Monday 14 May 2012

When I was eleven

When I was eleven
It still felt like I was seven,
I climbed trees, 
ran in the breeze
and scraped my knees.

When I was eleven
life felt like heaven,
I rode my bike,
did hand stands, cart wheels and the like 
and oh, read the Secret Seven.

I did (mostly) what I was told
learnt to be bold and 
didn't worry about getting old.

Now I see you,
my daughter, who
takes the world on her shoulders,
bogged down with sats tests like big boulders,
stressed and strained, 
having moments of your childhood maimed.

I know this week will soon fly by
sometimes the institution of schooling can make me cry.
Be carefree my sweet,
you'll do just great,
You don't have to worry about 
proving yourself to the state! 
  (written by me at 2am this morning)

This little poem of mine says it all, please don't get me wrong, I am not against education in any shape or form but having seen my girly putting herself under such pressure it hurts me so. I am not in favour of her feeling stress at this tender age and I know these tests were inevitable but that still doesn't make me agree with them. 

I hope this has not offended anyone in education in any shape or form, it's just my opinion x


  1. I totally agree. I remember a childhood of play, spending time being a child. I too have seen my daughter (and son) take on SATs, worried about failing all at such a tender age.

    And we are all entitled to our opinions.

    Lovely poem by the way xx

  2. I quite agree with you. I watched my friends put their children through private tutoring/homework coaching etc and now their kids are struggling to keep up in grammar schools. All my three did not do their 11 plus, all three went straight to the top at secondary school. My daughter is now doing the baccalaureate after being put in the grammar stream only a few weeks into year 7. My eldest is doing his PHD after graduating BSc (Hons). I was told they were all 'borderline' and it wasn't worth them doing the 11 plus!
    I wonder sometimes if the pressure the children are feeling is 'picked up' from their teachers.
    I would rather my child did well at an ordinary school than struggled at a so called 'good' school, it is better for their own wellbeing and self-esteem.
    The school my children went/is going to is now an Academy and has the local primary and also a 'failing' school under it's remit (I think the head is now a 'super head' larf)

    This is my opinion. There may be others who disagree, I don't care - my kids are happy, that's all that matters to me.
    PS - Ooer sorry, did I go on a bit?!

  3. I am a year 6 teacher and I agree with your comments entirely! As a teacher I do not mind performance reviews, lesson observations or Ofsted visits - I have nothing to hide and want to be the best teacher that I possibly can be.

    However it is sad when children are put under the pressure of tests as a measure of a teachers/schools performance :( I hope the children in my class are not feeling under too much pressure this week.

    After the reading comprehension this morning we had a lovely cinema afternoon and the children went home happy and smiley which is really important to me.

    Lovely poem - I hope your daughter is okay this evening xx

  4. I totally agree with you.

    Although I have a few questions I don't want to start a debate about who puts pressure on the students. However, their parents' expectations might be a reason too.

    Can you tell me what happens to the results of the tests and what the consequences are? Are they a mesurement for the ability of a child or the school (good results = good school)?

    Do children have to get hight results to get better chances for a better education? And what does a better education mean?
    In my opinion not everybody can be an academic. I believe in traded workers (I'm Swiss).

    Anyway, what I see in schools here, the more pressure, the less students are willing or able to do. There are exceptions of course, but some finally break under the burden. Sooner or later. I've seen it.

    As a sensitive teacher and I try hard to feel when (who) I have to push (of course you have to) and when (who) to hold back.

  5. This is something I have been on a rant about just lately. And my eldest is only eight. She has had waaaay to much (in my opinion) homework to do. I have very strong views on the subject particularly lately. The amount she is expected to AND be a child is quite frankly overwhelming to me as a parent.

    I could go on and on but I wont for fearing of upsetting someone. God help us when she gets to 11!

    Love the poem by the way.

    P x

  6. Firstly, I love your poem , and hope your daughter sails through and comes out the other end a normal, happy, little girl. I think there always has been a certain amount of pressure - I was an 'eleven-plus' child, so we had those exams to get through, but all in all the media, teachers and parents did not make the big fuss that it has become these days, the whole culture was different.

    Not a teacher myself (history in the Health Service, just as maligned and interfered with!) I have many teachers among my friends and they seem really constantly stressed out with all the observations and reports, SATS etc. And these are what I would term 'good teachers'.Sorry, I've been ranting now, good post, Penelope!

    Babjeza, we lost our way when we decided EVERYONE should get a degree, and we lost so many of our technical colleges where children who were not academically inclined (or not at that age) would get a darned good education and training for a career/skill based employment. It is so difficult now for youngsters to get a good apprenticeship. So much wrong with our education system and the teachers who have been at the chalk-face a long time will have seen the same changes come round and round under a different guise. I've no idea what the answer is, but suspect leaving staff alone to get on with what they do best, might be a goos start! Sorry, now I'VE been ranting! Good post

  7. Lovely poem, totally agree - children are children for such a short period of time!
    Victoria xx

  8. I couldn't agree more with you Penelope. I trained to teach art, though I mostly worked with adults and not in schools and I don't teach any more. I wouldn't want to in the current climate, all the testing being part of what has put me off. My own children were given the option of state schooling or home schooling, the girls chose the former, the boys the latter. One boy and one girl now both have MAs, one boy and one girl have ultimately chosen alternative paths to academia. All four are doing just fine. In other words jumping through the hoops of conventional schooling is only part of the story. I'll stop there or I'll be ranting along with Lynne!

