Our kids already feel they are rubbish, no good, failures, failing because of their early life experiences. The way we are treated shapes our brain, shapes our view of ourself and the world around us. Adopted and Looked After children are removed because they have been severely mis-treated, neglected, abused. It’s has to be really bad to taken into care. So, they have to have suffered significant terrible early experiences. This does not just disappear in a puff of smoke when they “find a new family”.
The SATs Tests
They struggle at school; with relationships, friendships, with brain functioning, with feeling safe and now our lovely government (who reckon they’ve done loads for adopted children) have now decided they are going to increase the pressure on SATs tests. Not only will they have to endure these tests in Year 6, now they will have to re-sit in Year 7 if they don’t get the required result. This will simply and very effectively re-inforce their view of themselves and the world. So, we are again going to saying to these children you failed, you are not good enough, you got it wrong, do it again. For what gain?
The result of a test, exam, certificate or qualification is not a true reflection of anyone’s academic ability or knowledge. The politicians themselves are proof of this aren’t they!
The Wider Impact
This is not just going to affect our adopted children. There are many other children in schools with underlying issues, separation anxiety, Looked After, young carers, young people with mental health issues, those who still live in families with domestic violence, drug and alcohol dependant adults, poor housing, poverty and the rest. All these children are going into school every day struggling to settle to be able to learn. Then this pressure and expectation is put on them and raises their anxiety hugely so they cannot think clearly on a daily basis, never mind in SATs week.
Both my children are at secondary school now yet this idea still beggars belief. At their old primary school they already have many of the above-mentioned children in their school and did try to use the information I was able to provide about how adopted and traumatised children function. They implemented knowledge and methods across many pupils in the school. Most evident was the sensory calming tools and techniques that could be used in the classroom and even during the SATs tests. Things like having something to suck or chew on to calm and aid concentration. Having things to fiddle with and items to squeeze also helped.
Did all this help SATs result? Maybe, who would ever know?
Did it change the way these kids feel about themselves? No.
Even if they did achieve Level 4 will they begin to believe in themselves? No
What’s the point of the whole thing anyway when there’s going to be more changes to the way children are measured when they bring in “assessing without levels” as detailed here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/assessment-without-levels-commission-announced. So will a level 4 even be a level 4 if there are to be no more levels. Maybe they’ll end up being a 4, or maybe a carrot, banana, goat or maybe even a D (for dunce perhaps?!).
Does anyone in this government really know what on earth they are doing? Are they even talking to each other?
The Government admit that they recognise adopted children struggle at school and so provide Pupil Premium for them. Are these same people talking to those who say these children “who struggle at school” will have to “re-sit SATs”! Is this really about children failing tests? Or are politicians failing our children?
There’s also so much in media at the moment about Mental Health and how schools need to help improve children’s mental health. Maybe they do. This testing, re-testing, measuring, judging, labelling is not going to improve their mental health either. How does this improve self esteem? Can they increase their resilience and bounce back from the stress and anxiety of failing or getting not-good-enough SATs results? Even if they can, it’s still chipping away at any confidence they might have.
Overall, what message does SATs tests and re-sitting give? It reminds me of football spectators chanting
“You’re sh*! And you know you are”
I think I know who I will be chanting at!