Is writing being sidelined?

Am I being overly pessimistic by the lack of any mention of writing in the government materials for next year’s Sats?

I have just watched the newly released video detailing the changes to tests for Years 2 and 6 and it all seems very depressing. 6 and 7 year olds are going to be given a decontextualised grammar and spelling test and there is no assessment of how well they can actually write. At KS 2, the grammar test is going to focus on the children’s understanding of grammatical terms, not how well they use them, just that they can remember what each wretched thing is.

The move to a score for testing seems to be the death knell of any proper assessment of children’s writing to me. You can’t give a score out of a 100 to a piece of writing and I think that increasingly, the teacher assessment of writing will be devalued and the only thing that will matter will be their score in the grammar test. No one is going to care that a child has a fantastic imagination and can use words to create a real picture in the reader’s mind. All that will be important is they know what the past progressive tense is and can spell a range of words that they have never actually used!

I had a child who scored really well in the last grammar test with a high level and yet his own writing was barely level 4 as he could not apply the rules that he knew. Then there were other children who wrote really well but did not do well in the grammar due to dyslexia affecting their spelling score. Interestingly, the government still seem to have no idea of how teachers are supposed to assess children’s work.

Which test more accurately reflects a child’s ability to write? A grammar and spelling test or an assessment based on a bank of work? A poor speller can get their work spell checked, MS word sorts out your grammatical errors but I’m not aware that there is a programme for turning a bit of boring writing into a fantastic piece of work.

Increasingly I feel that the things that I value in education are being sidelined and we are being pushed to educate a class set of robots.

Luckily, children are not robots and so the joy of actually teaching a class of children still remains the reason that despite everything I love my job.

I can only hope that the tide will turn at some point and the powers that be will recognise the value of creativity, imagination and flair. It isn’t going to be any time soon though.