I have been known to, once or twice, complain about the pressure put on children by too much testing. Principally, my moan is about the government’s SATs and GCSE targets and the fact that even so-called vocational subjects have to have an A Level equivalent. I feel that these targets make teachers put too much emphasis on getting kids through to a particular level, rather than teaching them more important skills and subjects.
Then, yesterday, I went into town to look for some sticker books and dot-to-dots for my kids to take with them on holiday later in the week (we have a long car journey, so I want them to be busy). In W H Smiths. I stood for about five minutes in front of a wall of booklets, completely dumbfounded. The wall stretched about thirty meters, was about five shelves high and was crammed with A4 booklets aimed at helping your child read, write, add up, get through their SATs, GCSEs and A Levels. Amongst this mountain of revision booklets and teaching notes I couldn’t see a simple dot-to-dot or colouring book for love nor money, so I made as sharp as sharp and exit as I could, resolving to buy some plain paper and some colouring pens.
There is obviously a HUGE market for such goods, so it would seem that the pressure is not just coming from the government, but also from parents. Frankly, I think that our target-driven education system has gone absolutely mad.