Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Should children be forced to re-sit a year?

Applogies for fewer blogs recently but as every parent knows those last few days of the summer holiday can be rather full on.

Back at the school gate today I spoke to mothers about the Conservative suggestion that if a child fails its final year at primary school they should retake the last year. We already know that 4 out of 10 children are not reaching basic standards by the age of 11. Last week we heard news that standards for 7 year olds also appear to also be dropping.

The overwhelming reaction from parents I spoke to on the proposal for "retakes" was positive.

One teacher I spoke to went on to explain the boredom that many first year secondary school pupils face when they have to "waste a year waiting for others to catch up". She agreed that some children who are capable of doing better but not really trying may benefit from this additional pressure. She also pointed out that some pupils will always struggle for various reasons. They also need to be cared for - but there are fewer options available with fewer special needs schools.

Over the summer I spoke to French teenagers. Pupils in France are often made to "redouble" a year. It was clear that these teenagers didn't want to get left behind by their friends. They said the threat of retaking a year spurs them on. It also allows a pupil who has been unwell or missed school for other reasons the chance to catch up. I was impressed.

I like this policy - whats your view?


Anonymous said...

The idea of summer schools is good but as usual we are forgetting a certain type of child. Just how can retaking the year work for children that say get a Level 5 in Literacy and a Level 3 in Numeracy. I would like to know how the Tories would cope with these children?

Vicky Ford said...

This issue has also been brought up with me by some teachers - i.e what about the child that is great at English but no good at maths.

Clearly the aim is to make sure that all children are given the best possible opportunity - and, for some, their opportunity in later life may be really helped by getting them extra time and help at a young age.

Teachers would need to be involved in the decisions that are not so straightforward... "trusting professionals" is one of the key things that Labour just doesn't get.