Exam pressure and school targets put children’s welfare at risk, warns teaching union chief

A constant cycle of pressure to reach governement targets is putting children’s welfare at risk and stunting innovation and growth, according to a teaching union chief.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) have been discussing the educational burden on children at their annual conference in Manchester.

From the age of 10 upwards, children are subjected to formal assessments and as soon as they start secondary school everything is focused towards their GCSEs.

This means vigorous testing and end of year exams occupy children’s minds 24/7, and this coupled with social pressures can causes children to suffer from various health issues.

Union chief Dr Mary Bousted told MM: “Children are put under the pressure of targets at such an early age and it can really have a lasting negative affect on their academic lives.

“Imagine being told at the age of seven that you are way below your target. We are telling children that they are not up to scratch and that they aren’t good enough.

“There are number of reasons that contribute to way children are more stressed than ever. They are expected to achieve from an early age and are told that they are as good as others.

“This has massively raised the stress levels that children have to deal with. This then stunts innovation and growth because children aren’t confident.”

In some cases parents heap pressure on their children and expect them to achieve high grades in subjects across the board.

With excessive homework and tests, children don’t have time for enjoyment, especially those who feel pressured to get straight A’s in school which can then can then diminish much of a child’s creativity for the future.

Single parent, Alex Middleton, from Didsbury, told MM: “It is absolutely gutting to hear that your child isn’t up to scratch. I can’t imagine how my son must feel. 

“There are so many stresses in life and to go to school every day and be reminded that they aren’t where they should be must be really punishing.”

In the current climate children are also put under scrutiny about the way they look and are forced to fit into social constraints.

Children now have to consider factors such as Facebook and mobile phones which mean that many feel they can never have time off from playground gossip.

Mr Middleton added: “Childhood is a time to enjoy yourself but is seems that kids these days have so many pressures that they aren’t as happy.”

Image courtesy of Milford, with thanks.

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