Entrance to a competitive school takes preparation of a rigour which you and your child need to be ready for.
In September 2019, four and five-year-old children in nearly 10,000 primary schools (about half the primary schools in England) participated in a pilot scheme for the new reception baseline assessment (RBA). The assessment was intended to be a ’20-minute check of language and ability to count’ that will give an indication of a child’s development when they first start school. The results were be utilised to measure a child’s progress over the years (leading up to KS2 tests when they are 11).
However the announcement of the controversial test provoked strong reactions. A group of parents even petitioned the High Court for a judicial review of the process. Experts have expressed concerns that the tests will place undue pressure on young children, causing distress in the short-term; and that there will be long-term impacts on their education ‘because of schools potentially using the feedback from the assessment to label or stream children at such a young age’. For parents, this may also cast concerns over whether going through other assessments, such as the 11 plus, is right for their child.
Though last week the judge ruled against a hearing to examine the government’s decision to proceed with the reception baseline assessment, Lisa Richardson, one of the solicitors representing the families, commented that ‘the case has shone a light on important issues in relation to the reception baseline assessment of children and allowed these to be examined. We hope the government will ensure it takes into account our clients’ concerns about the welfare of the young children at the heart of this process in the future development of the scheme.’
Whatever the outcome of these new tests, experts are now asking the question: should we be testing children at an early age – and how much pressure is too much pressure (in any arena – from exams to extracurricular activities)? Whilst setting goals and getting used to taking exams can be healthy, feeling burdened by high expectations can be harmful for children.
Studies have shown that children who feel pressured can experience a range of symptoms, including (but not limited to):
It’s also worth remembering that piling the pressure on can lead to a student not wishing to participate at all. If the goal is only to be ‘number one’, it can take the pleasure out of the activity, leading to a sense of indifference. This is unfortunate, as it means that the student in question will not benefit from the long-term effects of that activity (playing in an orchestra despite not getting the solo, for example, will still enhance their skills – but if they give up because they aren’t picked out from the crowd, ultimately they will miss out on improving their ability to play their chosen instrument).
Many of us are perfectionists – and that’s no bad thing. However, in order to ensure that children feel encouraged (rather than pressured), sometimes we have to let go of that perfectionism. The opportunity to fail, to try again and learn from previous failures, is arguably as important as meeting every challenge.
Here are some tips for setting you – and your child – up for success in the scholastic arena and beyond.
At Mentor Education we focus not only on academic excellence, but also overall wellbeing. Our experienced tutors are on hand to guide your child through their school careers, ensuring that they feel confident, passionate about their studies, and fully-equipped to do their best.
Find out how Mentor can help you support you and your child as you approach the school entrance exams. Get in touch today.
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