Children Who Fail

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!

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7 thoughts on “Children Who Fail

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Political interference under the last Government encouraged me first to leave state education and then to leave teaching altogether. Political interference under this Government has cemented my decision to home educate. Education (like health) needs to be taken out from politics so it can stop being the plaything of politicians that it has been for many decades. However, on the BBC website article on this topic it did say that children with ‘special needs’ would not have to take the re-sits – not sure exactly how they’re defining special needs though. Either way, asking children to re-sit tests that are meant only to provide an indicator of achievement so far and provide no qualification for anything is a very moronic idea, not to mention a waste of their time, and that of the teachers who, rather than educating them during Y7 to improve their skills, will instead be required to prepare them for tests. A policy truly deserving of a great big slow handclap.

    • There is lot of agreement about this, sadly not in Government!!
      I had seen the bit about SEN not being included and this is why I mention young carers and generally troubled and anxious children as they will not come under then banner of SEN and still be affected. My Littley has no SEN status. That does not mean she is not without issues!
      Thanks for reading and your comments.

  2. I totally agree and I’m worried. I have a child in Year 3 who did well in his Year 2 SATS, but Year 6 – I’m not so sure, because of course he’ll be doing his SATS at the same time as learning that he’ll be moving to High School. Tests and anxiety = recipe for disaster!

    Thanks for sharing your post with #WASO

  3. My big boy is doing SATs very soon. He is on the SEN register, thankfully; but the other adopted child in his class, who struggles academically, but is quiet and not a problem in class, isn’t on the register. So this child will have to resit? Grossly unfair.
    As for my son, his teachers are telling him that it would be great if he could get to level 4. He DOESN’T need that sort of pressure. We are telling him that it doesn’t matter, he’s just got to do his best; but he can’t hear what we are saying, because of the ‘noise’ his teachers are making about it. He feels if he doesn’t get level 4 he will be letting his school down. I think it’s wicked to put him under pressure to succeed, he’s got masses of issues to deal with that other kids don’t have to face. He will now be devastated if he doesn’t get level 4. He is desperately keen to do his SATS like the other kids. I think the whole system is crooked.

    • I don’t think the re-sits rule is in place yet. However, none of the children need that pressure do they! I told my children it is testing them to check if the teachers have done their job. Helped a little, but not massively. I agree that their disappointment is huge. It comes from Government though and I get that teachers and schools are under pressure too. Wonder what will be happening by the end of this week – after elections!

      I hope your boy manages to get through his SATs OK (whatever the outcome).
      Thanks for sharing your situation too.
      Emma x

      • I told my boy that it was the teachers that were being tested, not him, but that one came came back to bite me. His response was to get upset and say that he didn’t want to let his teachers and school down, so he HAD to do well.

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