SATs are tests undertaken by young pupils in primary school, as part of the national curriculum. As of recently, the national union of teachers have expressed a strong appeal on the detrimental effects these tests are having on pupils, who are only around eleven years of age. The idea of segregating children based on their ability is seen as simply unfair; due to the fact they are arguably still kids and are slowly grasping onto their own learning pathway. The tests have even been remarked as “the monster stalking our schools”, which emphasises how the tests act as a huge burden not only on the student but also the teacher, who is more than familiar with the effects it is having on their pupils. A recent conference at the National Union of Teachers supported a proposal to boycott sats, with a debate expected the following Monday.
A former teacher from Lancaster, Ms Collingwood, has had a first-hand experience on the effect these tests have had on her pupils with many even crying, due to an increase in hardness of the test which led to 47% on pupils failing. The emotional effect is simply unacceptable and high stress levels especially at such a young age can easily be linked to mental illnesses such as depression later on in life. She personally believed that the National Union of Teachers needed “to bring down the whole stinking edifice”, of the sats. Jessica Edwards, who believes sats need to be abolished, commented that; “sats in our schools is damaging to children and their education, damaging to the self-esteem and mental health and all the things that they need to succeed as they go through their education”. Further on she mentioned, “we all know that last year’s tests were the worst they ever had”… “They saw huge numbers of our children not ‘failing’ as they were labelled but being failed by the assessments that they undertook”.
The government has taken thought into scrapping sats but if any action is undertaken it won’t be until 2020, leaving the miserable burden on-going for over 3 years. The Department for Education believes that tests should not cause stress upon pupils but it is important that parents are aware if their children are leaving primary school with adequate scores in English and maths. To clarify the uncertainty a spokeswomen from the Department for Education addressed that; “We want a long-term, stable and proportionate system for primary assessment that measures the progress that children make throughout their time at primary school fairly and accurately, one that recognises teachers' professionalism in assessing their pupils and which does not impose a disproportionate burden”. She also commented, "We have worked with the teaching profession on how best to establish this and we are currently consulting on a number of proposals."
The National Union of Teacher’s secretary, Kevin Courtney claimed that teachers had marked the system as ‘broken’ and have only been waiting until the time it ended. "Primary education should be a time in children's lives when they develop a love of learning, not a fear and dread of failure. He then commented; "Drilling within a narrow set of disciplines and expectations is taking the joy out of learning and much of it is of questionable educational value”…"Children are being put under unnecessary stress and teachers' workload is heavily impacted upon”. Whilst it is important to consolidate a pupil’s knowledge through tests it is just as important the mental well-being of the child is not put under enormous amount of pressure especially at such a very young age.
This week the former chancellor Phillip Hammond; has unleashed plans to provide a transportation service for up to 15 miles for new pupils on free school meals, who attend a grammar school. This scheme would cost up to £5,000 a year per pupil, with extremely high costs, come cuts and as of last year disadvantaged/disabled pupils were deprived with a lower budget. The aim of this scheme is to eliminate the social barrier portrayed by selective education, hence why the government is willing to invest £5 million a year as funding into the transportation costs. Approximately 1,000 to 1,500 pupils are expected to benefit from this funding and transports costs in parliament are expected to rise to £20 million. Hammond commented on his reasons for suggesting this scheme; ““We recognize that for many parents the cost of travel can be a barrier to exercising that choice”. In order to enhance the support of his argument he mentioned, ““Pupils typically travel three times as far to attend selective schools, so we will extend free school transport to include all children on free school meals who attend a selective school because we are resolved that talent alone should determine the opportunities a child enjoys”. However, labour believe that Hammond has not taken into account that support for disadvantaged students provided to local councils has been slashed by £7 million a year. In fact an ombudsman reported a 63% of referrals were based on serious cases that involved in transportation to school, as 261 complaints were made, prior to the year before only being 160 complaints.
