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Thought For The Day - The Reverend Lucy Winkett - 18/07/2013

Thought For The Day

New tests have been announced this week for 11 year olds and a new national league table for 5 year olds is being suggested by the government as the latest initiatives to raise educational standards across the board. With some differences of emphasis, the main political parties agree on education policy, embracing the model of academies with a strong focus on standards and attainment.
The tests announced yesterday once again bring into focus fundamental questions about the purpose of our education system. The impulse to measure is welcome in a society that wants to take seriously the progress a child makes from one year to the next, but there is an inherent danger where this way of evaluating people is so dominant; and that is, that what we can’t explain or measure is seen as necessarily less valuable than what we can. We have to work harder to resist cynicism, we have to work harder not just to teach to the test.
How do we instil confidence in our children that encourages them to be all that they can be, that takes seriously the external assessment of others such as exam boards but lets them know they don’t have to be defined by it?
What would national standards look like for assessing the level of curiosity in a child, the depth of empathy for people in different circumstances or commitment to the common good? It is these young people who will be staffing our care homes, becoming ward sisters or surgeons or oil executives or police commissioners or bankers. Debating what kind of education we have now will necessarily affect the agenda for the Today programme in 10 and 20 years time...

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3 minutes