How can examinations be good for children?
On Saturday the Year 6 girls sat their transfer test to the senior school. Their approach was typical of girls from our Prep School, pragmatic and confident without being blasé or arrogant. Some were a little nervous, but at a level which enhanced their performance rather than detracted from it.
We assess the girls through a range of methods and one of these is setting formal examinations. The Year 6 girls, for example, have not finished for the year. They will take tests in the summer along with the rest of the school during our examination week.
I have been asked why we do this, what is the purpose of putting the girls through it? In the maintained sector they would sit high stakes SATS tests which has brought calls that our children are over tested. Why do we continue to examine when we are not required to do so? My answer is that we do these assessments for the girls. They are a low pressure way of building up their tolerance to situations such as this for when they are older and the stakes are higher. Each year they increase their skill and confidence, as proven by the attitudes of the girls towards the transfer test.
The school can use the data produced to map progress of the children. This is only one method amongst many that gives a picture of each child in the school and of secondary importance to knowing them well. It fits into a much larger picture that allows us to see that the girls are performing at the level they should. In some schools examinations are used for the good of the school and the inspectorate, in ours the main purpose is for the good of the children.