It seems the latest Government initiative is to rank primary school children into ability bands according to performance in national tests at age 11. In this way, parents might get a better idea of their child’s academic potential compared with their peers, raising attainment by challenging and stretching their capabilities.
The idea seems unpopular amongst teachers; however I am not so sure.
I have certainly come across a number of primary school parents facing the 11+ in the next couple of years who do not seem to know how bright their child is. Particularly with boys, I hear ‘his brain is in his football boots, so I am not sure if he is really stretched to achieve his true potential.’
Most primary schools offer inclusive, mixed ability, diverse learning environments where competitive experiences are limited. We hear much about gifted and talented or supporting special needs, but when do we hear about improving the attainment of the average child? Do they just tick over under the radar?
With a strong culture of tutoring children for Bucks grammar schools, it might help parents be more realistic in their secondary school ambitions, if they had better guidance as to where their child sits academically within the year-group through more competition and challenging assessment. Generating greater parental trust that the primary school will recognise and realise each individual child’s potential would also help.
Yes, some children develop slower than others so this would need to be taken into account, as well as children with summer birthdays. It also seems unlikely that a short test at 11 will give a better indication of potential across all areas than teachers, who get to know children over several years.
However the concept of giving parents better feedback on their child’s potential and presenting more challenging and competitive learning environments to ensure they realise it, seems a good idea to me.