive’.  That’s an imprecise term used by politicians and others to mean any method of teaching they don’t like.

  11. thiskidsthinkin

    It’s been a while since I took any kind of test, but I’d imagine for a primary school child, it is quite stressful. How many adults look forward to a drink after a stressful day to relax? Why can’t we do the same for children, a small party, to relax (not the drink part obviously)?

  12. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 I agree that anecdotal evidence is imprecise.  Unfortunately, you had already resorted to an anecdotal appeal based on a sample of one – yourself.
    So let’s ignore both sets of anecdotes.  As I say above, accountability can be achieved via inspection and sampling – no need for mandatory tests.
    I note you’ve fallen back on the ‘progressive fantasist’ argument.  That’s a strawman which doesn’t address the lack of educational value in the tests and the amount of time wasted in teaching to the test.

  13. Nairb1

    ‘@Janet2 @teach_well @Nairb1 Hardly a representative sample of parents but hey use any means for your argument even if it is anecdotal’
    And yet you feel that ‘it didn’t do me any harm’ is a point worth making.

  14. teach_well

    Nairb1 So you don’t think there should be any accountability? That accountability for the way that millions of taxpayers money is being spent is somehow wrong?

  15. teach_well

    Janet2 teach_well Nairb1 Robert Peal’s Progressively Worse deals with this matter very well. As for my own experience, the schools that hothouse in Year 6 the most are the ones peddling progressive methods the most. However, I agree more research is needed in this area to establish who is doing what in different schools. Because the assumption it is due to the government is also a presumption. There is no need to spend all year testing. I didn’t in Year 2 and still got fantastic results.

  16. teach_well

    Nairb1 Janet2 Fair enough on that point. Neither of you have actually commented on the evidence I have given based on the ChildLine figures. Care to comment?

  17. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 ‘Progressively Worse’ has its critics.  Peal argued these critics were mistaken https://goodbyemisterhunter.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/a-response-to-critics-1-cherry-picking/ and says the Follow Through evaluation validates direct instruction.  But Follow Through also has its critics including claims of bias, faulty measurement and analysis problems.  http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_197803_house.pdf
    After having criticised me for anecdotal evidence, you now appeal to your own anecdotal experience to claim schools ‘peddling (emotive word) progressive methods’ are the ones who hothouse pupils for the test.
    As an antidote to Peal, I recommend the chapter on progressive education in ‘The Truth About our Schools’ (I declare an interest – I’m one of the co-authors).  https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138937178

  18. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 Peal’s response to his critics  https://goodbyemisterhunter.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/a-response-to-critics-1-cherry-picking/ says the failure of schools like Risinghill, Summerhill and Willam Tyndale have failed to a far greater degree than any’progressive’ schools have flourished.
    Tyndale was an extreme example from 1973 which became a cause celebre.  The failure of so-called ‘progressive’ schools can’t be so numerous if someone has to go back 42 years for an example.
    Risinghill was also controversial but attracted fierce loyalty described in ‘Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School’ which suggested its closure was more to do with politics than the regime inside the school.  See http://www.risinghill.co.uk/ for update.
    Ofsted social care inspection of independent Summerhill in 2007  http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/CARE/SC024584 describe Summerhill as an ‘ independent school with an alternative stance to children’s education, described
    as ‘democratic and self-governing’.  Inspectors wrote under the headings, ‘Helping children achieve well and enjoy what they do’ and ‘Helping children make a positive contribution’ that ‘The provision is outstanding.’
    Outstanding doesn’t chime with failure.
    That’s not to say I would be comfortable with Summerhill’s approach.  I wouldn’t.  But like Tyndale it’s a one-off and can’t be used to make generalised comments about schools which adopt so-called progressive methods.

  19. teach_well Nairb1 Janet2 As stress was brought up in anecdotal evidence that we both decided was unreliable, there’s no need to be diverted into whether Sats produce stress.  The key argument is their educational value and they have none.

  20. teach_well

    Janet2 teach_well Nairb1 You were the one to post the link to mumsnet. Fair enough my own personal experience is anecdotal but the ChildLine figures are not. SAT’s do have educational value in that they test how well children have been taught the National Curriculum up to that point. There is nothing on the tests that is not part of the curriculum. 

    I simply do not agree with a cushy regime where the occasional (highly subjective) sampling of work is enough. What a simple way of hiding failure in a school.

  21. thiskidsthinkin

    teach_well thiskidsthinkin I suspect the percentage of children talking to relatives/someone they can trust is higher than those who ring childline. The parties may not have any real purpose, but neither do fun days, or special assemblies for Easter.Christmas, etc. They are simply fun. 

    One example, at the school I work at, is the assembly being held on Friday afternoon to celebrate a classroom assistant retiring. The children are doing a play about her life. After, they are having tea. There will be hours of work lost this week for the P7 class rehearsing the play, plus every class won’t be working Friday afternoon. 

    In reality, the play isn’t needed as staff are having a party later on, but, it gives everyone involved in the school a chance to get together, relax, staff meet parents in a non-formal atmosphere, celebrate a former member of staff. The kids get a self esteem boost, and a chance to practice public speaking. 

