Pressure in the education system

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Were children under so much pressure ion the old days? Photo credit below.

Are you concerned about the amount of pressure children are put under in the education system? It’s something I have previously written about, although with only one young child at school the pressure isn’t too bad at this stage.

I do, however, have concerns about what the future holds. I often hear from parents with older children who are unable to do their offspring’s homework. I also know that when my wife and I were looking at schools for our eldest, the headteachers often seemed obsessed with league tables instead of the children’s well being.

We ruled out one school largely on the fact the headteacher rambled on and on about league tables. He informed us how we’d be “lucky” if our child got a place there. Other way round sweet cheeks, you’d be lucky to educate our daughter.

Yes, we want our children to go to good successful schools in the upper half of the league tables. Up to a certain point, these things are important. If I think about my own schooling, in particular my secondary school, I had some horrendous teachers. They’d been in the system for years, before the introduction of proper school regulation. They were incapable, in fact often uninterested, in inspiring and nurturing young minds.

That said, my wife and I want our kids to be nurtured and to develop academically, but at their own pace. We want them to learn about maths and science and develop advanced reading and writing skills. We also want them to build on skills they’re learning at home. We want them to improve their social skills, make friends and learn how to manage relationships. Basically, we want them to have a childhood. I think my own experiences of the education system go a long way to influencing what we desire for our daughters.

I am not alone. Education expert, consultant, trainer and author Sue Cowley has expressed major concerns about the English education system. She’s written an open letter on her blog in support of the Save Childhood Movement’s Too Much Too Soon campaign. Sue is calling for parents and anyone else with an interest in this issue to sign it.

It’s not a UN resolution, it is simply a way to register your concerns. I’ve added my name, will you?


Super Busy Mum


Photo credit: Irving Rushinow. Reproduced under Creative commons agreement. For further information on Creative Commons and links to the various licences, see my Disclosure Page.

11 thoughts on “Pressure in the education system”

  1. Really interesting post and, as a parent of three school age kids (plus a former school governor), something I think about a lot! Who cares about league tables when your child is only 4? You just want them to be happy.
    I’m happy with the amount of pressure and homework my younger kids get – I think the primary school gets the balance just right. All of the teachers are friendly, caring and inspiring too.
    As to my eldest? It’s so much harder to keep track of what’s happening at secondary school. Let’s just say he’s not under any pressure! Maybe I’d like him to be under a bit more – he sails under the radar a bit and gets away with not doing very much.

    1. That’s a fascinating comment Sarah. I’ve heard of loads of secondary school kids under immense pressure so it’s interesting to hear the reverse is also true. Thanks for commenting.

  2. i am constantly worrying about JR at school in fact I cried virtually non stop every night during the 6 weeks holiday about the fact he was going to be in year 1 this year and would have to sit at a desk all day, not my idea of a childhood any 5/6 year old should have at all.
    I’m not happy with the amount of homework he’s getting either 2 worksheets every night plus 2 reading books, so much so I’ve stopped him doing some of the worksheets as it seems the more they do the more they send. He’s not 6 yet 6 hours of learning is enough each day I think!

    1. I have to say that sounds like an awful lot of homework. Is the school an academy per chance? I’m led to believe they’re the worst for pressuring children (and teachers).

  3. As a former nursery and primary school teacher I know what pressures are put on teachers and schools to jump through all the attainment hoops where academia is more important the social and emotional development. My little one will be starting school next year and I will be asking difficult questions as we visit potential schools for her.

    I worry greatly about children being pushed too far and too soon, which is why I no longer teach.

    1. Lucy, you make a very good point. I can but imagine what pressure teachers are put under. It must be equally tough for them.

  4. I agree totally. A league table is not really a way of telling how good a school is. Some schools have children who enter at a very low baseline and then those kids make fantastic progress, without necessarily getting the level 4. This is value added, but is not recognised in the same way Sats results are. Similarly, the focus on Sats can often write off the sporty, creative kids who are not academic.
    As a parent I worry and despair for the current system.


  5. I remember being called into the teacher, like a naughty school girl because me recently turned 4 year old couldn’t spell his own name.The implication was that he was already a failure in the education system and that I had failed him. I firmly believe that children go into education too young and the pressure to succeed is driven by league tables not by what is best for the child. (my son is now happily exactly where he should be and in a new school that nurtures instead of pressurises) #mmwbh

  6. Certainly something to think about. I think you really need to think about the individual child though when weighing up schools. My 7 year old is very bright and already bored at school, and fed up of being the bright one, he actually said he wished he wasn’t so clever. What I am trying to say is sometimes pressure to fit in is also a consideration – and if that means helping him to go to a school that makes him feel less pressured to be someone he’s not to fit in then so be it.

    Hope that makes sense.

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