I am joining the call for Kent County Council to suspend the Kent Test, due to take place for the current Year 5s in the first few weeks of September. We need to be aware of all the pressures facing our young people, teachers and schools at the moment; to add to anxieties with the pressure of this test only days after returning to school in September is wrong. Yesterday, my friend Rosie Duffield started the call for the suspension of the test: she is absolutely right.
Year 5s are potentially, according to government papers, the last year group to return to primary school this summer. Of course, they may not return at all, if the R (rate of infection) rises again above 1. For those boys and girls who will have been out of formal schooling for nearly 6 months to them be expected to sit a test where many of the skills and themes tested are mirrored by that in their Year 5 curriculum is completely unfair. I have parents in the community and many friends, telling me how this extra pressure for their Year 5s is just too much. Kent County Council need to make the right decision and they need to make it quickly.
So what instead?
Well, as with GCSEs and A-Levels, it could all be done by teacher assessment. After all, that’s how entrance used to be decided by some parts of Kent decades past.
Or they could delay it, until after the second peak…or the third (this is a bad plan and offers no security for anyone).
Or, why not take it as an ideal opportunity to ballot parents on finally allowing Kent to have the sort of fully comprehensive school system that is long overdue. When I moved to Kent fifteen years ago, I was honestly shocked the grammar system still existed. I would love to send my now primary-aged children to a comprehensive school, but I can’t unless I move counties and I love my area and my community and my friends and my kids’ friends and the sea too much to do that! Thousands of parents every year are put in the same bind and so, every year, thousands of parents have to engage with a system they dislike.
We deserve the chance to send our children to their local school, where all the children from their primary schools go. They should be the sort of schools which sets children by ability per subject and allows them to change sets with the end of the year exams and through examples of engaged work. We deserve the change to not have to cram our children on germ-filled buses to get them to the nearest ‘suitable’ school and then have to fork out hundreds of pounds for the privilege. We deserve the chance for all children to be able to walk or cycle to their nearby comprehensive school. In the post COVID era, that choice is not just fairer, it is safer too.