Assessment for children simply does not add up

By Janet King, Sector Manager Education and Childcare at CACHE

At a time when teachers are quite rightly prioritising children’s mental health and nurturing a love of learning following the return to school, the government has recently announced an additional formal phonics check in the Autumn term for year 2 learners.

This means that with the new Baseline and Times Tables tests (requiring a 100% pass rate), very young learners will sit double the number of high-pressure tests that they were taking before the pandemic.

This approach to assessment doesn’t feel part of a reasonable recovery programme for children, many of whom are feeling overwhelmed. This approach could seriously undermine the sheer hard work and commitment from teaching staff who have gone above and beyond to support children and their families at a time when they too may have faced their own personal challenges.

The campaign ‘More Than a Score’ wants to ensure that the government’s plan works for every child, no matter what their experience during lockdown. They are asking the government to not bring back various tests and drop the introduction of others, to give children the time they need to bridge gaps in learning without facing extensive “catch-up pressure”.

At CACHE, we support this campaign and ask that children’s mental health is prioritised. We are aware that mental health problems in children have increased significantly over the course of the pandemic and believe that the education system should support learners to overcome these, rather than piling on the pressure with additional tests.

After some children may have experienced an extended break from education, we need to encourage them to rediscover their love for learning.  We can do by building a rich curriculum and removing the fear of failure. As More Than a Score highlights, learner wellbeing should be placed at the heart of the recovery plan.

Have your say on the tests and write to your MP today here.