That’s the traditional view of our schools exam system, but many are questioning whether this country’s culture of testing and league tables actually works for the benefit of our young people. Our children are now the most tested in the industrialised world, with the average pupil enduring at least 70 formal tests during their school career. The pressure on parents to get their children into the best schools and universities has led to an arms race, with children spending increasing amounts of their time being drilled for exams, and schools becoming obsessed by results and league tables. In the end, what good does it all do? In international rankings Britain lags behind many other countries that don’t fetishise exams and league tables the way we do. And despite all the testing, 20% of young people in the UK leave school functionally illiterate and innumerate. We should stop the culture of the one-size-fits-all exam factory and allow our schools to foster independent and creative thinking and recognise that children are talented in different ways. As Albert Einstein said, ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’
Does regular school testing help our children to flourish or hinder their development?