As the dreaded SATs tests draw to a close, it’s time to shine a spotlight on our children’s wellbeing and ultimately, the impact of exams on their mental health.
For a while now, my partner and I have been ‘testing out’ home education as we’re both opposed to the pressures that are put on young pupils today with constant testing, cramming of information and lots of sitting down.
What I fear the most though, is that children are becoming “stressed” at school and this is seriously impacting their confidence and mental health.
Next week mark’s mental health awareness week and it’s time to treat our children as human beings rather than robots who need to pass tests in order to flourish.
This was the way in which I was dragged through the education system, I studied not for the love of it, but to pass my exams.
I had been trained from a young age to cram revise, skim read and learn by repetition rather than doing.
Not only were we as pupils stressed but the teachers were too.
We weren’t treated as individuals, we were seen as percentages.
Everything was about being graded and even what book you were allowed to read from the school library depended on what level or colour you were at with your reading.
Not being allowed to read a book because you’re not clever enough, is absurd!
To think just because I’m dyslexic that would mean that a whole world of literature could be unobtainable to someone like me.
And it’s not just kids who are feeling the pressure, as I said, teachers are bearing the brunt of it too.
Many of my friends went into teaching, full of energy and optimism for the young people that they would be teaching.
And then suddenly they were hit by a rigid curriculum and a constant fear of an Ofsted inspection.
Their enthusiasm was quickly extinguished. They were being forced to teach complex grammar to some kids who could barely speak.
They were having to teach some kids to use a knife and fork and yet they were feeling overwhelmed with trying to make these same kids pass over-complicated exams.
That situation was not good on anybody’s mental health.
As the parents who took their kids out of the school for the day to protest against SATs said: “Let our kids be kids.”
And may I add: Let our teachers teach, not force-feed.
The education system may engulf our children and their sanity but their mental health must come first.
When I look back at my own education, I wish I could go back and tell my super stressed self, who would be in all day revising, to go outside and play, make friends and learn skills – because that’s what you need to succeed in life and to be happy, not grades.
Perhaps, we should rate our schools on how happy they make our kids?
A happiness league?