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’.
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
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