Young People are not just exam grades!

I wholeheartedly agree with the article in the TES whose heading states: “The government’s education policy is an ‘assault on childhood’, says children’s author Meg Rosoff “.  Here is the link to the article: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/governments-education-policy-assault-childhood-says-childrens-author.

Author Meg Rosoff won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden at the end of May and attacked the government’s over-focus on exams.  The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature.  She states “I meet these children all the time. Sometimes they get great marks on their exams. And sometimes they cut themselves with razors, starve themselves, suffer depression and anxiety.”   In her speech she also stressed the importance of imagination.

This concurs with what I experience when counselling young people – they are either absolutely convinced that if they don’t achieve great exam grades then they have failed – but the paradox is, that as perfectionists their marks are never good enough – they move the goalposts to a new level.  Or they feel they cannot meet what is clearly expected of them (because they know what their target grades are all the time) and they turn to some form of self harm.  Either way, as Meg Rosoff says in this article “learning has become joyless”.

And this would appear to be true for both teachers and students.  Teachers are leaving the profession or moving abroad.  Many teachers are stressed beyond measure and working ridiculously long hours per week just to keep up with the burden of paperwork.  I hear so often – “I enjoy teaching, but I hate all the bureaucracy and can’t keep up with all the marking, testing, planning and ever changing schemes of work”. Young people are stuck in the system until they have taken all their tests and exams and can leave.

As humans we are so much more than our academic achievements – I wonder when the government will stop this relentless focus on a soulless curriculum that is our education system and allow back some spontaneity, creativity, choice, focus on emotional wellbeing and, heaven forbid – enjoyment?


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