Examinations and Assessment- who are they for?

“I have heard many parents say to their children, ‘I just want you to be happy’.

They then unconsciously place upon them limiting beliefs of what they should and shouldn’t do which causes their unhappiness. When they stop the child takes over and continues to force the limiting beliefs upon themselves. It’s time to wake up.”


Jacqueline Mary Phillips


I read an article on BBC news where the Head of OFSTED warned that schools in England are focusing too much on tests and exams, rather than giving pupils a good grounding in a wide range of subjects.


"School leaders need to recognise how easy it is to focus on the performance of the school and lose sight of the pupil," she says.


I have often pondered the purpose of examinations and assessments, or more accurately, what the results from them are used for. The pass rates, the statistical analysis of who passed what and which subject and how they did, are logged and analysed from schools to OFSTED all the way to Higher Education. Please don't get me wrong here - I understand the importance of fairness and consistency and the auditing process to achieve these requirements. But….


High Academic results do not give happiness


What concerns me is when these examination results become the basis of the ‘happiness’ value attached to each INDIVIDUAL child/pupil. That the higher the grade is, will somehow make the parents/teachers ‘happy’ with the children. Yes, it’s great to see pupils’ progress and achieve of course it is. But I have seen too many students who end up doing courses their parents want them to do or who feel under pressure to keep churning out high grades even though their heart may not be in that area of study.


What makes one child happy will not be the same for everyone as ALL children are unique and individual. We know of this as adults as everyone is different which makes us interesting. What is a joy to one e.g. playing football may be a complete put off to another. Solving complex maths problems may be a joy for one child but if another child does NOT enjoy maths it will not be a pleasure for them.


Before the days of electronic submissions, I saw some beautifully illustrated scientific reports submitted by students with A* in Art A’ levels. When asked why they did not pursue that subject they all said “…Ah my parents said I will not be able to find a decent job afterwards and I wanted to make them happy…”


We need artists, scientists, engineers and nurses as well as lollypop ladies, bakers and fire fighters. We need a variety of people to make this world work. When we decide to question our beliefs through the SEJ, surely “You are responsible for my happiness” is NOT then something we would place upon another …The SEJ empowers us to find our own happiness, to reach our full potential; and teaching that to children and young adults would truly empower them for life.


Dr M Howard-Kishi

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