There have been many incidents of transportation inconveniences which have been shared publicly. One situation involved a mother whose middle daughter was the only one to receive transportation support from the local council and annoying funding for the other daughters were denied. Another situation consisted of a student with autism, losing his transport funding, resulting him having to walk dangerous and long distances just to travel to school. Angela Rayner, Labor's shadow education secretary out spoke that, ““The local school bus is now being replaced by the grammar school Uber. But when they are breaking their promise to protect school funding and heads are facing the worst cuts in a generation, it’s unbelievable that they think ‘cash for cabs’ is a good use of money”. Rayner also believes that many other pupils who are not disadvantaged are still faced with the same problem; “While we’re paying taxes for taxis, disabled teenagers are being left to fend for themselves and other kids are forced to change school for lack of transport”. “If this idea is the best that [education secretary] Justine Greening can come up with then she’s the one who should be getting a taxi for one”. Furthermore, a former spokesperson from ‘the department of education’ claimed, “Thousands of pupils on free school meals and other children from low income families will benefit from this new measure, removing the barrier that high transport costs can present. We will be working with selective schools and local authorities to provide this free transport, building on the service local authorities already provide to low income families attending other schools. Free school transport for pupils from low-income families has stayed in line with the numbers entitled to the service”. Overall this scheme seems fairly efficient but the fact cuts have been made from major sectors may be worrying to many low income and disadvantaged students.
For years, a social divide has been illustrated through the affordability of tuition fees in the UK. The education of an individual acts as a backbone for their employability and the invaluable knowledge possessed. Traditionally, university was directed towards middle and upper class students, who could afford the price of a degree, in order to keep the family title consistent through the generations. However, lower class students, commonly avoided university, enrolling straight into labourers jobs, to maintain a sustainable living standard for their household.
The permutation in the education system, has allowed a wider audience of students from any background and social class, to attend university. In fact, students whose parents did not attend university or endure benefits from the government are entitled to privileges, such as lower entrance requirements or grants. Furthermore, employers are seeking out high achievers from state schools and offering school leavers programmes, which offer a fully paid degree at a top university and permanent job afterwards.
Nevertheless, you may be wondering where it leaves everyone else. Perhaps left in debt, as tuition fees are expected to rise to a staggering £9,250 a year, even though agreements had enclosed that £9,000 a year would be the capped amount, it seems to have still been suppressed. Jo Johnson, the university minister, has supported the inflation in prices, through the hope of better quality teaching, amongst many students views this is a questionable proposition. A poll conducted by ‘isidewith’, concluded that overall 59% of people favoured scraping university tuition fees and 41% surprisingly, feel they should remain the same. The 59% believe that those from low income families should pay a reduced rate, especially if they are the first in the family to attend university. Arguably, the remaining 41% do have a fair stance, as university costs go up in accordance to a higher numbers of students each year, which correlates to a sustainably high number of resources needed.
Even though fees are seen to be a downfall, students are not required to pay any money back until they are earning over £21,000 a year, which provides students extra time to become more financially stable, before any money is taken as a repayment from their loan. Additionally, universities will have to present informative feedback on what improvements have been put forward from an increase in tuition fee. This can convey a positive side effect for employability, as this may increase due to universities challenging their rates, against other institutions, to show which one will provide the best outcome for students.
Whilst the UK struggles to control tuition fees, many other countries throughout Europe such as: Germany, Denmark, Iceland and Norway are free, with the acceptation of a small administrative fee. This leaves the UK to question, what holds them back from completely eradicating tuition fees and perhaps to cut expense on other areas of the government, such as foreign aid or military spending, if necessary.
Alternatively, apprenticeship schemes have been on the rise by 63.5%, with students discovering the benefits of earning a salary and learning at the same time. Certain youngsters may see this as an opportunity to avoid the debt of university and instead suppress themselves to a different type of education. This ironically presents the recycle of labourer’s jobs, which had similarly been the case for those who could not afford the cost of attending university in previous decades.