International Petition to Stop School League Tables for Five Year Olds appears in “The Friend”

“The Friend” is an international Quaker journal and the petition to “Stop School League Tables for Five Year Olds” featured this week in it. There is also an online version of this news piece which is written by Symon Hill – see this link:

“League Tables petition gets off to a strong start”.

I don’t think I would ever refer to this campaign as ‘my campaign’ as I’ve always tried to use a consensus-building approach and this is of course much less about me as an individual and much more about the thousand or so people who have already expressed their views as signatories of the petition and the dozens of people who supported me through the process of launching the petition. But I suppose the mother-takes-on-the- government-approach makes for a striking headline. And sometimes we need this light of print (and the net) to put something important across.

Nevertheless – it is a strong article and will carry considerable weight amongst subscribers to the Friend, I hope. Quakers also have their own Parliamentary Liason Officer in Parliament. And whilst this issue has not (yet) been adopted as an official Quaker ‘concern’ – I harbour the hope that Quakers in their meetings might be able to consider approaching their own M.P’s and ask them to sign the Early Day Motion.

Some supporters had feared that the Early Day Motion 1285 launched by Caroline Lucas would fall prey to the party whips. The first signatories were members of the Labour Party. If the Lib Dem and Conservative Party had cracked their whips against their motion – then the Early Day Motion might not succeed in mobilising the numbers of M.P’s we need. But – at the time of writing this we now have at least one Liberal Democrat on board.

Symon Hill, who wrote the Friend news piece – succeeded in extracting a statement from the Department of Education. And a statement from Caroline Lucas (who recently launched Early Day Motion 1285 on School League Tables for Five Year Olds) in response to what the  government said. 

According to this Friend piece – the DfE said:

” that it is inaccurate to use the term ‘league tables’ as this implies that testing will be involved” and

A spokesperson insisted “that the government is not ‘considering league tables for five-year-olds’.

But a spokesperson for Caroline Lucas described the DfE comment as ‘disingenuous’. She said ‘league tables don’t have to be about testing’, and that the term still applies when school-by-school comparisons are published.

Enlightening? Do let me know what you think of this one, blog readers.

 Three weeks into this petition launch we can see just how  the “Stop School League Tables” issue is galvanising public opinion. A series of cliches spring to mind. The petition has hit a nerve, that’s for sure. But it isn’t a ‘flash in the pan’. 

The nerve I’m referring to had been gradually exposed over a period of years with the repeated criticisms of the Compulsory Early Years Foundation Stage learning and development Requirements. I’ve been writing about these criticisms for nearly two years now on this blog as regular readers, I hope can see. 

Early Years Education is not an easy topic to write about. It is not easy for parents and it is not easy for journalists either. That’s partly because the lives of small children are influenced by many different factors – not just the care they receive in nurseries or schools but issues of food – housing – parental income – security – the culture we live in..and so it goes on.

The school league tables for five year olds proposal – it seems to me ( and to fall back on yet another cliche) – was for many of us – simply a ‘last straw’.

The petition (and the Early Day Motion) – are not (yet) subject to the sort of  censorship that typically – happens when a ‘consultation’ is launched. Everyone is keen to contribute to a consultation – but no-one has any assurances that their contributions will ever meet the light of day/print or be properly and seriously considered. And government spin-doctors tend to cherry pick the responses which suit them and leak these responses to the press – but typically not the responses which are critical of existing government policy. So many of us are left confused about the issues.

Before I did the interview with Symon Hill in the Friend – the following sentence came to me:

“The futures of young children are in danger of being sacrificed at the altar of political expediency”.

I stand by that statement. Before our government (parliament itself – the coalition government and the  Department of Education) enters into this debate properly it seems we will all have a fair amount of ‘kicking and screaming’ to contend with.

Here is that petition link once again:

Stop School League Tables for Five Year Olds

and here is another, complementary petition just recently launched:

Say No to Phonics Tests for small children

and here the link to the EDM 1285


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