One of my children has just finished his first set of “proper” exams at school last week. I should explain that these exams are UK “SATS”, taken at the end of the last year of primary school. They will be of limited immediate value to him, which is not to say there is no value – his results will be passed on to the Secondary School he will be attending which will be of some benefit for him – but the main point of them seems to me to be to measure the school’s teaching quality rather than for the students’ benefit.
It was stressful for him preparing for them, and we had tears and drama at home with his homework as we got closer to exam time.
Two discussions with my son about his recent exams have stuck with me. The first is when I was trying to both comfort him as well as explain why his exams are valuable for him. Yes they might help the Secondary School he will be attending get an idea of his academic abilities to enable them to better support him as he starts the next stage of his education, but there is also value in his getting experience of exam conditions, of experiencing how they work and how to prepare for them. All of these, I explained, would help him when he was preparing for much more important exams as he gets older.
My son, understanding that what I was saying made sense, replied with tears in his eyes, “I don’t want to grow up”. The challenge for him was that this exam preparation was hard for him – really hard. It was a burden he didn’t feel he could face, and so he wished he could just remain a child so that he could avoid such challenges. Continue reading