An Open Letter

As parents and educators we find ourselves increasingly concerned at the pressure that is being placed on our children and young people. We worry about the long term impact that this pressure may have on our children’s emotional health, particularly on the most vulnerable in our society. We are concerned to hear of children crying on their way to school, upset that they will not be able to keep up; of parents worried that their four year olds are ‘falling behind’ or of six year olds scared that they ‘might not get a good job’. And we wonder what has happened to that short period in our lives known as ‘childhood’.

The pressure that is put on schools to achieve results, particularly in the tests that now form such a regular feature of a child’s life, has inevitably led to increased pressure on the children themselves. This is not to blame teachers, or schools. Rather, it is to say that with test results becoming such a high stakes feature of our education system, schools are put in a very difficult position. When test results are the key measure of whether a child’s school is ‘good’ or not, we believe that every child’s entitlement to a broad and balanced education is put at risk. We believe all children have the right to become fully rounded individuals, and that in order to help them achieve this, we must protect their emotional well-being, now and for the future. We believe all children have the right to be treated as individuals, and to be allowed to develop at a pace that is right for them, not to meet a Government target.

We call for all those who are equally concerned to speak out against the direction in which education in England, and in other countries around the world, is moving. We call for governments around the world to take into account children’s emotional well-being when they consider the ‘effectiveness’ of schools and other educational settings. If you would like to join us in sending this message to those in government, please add your name, and any title/location, to the comments thread below in order to ‘sign’.

Thank you,

Sue Cowley – Parent, author, educator and chair of preschool committee, Bristol, England

Laura Henry – Parent, independent early years consultant, trainer, writer and author, London, England

Debra Kidd – Parent, teacher and author, England

Hywel Roberts – Parent, author and travelling teacher, Yorkshire, England

Elizabeth Holmes – Parent, educator and author, England

Tim Taylor – Parent and teacher, England

Meraud Ferguson Hand – Parent, England

Chris Chivers – Grandparent, ex head teacher, consultant, ITT, tutor, blogger, England

Kate Evans – Parent, educator and head teacher, Scotland

Nancy Gedge – Parent, teacher and blogger, Gloucestershire, England

Emma Hardy – Parent, primary teacher, blogger and activist, England

Di Leedham – Parent and teacher, London, England

Mary Cooper – Parent and educator, Lancashire, England

Neil Leitch – chief executive, Pre-school Learning Alliance

Please support the Too Much Too Soon Campaign.

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544 Responses to An Open Letter

  1. Theresa Lane says:

    Completely agree. Nursery headteacher

    Like

  2. Vicky Duoras says:

    I have felt this way for a very long time…summed up perfectly.
    Vicky Dupras
    Headteacher
    North Somerset

    Like

  3. Laura Precious says:

    Parent of 6 and 3 year old boys, primary school teacher, former nursery school trustee and former EFL teacher in Hungary to under 6s. I love being a primary school teacher but for some years now I have not felt comfortable with the things that we are expected to get young children to do in order to maintain some government notion of ‘standards.’

    Like

  4. Amanda Silvestri says:

    Totally agree.
    Parent and registered childminder, London, England

    Like

  5. Debbie Foster says:

    Fully agree! Parent to a ten year old, ex primary school teacher and now a Family Support Worker in a special school.

    Like

  6. Abi Pollard says:

    Parent and Ofsted Registered Childminder

    Like

  7. Louise Regan says:

    Parent, Primary Teacher and Activist, Nottingham, England

    Like

  8. Joanne Williams says:

    Support Worker with persistently absent children, Sprowston Community High School, Norwich and parent of a ‘middle of the road’ 10 year old boy

    Like

  9. Sara Tomlinson says:

    Teacher, parent, NUT activist. Proud of our union’s campaign to boycott SATs in 2010. Desperate to make sure we can boycott new tests for 4 year old. Need coalition of parents and education workers to make it work.

    Like

  10. Charlotte Young says:

    Artist Educator, London, UK

    Like

  11. Too much too soon.
    Parent, Early years Professional & Trainee Teacher, England.

    Like

  12. Totally support everything you say but can we have guaranteed (protected) funding for state maintained nursery schools. All the evidence suggests that they produce the best outcomes in all areas of development but they are under threat

    Like

  13. Simon Withey says:

    In English Primary schools our children go to school for an average (mean) of 899 hours per year in Finland that figure is 652 hours per year. No setting, no competiton between schools, no private education, free nursery places, no formal education until 7. Even though they don’t regard PISA as far or accurate Finland still tops the table. They put family life as top prority.

    Parent and Teacher of Children (Computing) Code Club & Code Club pro volunteer, CEOP trainer, Apps for Good trainer, Basic Expedition Leader (BELa)

    Like

  14. Zoe Wild says:

    Mum, trainee teacher. Love them learning but why the pressure of tests when so young?

    Like

  15. Nick Marshall says:

    Old PhD student. Yorkshire

    Like

  16. Laura says:

    Too much on emphasis test ‘results’ and not enough on children learning and growing is having very damaging effects on the mental health of our children.

    Like

  17. Jane Burr says:

    Mother and Teacher. London, England.

    Like

  18. Becky says:

    Teacher & parent worried about the damage being done to our childrens mental health.

    Like

  19. Absolutely. Give children back their childhood. Lots of evidence that children should play more and postpone structured learning. The testing regime is truly toxic. (parent and educator.)

    Like

  20. Linda Dix says:

    Happy, relaxed children learn; they have to find their own route not have facts and restrictions thrust upon them. Play IS learning.
    Teacher, musician, singer

    Like

  21. Completely agree.
    Parent

    Like

  22. timjimnelson says:

    Totally agree
    Parent, writer and lecturer.

    Like

  23. Fiona Davis says:

    Completely agree. Mother and teacher.

    Like

  24. Andrew McCall-Smith says:

    Agree 100%. We’ve just removed our 8-year old from school due to him saying “I can’t take it anymore” on too many occasions. Our 10-year old is still in school, but is not the bubbly playful little boy he was a short time ago.

    Like

  25. Helena Nilsson says:

    Manager of Wildflowers Kindergarten in Hampshire

    Like

  26. I agree with this, Leonie Burton (playworker and educator)

    Like

  27. Claire Woolley says:

    Concerned parent

    Like

  28. Agnes Javor says:

    Policy makers arrogantly ignore research, experience and common sense and children suffer. It is outrageous! Why do we allow it to happen?
    (grandparent, teacher, counsellor)

    Like

  29. Helen Tonks says:

    Parent, teacher, England

    Like

  30. Penny Best says:

    Parent and ofsted registered childminder

    Like

  31. Bernie Doherty says:

    I sometimes want to weep when I hear children being referred to as a “percentage”. Is it too much to ask that children can be children during their school years and enjoy their learning without the intense pressure? HT in primary education.

    Like

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