  9. I hated the Y6 SATS - was convinced they were only for the benefit of league tables and not my boys. Luckily both were pretty chilled about the whole thing.

    We're now onto GCSE's - big son has done some and the rest kick off in earnest next week.

    I hope your daughter's week goes well and she's not too stressed by all this - xxx

  10. I think it so unfair to put kids through the grill like this when in reality it is the schools that are pushing for the results. When my two arrived in the UK, not able to speak English half way through term 2, not one single school would have them. After begging and pleading, one headmistress said she would take them as long as my then 11 year old did NOT sit the SATS because she did not want her 'bringing down the tables'. We agreed, only to get a phone call a few weeks later asking if we would let her do the Maths SAT because in fact, she was very good at Maths!! Talk about unfair and we were forced to question the benefits of the tests at all. Of course she sat them, she was so happy to be included, but day after day she came home saying there were no lessons, only revision. Sad start to her education here.
    I hope your little one just has faith in herself and does not feel to snowed under.

  11. That's a great poem. I agree with you. Unfortunately, the teachers are put under a lot of pressure themselves and so they in turn pass on the stress to the children. There is definitely something not right about this system.

  12. Great poem, my boys are 9, 6 and 3 so we've not hit this stage yet......the two schools they attend are not in our catchment and I did the unthinkable of taking them out of a small village school and putting them in a big rowdy town school....they have come on leaps and bounds, hats off to the fantastic teachers they have. ...I think the two younger boys will not necessarily go the academic route, so we will have to be there to give whatever support and help the need when they hit the testing stages....I'm not sure what the answer is, schools have to appeal to so many different capabilities, learning styles....I guess it's hard to know how to measure each child 's ablities in a 'best for them' method, but the thing we can do as parents is constantly reassure our children that all they need to do is try their best and that the outcome is not a longterm issue as there are always different ways to get to the same place.

  13. Great poem, and so true! I teach in a primary school (tho' not Year 6, thankfully), and have a stepson doing the SATs now. I hate the stress that he is feeling, and would do anything to take it away. His teacher told him that his results would affect his future career! I was furious, and told her so!
    Let them be kids!

  14. Speaking (writing?) as a 67 yr old and an ex-teacher, I think too much has been made of SATs by Government, schools and parents. They simply measure a child's attainment at that moment in time. Children need to be stretched and at the age of eleven they should be able to read correctly, write good English with all the correct punctuation and spelling (and not use capital letters in the middle of words!) and be numerate, too. Too many aren't capable of doing that and I know this because I came out of retirement to do some SATs catch up with some Yr 6 children. I was horrified by the low standards. These were lovely kids, who had somehow failed to grasp the rudiments of both literacy and numeracy. They had slipped through the net. I also taught in the local high school and was dealing with more of the same.

    My children had to do their 11plus . It was just a fact of life and you got on with it. They were normal kids - they played, read, didn't watch TV (we didn't have one) and squabbled just as kids do. They didn't have much - if any - homework and seemed to think that playing ludo and suchlike board games great fun. They read vast amounts and that's possibly the key to success. BTW, they still read...

    I do understand how schools feel: the pressure is always there to work miracles or else suffer the wrath of Ofsted! My last school went through an Ofsted inspection and it wasn't much fun.

    So, please don't "baby" Yr 6 children. When they get to secondary school, life will be much more rigorous and they need to be able to handle and use much more information than they had access to in primary school. Stress is a normal part of everyday life and they need to be able to handle that, too! They don't need to be told that this is the be all and end all of their career in the future but they do have to understand that learning is important and life long learning very important..

    Good luck to all you young mums, your children will survive! Keep calm, don't panic and go and have a cup of tea.

  15. I felt exactly the same way last year, but looking back it gave my son so much confidence which he really needed for moving into secondary school where they will be moving in the same areas as eleven/twelve up to eighteen year olds plus it is all test, test, tests from their on in so even though it is hard at this very moment in time it's also good starting point and to see how they can cope (or not) pin pointing those stressful situations and finding a way of dealing with it positively.

    Sorry - I know it's hard having to stand by, but it's also having to deal with letting go a little as well.

    Take care and I'm sure it will all be fine,

    Nina xxx

  16. I do wish I could opt out of schools using my children's results as a measure of the school's ability to teach! My children vary hugely in their abilities in different subjects, and no amount of teaching will change that potential surely?

  17. My beautiful girl turned 16 this week and on her birthday she had the second of her GCSE exams. I wanted for her to be able to have a party and a laugh and a sleepover with all her friends like we used to do. I kept all that to myself, helped with revision, took her for a chinese buffet and brought her home for an early night. Education's great and a wonderful thing for children in countries like ours where it is good and free and there are so many children in the world who can't get any at all. BUT OH to be free and wild for a moment. It is hard to see the pressure kids put themselves under these days.

  18. I agree with you about the SATS - it is so much pressure to put 11 year olds under. My 7 year old daughter is having her KS1 SATS after the half-term holiday. They are very low key about it and I get the impression that the children will barely know they're doing them, but I still wish they didn't have to do them at all.
    Good luck with it all! x

  19. Just catching up with your blog and noticed the photo on this post and I had to laugh. I remember my daughter's sats, when I bought a bottle of Bach's Rescue Remedy to calm her nerves, but she never used it. I put in in my handbag for 'emergencies' and it's still in there, unopened, 12 years later!