Blaise Tapp: Keep calm and carry on in testing times

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In the face of the drudge and nonsense which passes as everyday life, there are always a group of people guaranteed to remind us taxpaying grown ups what it’s really all about.

I have long described parenthood as being rather like the opening beach sequence of the classic war film Saving Private Ryan – unrelenting chaos and carnage, except it lasts years rather than 30 minutes.

But the good bits about having children clearly outweigh the tears, snot and melodrama even when you are constantly the butt of their ‘jokes’. A recent routine last minute dash to the school gates was interrupted by the question: “Daddy…were you born 1938?” and just as I was about to put her straight I noticed the trace of a smirk, seconds before she scooted off, leaving me panting in her wake.

Much is being made of Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign, which encourages parents of six and seven-year-olds to keep their youngsters at home tomorrow, in protest at the Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs tests, which have already caused a stir – particularly from those who don’t know their subjunctive form from subordinating and coordinating conjunctions – which is pretty much everyone.

Opponents of these souped up tests, which have already been mired in controversy after one of this year’s papers was accidently posted online, argue that they turn our schools into exam factories and heap needless pressure on young minds.

The exams have prompted some headteachers’ groups to contact parents via letters to outline their concerns.

As a parent of a Year 2 pupil I can sympathise with sentiments of those who would resist pushing little ones too far, too soon but I have no intention of joining this ‘strike’ because of the trust I have in our teachers not to let any undue pressure affect my child. While I am slightly uneasy that kids so young have to tackle questions which would easily tie me in knots, exams are a fact of life and something we all have to face sooner or later.

There are plenty who will disagree with me, and will refer me back to the guiding principle of their argument, which is that children should be allowed to worry only about who will play Hermione in the playtime reenactment of Harry Potter and that exams can wait until both puberty and The Smiths have been discovered.

But sometimes you can only judge a situation on your own experience and it has barely been mentioned in our house which I am keen to maintain. I am firm believer that all children are gifted in their own special way and tests are one way of further discovering where they have potential.

I am confident that as long as little fuss as possible is made about the exams, my child won’t feel any pressure and will tackle her work with her usual youthful gusto which is all a parent of a six-year-old can ask for.

This is the best way I can assist a kid to continue being a kid.