Dear Nicky Morgan… again

I was not going to write about education or politics this week and was adamant I would find another topic. But…. But…. But….I have just finished reading an article about ‘Shanghai-style’ maths lessons and I can feel my blood boiling again. And so this week, after the absolute tragedy that over half of the country’s year 6 children are apparently not ‘secondary ready,’ I had to do it. I had to write to the people responsible for ruining our children and destroying their precious childhood.

Dear Nick Gibb and Nicky Morgan,

Me again. Angry, again. And I am not entirely sure where to start this time.

Over the last week I have seen many, many posts on Facebook and tweets from teachers and parents about how sad they are for their eleven-year-old children – yes, children – because of this year’s SATs results. And instead of admitting that you got it wrong, instead of apologising to those children for experimenting with them and their self worth, you tried to defend the tests. You tried to justify the sheer trauma you have unnecessarily caused these CHILDREN by saying that these results cannot be compared to last year’s because they are taken from a completely different type of test. A test that most of them have failed. A test that says they’re not good enough. A test which tells them that in spite of working their hardest and following your absurd assessment procedures, that they are not ready to move on to the next stage of their education. But who cares if the tests don’t match to last years? That is not the point. A test that states half of this county’s children have failed it, is a failure itself in my opinion. You’re not experimenting with something unimportant, you are meddling with the next generation. When are you going to start listening?

And Shanghai-style maths? I know our economy has recently plunged back into the dark ages but that doesn’t mean education needs to follow. Applying maths to the real world is the only way maths should be taught. Adapting it to the varied abilities of each individual child is the only way it should be taught. Some children are never, ever going to be a mathematical genius no matter how hard you try. It’s a fact. Children are not failing at maths because of the way it is taught, they are failing because of the way it is tested and assessed. Have you considered that the reason children do so well in Shanghai is because they are simply taught to succeed at a test? And that is all, which then leaves them totally unprepared for using maths in the real world.

I cannot keep doing this. I cannot keep writing these letters and fighting for our children along with so many others. For goodness sake start speaking to the experts – teachers, parents, children and design a curriculum for the modern world and the modern child.

Or you will end up with even more teens suffering mental health issues. Even more children feeling like failures. Even more teachers leaving the profession.

If you really wanted children to succeed you’d start listening. There are enough of us shouting.



Jen Faulkner

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