    No school has to do parties, but, ultimately, it is up to the class teacher/school. I don’t think government has any say in if parties for something are allowed, as long as the subjects are covered.

  22. thiskidsthinkin

    teach_well thiskidsthinkin I suspect the percentage of children talking to relatives/someone they can trust is higher than those who ring childline. The parties may not have any real purpose, but neither do fun days, or special assemblies for Easter.Christmas, etc. They are simply fun. 

    One example, at the school I work at, is the assembly being held on Friday afternoon to celebrate a classroom assistant retiring. The children are doing a play about her life. After, they are having tea. There will be hours of work lost this week for the P7 class rehearsing the play, plus every class won’t be working Friday afternoon. 

    In reality, the play isn’t needed as staff are having a party later on, but, it gives everyone involved in the school a chance to get together, relax, staff meet parents in a non-formal atmosphere, celebrate a former member of staff. The kids get a self esteem boost, and a chance to practice public speaking. 

    No school has to do parties, but, ultimately, it is up to the class teacher/school. I don’t think government has any say in if parties for something are allowed, as long as the subjects are covered.

  23. Nairb1

    It does if you refuse to respond. You cast atly dismiss ‘progressive’ education without any indication of what that means. We have no idea of how you define such practice, you simply use it as a means of deriding something, but we don’t know what.

  24. teach_well

    Nairb1 So called “Child-centred”, discovery learning, teachers as facilitators, teacher as friend rather than figure of authority in class,  moral relativism applied to behaviour management. Focus on pastoral care (babysitting and pandering) rather than the academic. Basically what we have now in most schools and what needs to change. 

    Read Rousseau, Dewey, AS Neill, more recently Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra. I am sure you will agree wholeheartedly.

  25. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 Read the OECD document on the challenges surrounding assessment and accountability.   http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/46927511.pdf
    These include challenges re tests which only examine a narrow range of subjects only (ie our Sats)’ teacher ownership of the assessment process; excessive bureaucratic demands on schools; balancing teacher assessment with external assessment; self evaluation v external   evaluation and so on.
    Oversimplification to say sampling (which involves external moderation of work) is ‘highly subjective’ and a way of ‘hiding failure’.

  26. teach_well Nairb1 So who is at the centre of education if not the child?  Is it society?  The Government of the day?  Employers?
    Child-centred education has been misrepresented as anarchy where children are left to their own devices to find things out for themselves.
    It’s instructive you should regard pastoral care, which recognises that children need support at some time (eg bereavement, family breakdown, bullying) as ‘babysitting and pandering’.  It is possible to have good pastoral care and a focus on learning.  It should not be ‘either/or’.
     I admire Ken Robinson and don’t see why he’s such a hate figure.  But as for the rest:

    Has anyone actually followed Rousseau’s views?  It’s doubtful especially as he recommends that girls be trained to please their future husbands.  
    Only Summerhill is run on the lines of A S Neill and I’ve already said I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. 
    As for Sugata Mitra, his ‘hole in the wall’ computers were not the success he claimed – many are now broken and were dominated by boys playing games.  His ‘grannies in the clouds’ should never replace teachers on the ground.
    It’s unwise to make assumptions about what people think and then attack them on the basis of what you think they think.  
    My point of view is that both progressive and traditional are needed. http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2014/03/dont-pitch-traditional-and-progressive-teaching-against-each-other-both-are-needed/

  27. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 It does not follow than in recognising the challenges around assessment and accountability I am in favour of ‘no safeguards and oversight’.  You are again making assumptions.

  28. teach_well Janet2 Nairb1 It does not follow than in recognising the challenges around assessment and accountability I am in favour of ‘no safeguards and oversight’.  You are again making assumptions.

  29. Nairb1

    You can’t counter a ‘straw man’ point by setting up several more straw men. However I would be interested in how you know what goes on in ‘most’ schools.

  30. teach_well

    Nairb1 You asked what I meant by progressive education then you accuse me of setting up strawmen!! If your not interested in the answer, don’t ask the question. Also I know about what goes on in most schools as much as you do.

  31. teach_well

    Nairb1 You asked what I meant by progressive education then you accuse me of setting up strawmen!! If your not interested in the answer, don’t ask the question. Also I know about what goes on in most schools as much as you do.

  32. Nairb1

    Which you did. Those elements which you identify as progressive are simply straw men which you have created. Consider Janet’s comment about who should be at the centre of education if not the child, discovery learning is only ‘progressive’ because you say so, others would claim that the research, evaluation, discussion, mistake making etc involved is good education. Teacher as friend? Not what I see … friendly yes, as friend no. And your dismissal of pastoral care is simply prejudice.
    If you know as much about what goes on in ‘most’ schools as I do then that’s not much. I visit a lot of schools, but wouldn’t claim that I know what goes on in ‘most’ of the 20,000+ schools.

  33. TW

    teach_well  I might if you did but you don’t seem to have much to say apart from blustering about right-wing fantasies.

  34. teach_well Nairb1 This reply’s a little late, but ‘Icing on the Cake’ has just posted a thoughtful, evidence-based reply to those who think it’s possible to test children, especially very young ones, accurately.  http://icingonthecakeblog.weebly.com/blog/assessing-young-children-however-you-do-it-is-always-biased

Let us know what you think...