Life is so much more than numbers

Children Making Team Gesture

We can’t help but share this heartening tale from one headteacher concerning the recent Sats results and more succinctly the view that life is more important than numbers.

Brian Walton, headteacher of Brookside Academy in Somerset wrote for Tes (formerly The Times Educational Supplement), of his life affirming experience on Sats results day. It wasn’t from the results, but from the laughter and friendship of a wonderful school community remembering one of their pupils who had passed away.

Mr Walton argues that schools are so much more than year 6 outcomes. “Life is a bigger test than Sats. Children need more from us because there is so much that we will come across in life. Deep down we need school communities that are at the heart of this.”

On Sats results day Mr Walton took 59 year-5 pupils swimming at the local outdoor pool. That number should have been 60 with Callum. The school tweeted ‘We are here Callum.’ Callum was a valued member of the school community. Mr Walton described him as “a brave, strong and wonderful young man adored by all his friends and remembered with such love and companionship.”

Mr Walton writes that Callum’s family have been incredibly supportive of the school. Despite their tragic loss, they have been there for Callum’s friends and his class.

On the future, Mr Walton says, “We need schools to focus on what is right rather than “bow down” to politics that are so detached from the communities and the realities of school life that they lose sight of what really matters. When the UNICEF index of child wellbeing puts children in the UK at the very bottom, you would think someone, somewhere would begin to change this for the good. Instead, it seems we are still obsessed in ensuring that grades are high – even when wellbeing is low.”

A recent poll by Tes found that almost half of children are stressed by primary school tests and a YouGov survey of parents of 7 to 14 year olds found that 63 per cent of parents felt children were under too much pressure. Last year a National Union of Teachers (NUT) survey of primary school teachers found a widespread lack of confidence in the Government’s current system of assessment and accountability.

This head teacher’s story and the sad loss of a valued pupil reminds us of the importance of community at school. And as Callum’s mum reminded head teacher, Mr Walton, ‘Life is about so much more than numbers.’

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