Taking Stock - July 21, 2014

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School, back in my youth, was a pretty straightforward affair.

The progress of your education was measured by what you learned – nothing less, nothing more.

If you happened to catch the headlines last week you’ll probably know that things really have changed.

For those not in the know I’ll explain.

The headteacher of a primary school out in the deep dark depths of east Lancashire sent out a letter with her pupils’ Key Stage Two (that’s junior school to you and me) test results.

The tone of the letter was along the lines of ‘here’s your test results but they don’t really mean anything because the people who set and mark them don’t know you’.

That is, as far as I’m concerned, a load of stuff and nonsense. This headteacher’s letter, in a good part copied and pasted from elsewhere on the internet, praised pupils for being 
good friends, for being 
carers at home and for 
their imaginations.

All admirable traits but, I’m afraid, very much also-rans in the grand scheme of life.

School, particularly for young children, should be about putting in place the basics – the building blocks of education, reading, writing and maths.

My daughter’s school report arrived this week and the first thing I looked for was her performance in these key subjects.

After all, if I want to know how she’s doing making friends I’ll tot up the party invites on the fridge.

Last week another story was carried by the local news about another primary school which has banned packed lunches.

Parents were, it seems, totally out of touch with the basics of healthy eating –putting a packet of crisps in some lunchboxes every day.

I did chuckle as, during the headteacher’s speech on healthy eating, the package cut away to the dinner ladies, serving up reformed chicken dinosaurs, hash browns and baked beans.

I’m not sure it will make a jot of difference to the health of pupils but I’m sure they’ll get plenty of time to work on their friendship and sharing skills as they queue up.

And that can only be a good thing, freeing up time in the classroom for real learning.