Wednesday 15 May 2013

National Children's Day celebrated amidst the stress of SATs

It is perhaps appropriate that the first National Children's Day UK is being celebrated this week as 7 and 11 year olds are in the midst of their SATs, with the 11 year olds now having just sat the controversial SPAG test.

Many of those teachers and teaching assistants supervising the tests, despite their best efforts to keep things in perspective, are finding that children are stressed by them. I spoke to one Year 6 child last week who told me about waking up from a nightmare where she had been given a W (Working towards) grade rather than her expected Level 5.

National Children's Day is an initiative of the Save Childhood Movement and supported by a diverse group of organisations including  the National Trust, Play England, Play Scotland, Forestry Commission, Community Playthings, Project Wild Things and Leave Our Kids Alone.

Their website states:

  Celebrating the Rights and Freedoms of Children

Picture    "There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace." 
                                                                              -Kofi Annan

We are launching National Children's Day UK on the 15th of May and everyone is invited to get involved. This is our first year - and it will be only two weeks after the launch of the movement - so help us spread the word! You can access our banner and posters here. We then hope to make it a much bigger affair next year.

Many other countries celebrate the rights of children on the 20th of November  - the United Nations nominated day. However, we think that it is really important that British children should be able to get outside on Children's Day, into their neighbourhoods and nature, so we have chosen to hold it at the beginning of the summer.

Childhood is precious. It creates the values, mindsets and dispositions that determine our interaction with the world around us for the rest of our lives. Children, therefore, have one very special right - and that is the ability to be able to develop, naturally and happily, to their full potential. National Children's Day UK is dedicated to helping ensure that this can happen.
The picture on play is mixed in Brent. There are fewer Easter and Summer playschemes and the private ones that exist are often too expensive for low income families. Afterschool clubs find it hard to survive and schools are increasingly providing their own with teacher volunteers.  At the same time the number of holiday, weekend and lunchtime SAT preparation classes have increased and a significant and growing number of children attend after school sessions with private tutors. In such circumstances attempts to put the SATs tests into perspective and reduce stress are doomed to failure.

Under the influence of academies and free schools, Michael Gove is pushing for longer school days and shorter school holidays.

However, on the other hand, some schools are broadening their curriculum and encouraging more outdoor activities such as cycling. The new Chalkhill Park and the planned BMX track nearby are signs that play is valued by some in the council. Brent's Gordon Brown (no relation) Outdoor Education Centre in Hampshire continues to provide residential activites for primary pupils and the Stonebridge Adventure Playground has survived funding crises.

It is not the best of summer days today but I hope Brent kids will be out and about after school today having fun engaged in play activities

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