My 11-year-old daughter went excitedly to her new comprehensive school this week. Her first lesson was maths and the teacher greeted the children by asking them to indicate what level they had achieved in the key stage 2 national tests. Anyone below a level 4 was not asked to put their hand up. My daughter, relieved that she had a level 5, informed me that there must be some really thick people in her class as they had only got a level 3 or less. I wonder where she got that idea from?
That same school had not required the primary school to inform them what level the children had received in the national tests because, as the headteacher told me "they don't tell us anything of value" this seems an incredibly insensitive way to begin a child's secondary education.
I was to learn that this experience is not an isolated one. My partner told me that one of his mature student's children had been required in her first maths lesson to stand up while the teacher fired mental arithmetic at them. Anyone who answered correctly was allowed to sit down, those who did not remained standing. I wonder how the children who "failed" this particular test felt. Is this any way to induct our children into their secondary education or are we just being old-fashioned to believe that confidence and self-esteem are the best foundations on which to base learning?
SUE LYLE Lecturer in teacher education 20 Pant-y-Dwr Three Crosses Swansea Wales