Over the last term, Year 6 and Year 2 have been sitting their SATs (Statutory Assessment Tests), and I could not have been prouder of the way in which they approached them. The children were calm and all aspired to do their very best.
While formal testing has a place in assessing how our children are learning and the progress they make, it certainly does not give a full picture of a whole child. It is a sad indictment that for children and for parents in these year groups, that SATs tests can hold such a significant place in their experience of the learning that takes place in that year.
We all know as adults that we have different interests, strengths and things we find challenging. It is so important to avoid labelling and reinforcing the idea that there are those who can and those who can’t succeed in life. Learning is so much more than having to prove that a child can achieve a certain pass threshold as a measure of their success.
Spending time with children in their classroom, playground and lunch hall, it is clear that from an early age, children are extremely creative in their thinking and more than happy to share their wonderful thoughts and ideas. They have different ways of thinking and problem solving that we should listen to, develop and foster. This should be at the centre of how we educate our children. I worry that such a focus on formal testing has the potential to knock this out of them; that children are taught there is a right way to think and a wrong way. Learning should not be this binary or two-dimensional.
Creativity and creative thinking is paramount. If you do an internet search for the name Ken Robinson you will find many, many articles and videos about the importance of creativity in education. I wholeheartedly agree with his line of argument.
Ken Robinson defines creativity as the process of having ‘original ideas that have value’. He argues that it is a dynamic process that involves making new connections and crossing disciplines. He says that often, what you end up with, is not what you had in mind when you started.
Seeing children learn and collaborating in the Forest School Area and in the allotments this term has been lovely. Listening to their conversations, there is some very creative and rich learning at play. They are problem solving, they are negotiating, they are learning to make critical judgments about problems they are faced with. Children start to apply knowledge and skills they have learnt in other subject areas, for example science, maths and English. The results are staggering. Not only in terms of the various vegetables and fruit being grown, but more so the sense of pride the children feel and the impact this has on self-esteem and behaviour.
Children at Coleridge are provided with many opportunities to develop an appetite for discovery in the hope that this will further their motivation and ambition, nurturing their ability to think independently and creatively.
I know that when we say goodbye to Year 6 at the end of this academic year, they will be leaving not just with a “score”, but with a very specific set of skills and an approach to life and learning that will set them up to succeed in whatever they decide to do in the future.