Today my daughter starts her transition week from primary to senior school, I don’t think this is something that happens in English schools. I’m not even sure how far it occurs in Scottish ones, but it’s something I fully approve of.
Over the last year there has been close involvement between her current primary and the new senior getting the children ready for the step across. She was a bit edgy going in this morning, but no where near as nervous as I can remember being on my first day in September all those years ago. I think I am more concerned than she is, but that was the case when she originally started school and then again when we moved to Glasgow.
The plan when we moved was that we would give it a few years and if we didn’t settle we would return to England before this September. Ha! We knew within a month that this was home; a big part of that was due to the ease she fitted into school. It was a larger and more diverse than she was used to but she took to it like a duck to water and I cannot praise the support from her teachers enough.
I believe this relaxed atmosphere is in part due to the lack of official testing; the resultant strain that it puts both pupils and teachers under is absent and I can honestly say that she is a happier and more confident child than she was.
Would I like her handwriting to be neater and her maths to be better? Of course. At the same time I recognise how her strengths have been supported and the breadth of the subjects she enjoys has widened.
I look at the years she has ahead of her in the Scottish system and what we would have faced in England; the nightmare of trying to get in the school we wanted, the ever encroaching Academy system, to be honest I would stay here just to avoid that. A problem I find is some people here don’t appreciate what they have.
The Scottish Education System was ranked the best in Europe only 2 years ago, although you wouldn’t believe it listening to the opposition parties in Holyrood. This constant complaining, whilst ignoring attainment gaps are at least due partly to increased poverty at home, has led to the Scottish Government announcing the introduction of standardised testing. To say this has been greeted with condemnation from some quarters is a bit of an understatement.
I don’t agree with testing children at such a young age, teachers in general know the levels their pupils are at. I worked in a council long enough to know it’s not just the case that you do the job correctly, but that you have to prove you’ve done it to the right standard, and I am more than aware just how much paperwork this creates. These tests are not intended to set up comparisons between schools, but we all know the media will set up league tables as soon as they get their hands on the data.
I don’t want to see our schools go down the English route, but how do you prove educational success or failure without tests? This is the position the Scottish Government finds itself in. If they refuse to test they don’t care and if they do they are overburdening teachers. And yet again political point scoring has put children stuck in the middle.
I am aware that education is an area where we cannot take things for granted, that there should be a constant drive to have the best system we can have. But I also think we should not inflict the stress levels that some are subjected to in England. Education should be about learning to learn not training for work.
I don’t know what the answers are, all I do know is we have – so far – had a very positive experience of the Scottish system and I am sick of hearing it being criticised.