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(not satire – it’s UK education today)

Have any government ministers ever actually spoken to a 4-year-old child?

Because formally testing children at that age has got to be the stupidest idea the coalition has come up with yet.

This is what a formal test of a 4-year-old is likely to look like:

EXAMINER: Hello, what’s your name?

4-YEAR-OLD: Tom.

EXAMINER: Hello, Tom. And what’s your surname?

4-YEAR-OLD: I like sausages. Do you think we’re going to have sausages for tea today?

EXAMINER: Erm, I don’t know. Your surname?

4-YEAR-OLD: Trump.

EXAMINER: Trump’s your surname?

4-YEAR-OLD: He he he …. (blowing raspberries and laughing hysterically) … that’s what a trump sounds like. 

EXAMINER: Right. OK. Well maybe we can forget the surname. Let’s have a look at these shapes and can you tell me which one is the square?

4-YEAR-OLD: (without moving) Yes.

EXAMINER: Can you show me by pointing?


EXAMINER: Why not?

4-YEAR-OLD: My mummy says it’s rude to point.

EXAMINER: Right, I see. Can you show me without pointing?

4-YEAR-OLD: No. But did you know I can blow bubbles from my bottom?

I’d love to see a grading and marking scheme which can cope with answers like those.

But apart from the practical problems of formally testing children at such a young age, there is absolutely no evidence that starting formal teaching at an early age leads to more successful final outcomes.

In Scandinavian countries, for example, children are still playing in kindergardens at the age of 6 – and the outcomes for 18-year-olds in those countries are generally much better than ours when it comes to education.

And every parent knows there is also a huge difference in abilities at the early stages of educational development – children develop in leaps and bounds and there can be as much as a 2 or 3 year range between abilities of individual children at that age.

Comparing individual 4-year olds and rating them by their abilities is pointless and could even be damaging by making late-developing children feel like they’re failures.

I’ve got a much better idea than testing 4-year-olds.

Perhaps we should introduce more rigorous, formal testing of prospective government ministers before we allow them to get their hands on our children’s education?


Related articles by Tom Pride:

Gove announces plan to phase out teaching in schools

EXCLUSIVE – leaked sample questions from Michael Gove’s new GCSE Mathematics examination

How The Gove Stole Summer (with apologies to Dr. Suess)

Gove – children to start learning to hate school from age of 5

Gove unveils new GCSEs with emphasis on cold baths and six of the best from a well-oiled cane

Toby Young – disabled children should be excluded from schools

Johnson – let’s have more schools with lashings of junk food and no disabled children

BBFC – Michael Gove ‘too scary’ for under-12s

New English Bacchanalian exam to focus on core subjects of drinking, swearing and fighting

Gove – free bibles to boost nutritional standards on school menus

Act Of Gove: an event beyond human control – often of a destructive nature – for which there is no legal redress

Government Baffled By Surprise 10% Fall In University Applications After Tripling Of Fees


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