Rhys Clarke

Naked Politics Blogger

I have long been coming round to the opinion-wildly unpopular with people from my generation, I should add-that Jeremy Corbyn and his particular brand of new Lefties that have subverted the old New Labour establishment (it’s not as confusing as it sounds, I promise!) are driven entirely by the principle of “Wouldn’t it be nice if…”

“Wouldn’t it be nice if poverty wasn’t a thing?” cry the Corbynites. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just ignore this whole Brexit fiasco?” plead the Corbynites, a rather strange request from followers of a man who has been as historically critical of the EU as Mr Corbyn but who am I to judge?

Now, the leader of the Labour Party has pledged to scrap formal tests in Primary schools throughout England known as SAT’s. This is not the first time that the Labour party has demonstrated a peculiar aversion to the notion of testing a child’s intelligence through examinations. On the 7th June, 2017 the Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel released an especially nauseating piece of propaganda wherein the Eleven-plus system was likened to segregation by a decidedly middle class sounding nineteen year old girl. To propose scrapping the SAT examinations entirely is definitely a step up from simple bourgeois whining that I have come to expect from supporters of Corbyn.SAT-study-guide

I understand that so far I have taken on a rather harsh and perhaps even unnecessarily provocative tone and for that I shall apologise. I will do try to reign myself in from here on. I do, jokes aside, have some degree of sympathy for at least the motivations behind this pledge. Exams are difficult and, more often than not, the students find the pressure to perform well overwhelming.

Indeed, if you will permit me to go on a little tangent about myself, when I consider the process of taking an English Exam compared to writing my PI (we’re talking about A-Level here, the Government isn’t making seven year olds do this sort of thing!) the latter felt far more beneficial than the former. I had the freedom to engage in my own research (a useful preparation for University) at my own pace, whilst keeping enough time aside to refine what I had written. Exams, on the other hand, usually degenerate into a desperate attempt by the student to memorise a legion of quotes for a two to three hour exam that gives the student nothing but hand cramps and migraines.

With that being said, I’m still not convinced that scrapping SAT’s is the answer to children who struggle with stress, nor do I believe that such a course of action would assist schools with congested classrooms or a lack of funding. The problem I have with Corbyn’s admittedly nice sounding platitude that schools must “prepare children for life, not just exams”, the question then arises as to how schools will assess students at all?SAT-child-exam

One teacher, Solomon Kingsnorth, pointed out that in the absence of SAT’s, most would  probably culminate in a reliance of “teacher’s own assessments to measure children’s progress and attainment”. A rather worrying thought, considering the subjectivity of teacher’s judgements. Kingsnorth himself provides a link to an article regarding the 2017 Freedom of Information request that revealed two thirds of moderators incorrectly assessed pupil’s work when tested earlier that year.

To summarise, while the SAT system (an examinations as a whole) are certainly far from perfect, the recent pledge by Jeremy Corbyn seems to convey an extraordinary level of wishful thinking, cloaked in good intentions and platitudes. It is not enough to oppose an existing system. Anyone can do that. One must put forward a coherent and well thought out replacement, something far more difficult and all the more important because of it.

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Last Update: April 29, 2019