Mazeltov TO all the children who completed their SATs in the past few weeks. They certainly seem to have become much more stressful, difficult and controversial since I sat mine 12 years ago.
SATs in 2016, as far as I can gather, are a nerve-wracking individual learning assessment designed to reduce children to numbers that can be used to judge their teachers and rank everyone on the same narrow set of skills.
They have, for many, become symbolic of a particular strain in educational culture that is seen as exclusionary to those with learning difficulties or from a poor background, and is designed to achieve a national assessment about a school rather than in the interests of the actual individual children.
For the past year, I have been a movement worker for LJY-Netzer – an organisation that, like schools, values education as a fundamental part of our reason for existing.
However, unlike schools, we still have the freedom and capacity to approach this in a manner that is unconstrained by formal structures.
Our informal, often peer-led, style emphasises education for a purpose and creativity in learning. Most importantly of all, it is adapted to groups and individuals – whatever their strengths and weakness.
The ultimate aim is to inspire and empower our members to find their own paths.
In a funny way, the horror stories we’ve been hearing about SATs – from our members and their parents – makes me even prouder of LJY-Netzer’s informal education.
I think the current furore around SATs clearly shows the dangers of losing the values of inclusion, inspiration and creativity that underlie our approach.
LJY-Netzer has developed a system to focus on people achieving their potential, not some uniform target. This is a lesson that many in the educational establishment could learn from Jewish youth movements.
• Sam Alston is a movement worker for LJY-Netzer