In four weeks’ time exams season will be upon us. Along with schools up and down the country, we will begin testing your children to summarise what they have learnt this year and identify which areas need further support and further hard work next year. Much has been written in the papers recently regarding the SATs tests in England and the supposed over testing of young people in England. Responses have varied but have tended to focus on the stress that children are under and been very negative in their nature.
I shared with the children this morning a few facts and thoughts regarding exams. Did you know, for example, that the average pupil takes 105 exams during their school years? Or that a pupil can be out of lessons for as many as 46 weeks in the course of their secondary school career. They will also spend 150 hours actually sitting exams costing somewhere in the region of £350 million a year. Childline will also receive 800 calls from young people each year suffering from exam stress.
Without wanting to be accused of sitting on the fence, my view is that of moderation. Enough testing should be done so that we can track pupil’s progress and gain valuable feedback which will show what our next steps should be. However, we must keep this firmly in perspective. While tests give useful information, we should also bear in mind that they only give a small part of the picture of what makes your children tick and there are so many other aspects to them and their lives which are impossible to measure. So while I gave the young people some tips this morning on how to revise and succeed in the exam room, I also left them with a few thoughts as to how to keep things in perspective. In particular, I set them a few challenges for over half term:
Perhaps I might also share a poem with you that some of the Form 8s read out this morning:
So Much More
By B. Banks
You, dear child, are so much more,
Than a number, a percentage, a level or score,
You’re a brilliant artist painting a scene,
A wonderful poet describing a dream.
An author creating mystery and surprise,
A rugby player scoring a hat trick of tries,
A chorister singing a beautiful song,
A mathematician who is rarely wrong.
A sailor sailing away in a boat,
A musician hitting the perfect note,
An athlete winning the medal of gold,
A fearless adventurer so brave and so bold.
The list is long, and I could go on,
You really are a talented one,
Your tests are important but be in no doubt,
They do not define what you are about.
You see dear child, you are so much more,
Than a number, a percentage, a level or score.
John F Gilmour