Is education only ever about scores?

“O that’s a shame!” was the response to my first child’s birth date.

It was on the first of September you see. The cut off date by which the system decides a child is of suitable age to start their education – or rather start school which is another matter all together.

Her birth date would mean that she would always be the eldest in the class. But also meant that she would have to ‘wait’ a whole year longer to begin this educating process than my friend’s child who was born in August. He was always the youngest. And instead of ‘waiting’ as everyone put it, was never ready for the stages he was propelled towards.

I was thrilled we had our child at home another year. It meant she was more mature, more confident, more able to cope with the dross schools throws at kids. In the end of course we decided it wasn’t worth the dross and home educated and continued with the learning kind of life we’d given her before. In other words gave our kids activities appropriate to their ability, needs and interests with no relation to scores.

Tests and scores never had anything to do with it our children’s education. As they shouldn’t. But sadly, it seems scores are more important than needs which then requires all kinds of crazy strategies just so kids can be made to fit…see this article from the BBC News:

Summer-born pupils ‘should have exam scores boosted’

It is a massive problem and fault with the system.

There is a huge gap between the development of a child like mine who had a whole extra year to mature and build confidence and understanding, and a child like my friend’s who was that year younger.

But maybe if we educated differently, looked at education differently and took the emphasis off results and educated for personal development’s sake – without testing – the problem wouldn’t arise. For it is only a problem in school with the ridiculous way they test and score kids throughout their lives.

In the home education community, where children are educated as individuals, some never being tested at all even though they may be keeping a parallel with the work their school peers are doing, the problem doesn’t exist. Children are educated to their needs and ability at the time – not their age.

Ironically, what usually happens is they all end up at the same place academically at roughly the same age as school kids anyway – without the stress of having been constantly measured by all those tests and scores throughout their education.

Which just goes to show how little we need them.

And another good reason to home educate!

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8 thoughts on “Is education only ever about scores?

  1. Absolutely spot on! It’s known that boys especially suffer from this as the younger boys are always set up in competition with older boys in their classes with whom they can’t possible win. There is a direct correlation for boys who are youngest in the year and low self esteem! Really enjoyed the blog and thoughtful responses too 🙂

  2. Thank you for writing this. Sometimes i feel as though i am the only person who feels that age does have an impact at school. The Aug 31st cut off is just so arbitrary but has a massive impact. With a daughter who is August born, i am feeling the pressure. I cannot believe that come this September merely 2 weeks after she turns 4, she will be expected to start school more or less full time whereas some of her peers have been doing just mornings or no school at all for 9 to 12 months since they turned four! It seems crazy. Of course, i know that none of this is compulsory and that we aren’t answerable to anyone until the term after she turns five but i’m still amazed that this is reality for most of our small children. Why are most parents so accepting? Is this because they put total trust in the school? I too am a teacher (secondary) and I’m in the middle of reading your book. I am really really struggling to decide between home ed or school. I swing between the two daily! How do i know what is the right decision for our family and what if i get it wrong!

    Just one other thought. I think birth position also has an impact. An oldest child who is also a summer baby might be further disadvantaged as she has younger siblings at home. My daughter is socially younger than her three years as her daily playmates are her 2 yr old and 6 month old sisters. We recently had a playdate with one of her ‘school’ friends who is an October birthday (i.e. was born before my daughter was even conceived even though they are in the same year at school!!!) and who is also a second born. She has a six year old sister and therefore seems socially so much older than my daughter. To expose my daughter to the world of ‘best friends forever’ and pop music that is meant for older children just seems so sad. She has plenty of time to grow up. Unless you HE, can you protect your children from these external influences? Probably not. Or am i just being an overprotective mummy?

    • Thank you so much for your comment Rachel. You’re so right, that year, when they’re little, does make a huge difference – and their place in the family. I think many parents feel reluctant to expose their kids to the kind of culture you’re describing via school which is another reason for them choosing to home educate. They wish to promote a more balanced culture not based on one-up-man-ship or materialism! The home ed community has a very different feel to it, one of mutual support, encouragement and wider values. Like you – I can never understand why parents are so accepting, but then many simply want their child ‘minded’ and aren’t too worried about the manner in which that happens – it certainly isn’t education much of the time! The decision is a hard one to make but I always look at it this way; no decision has to be made for life! And as for it being the ‘wrong’ one, it never is really because whatever doesn’t work you can review and change until you feel a way forward that does work for you and your family. The beauty of home ed is that you can review your approaches constantly – as you would do in any walks of life! It’s not a decision we ever regretted, or any of the HE families we worked with!

  3. As a Mother of sons born in August, I can totally relate to this Ross. Add in the factor of dyslexia and the problem becomes compounded!
    Now my sons are flourishing in adult education, aged only 16 and totally love the environment. As one son declared on Wednesday…
    “Everyone in our class is there, because they want to learn – if only school could have been like that”

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