Herbert Spencer was right
"Children all learn at different speeds".
How many times in these politically correct days have we heard those words?
"Don't worry if the other parents are saying that their child is already reading and yours isn't interested in books; all children will get there eventually". (Wherever 'there' is!).
I was talking to a teacher the other day about my concerns over certain pupils lack of basic skills and what were we able to do to help. After all, when you drop your child off at school, you fully expect them to be getting all the help they need in order to learn whatever it is they require to get into a desirable secondary school and from there, to enter the job market in an advantageous position.
What I was told pretty much boiled down to, 'not much'. It seems that unfortunately, if a pupil isn't on target to do well by then end of Year 5, then the attention of the school 'must turn' to children that are expected to do well.
"Eh? How does that work then?" I enquired.
She explained how the SAT's and Ofsted inspections were to blame. Consecutive governments (in their infinite wisdom), deem a school that does not meet a minimum target of (very high) grades as set by the government, to be a "failing" school and graded appropriately. As you are no doubt aware, these grades are published nationally in the form of league tables. Governments tick off the school governors, the governors tick off the Headteacher, the Headteacher ticks off the teachers and the teachers tick off nobody - they are the end of the line.
So what happens?
Teachers realise that in order to avoid all this telling off, filtering from Downing Street to their classrooms, they have to focus on the children that will do well; it really is the survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, in the wake of the strong learners are the many who just don't get equivalent fractions; those who just don't know where to put their full stops and capital letters.
As a parent though, I can't help but feel slightly horrified by this set up. I mean, M and I both spend several hours each week reading with our children, having them (well, Joseph at the moment) read to us, working on writing, going through maths questions etc but I know for a fact that many of the children at school don't have anyone to go through their work with them; no-one to push them to achieve, to help them, to nurture them.
So if they're not getting the support at home and the schools can't afford to spare the time to bring them fully up to speed (which is the bottom line, let's face it), it would seem that their young lives are over before they've really started! If they walk out of primary school with vital knowledge missing, they sure ain't gonna be able to really catch up in secondary - I'm talking about the real basic building blocks of education.
Have you got children? Make sure you read to them, every day, hear them read to you, sit and go through their maths even if it isn't your strong point. Do whatever it takes to support their learning. On a daily basis I see what a busy and demanding day they have at school and they're only 4, 5, 6 .... 8, 9, 10 years old!!
Man, who'd be a kid again??