My daughter came home from school today crying. It was the first day back after Christmas and she was upset about not doing well in a piece of English work. What is it about our education system in the UK. I have no complaints with my daughters’ school or the teacher there whatsoever. My issue is with the Department for Education and therefore what follows is an open letter to the Rt. Hon. Damien Hinds MP – the Secretary of State for Education.
Dear Mr Hinds
Today is the first day back at school for our children after a wonderful Christmas break. It should have been a lovely day for our primary school age daughters to get back into the swing of things and chat with friends about Christmas. But that’s not what happened at all.
I sent my wife a text asking how the first day back had gone. I didn’t get a response by text, she called. It hadn’t gone at all well for our 8-year-old in year 4. Her class had been given some English worksheets and she hadn’t done well when they were marked. In fact, she burst into tears on the way home while explaining to her mummy what had happened.
We’re not even talking about a test, formal or informal here. Just a piece of work everyday work. After two weeks off school how the heck has she managed to get so highly strung about that on day one?
Could you explain why we have an education system in the UK that is so hell-bent on continuously raising the bar to the point of breaking children? I see the ridiculous pressure upon our secondary school age daughters (to the point we had to move them to another school earlier this year), but this pressure brought tears about school work to the eyes of an 8-year-old girl. Tears about falling out with friends are acceptable but tears about test results are not. It’s far from acceptable. I dread to think what it will be like in two years when she actually takes her SATs.
I must stress that I am not blaming her teacher, nor the school or the parent school in the federation. After all, it’s these very schools and teachers who are also under incredible pressure to deliver results in this curriculum. A curriculum that is forever bringing skill-sets to younger and younger children. At the rate we’re going in this country there will be an expectation that children can do their 12-times-table by the time they start school.
The blame, I believe, is firmly on you, your government and the education policy you are delivering. When you developed this policy did the wellbeing and welfare of the children in our schools ever cross your mind? This is also a system where you think that deprioritising the arts subjects in primary education too. Who thought that was also a good idea? You seem to view children as a homogeneous blend of robots that should all be alike. But children aren’t all alike, are they? Why not have a curriculum that allows our children not just to learn new skills but also find those that they have a natural ability for and enjoy?
Let me tell you this. I will not allow education, GCSE or A-level results define who my children are or what they become. I have their back and I will be there to guide them through. Having the right education, of course, is important. But we are all on a continuous journey of education through life too. So to help her feel a bit better about her day it ended with a Creme Egg as a treat for trying. Because trying your best is what matters, not the results.
Dave Pearson – The Yorkshire Dad of 4