Well is it stressful? If yes who for - the teachers, parents or the kids who sit it?
I'm a teacher and I teach in the foundation stage and yet I am trained to teach Key stage 2. Have I ever taught up the school? The simple answer is yes. One year, I was asked by the headteacher of my school to move from Primary 1 to Primary 6. Did I find that stressful? - Ohhhhhhhh yes!!!!!! At the time AQE tests did not exist; it was the 11+ tests and that summer I was STRESSED. Not only was it a big jump from foundation stage to Keystone 2 but also your style of teaching needs to change. I managed it BUT it was stressful - sorry with a capital "S" - Stressful.
I enjoyed it in the end because I love this age group - let's face it - these kids can write, read and tie their shoe laces and button their coats up unlike the Primary 1 children in September. But I did work every night that year and the marking never seemed to end. I even stayed in P.6 the next year and the next...but I did go back down the school when an opportunity came up. I couldn't wait to move back down the school.
As a result, I would like to send a BIG SHOUT OUT to all the Key Stage 2 teachers for the preparation, planning and the big one..... the marking that occurs everyday in their classrooms and late into the evenings at home. Would I move back to Key Stage 2?...... eh no - and that is the bottom line. Remember I am the stress-free teacher and the thought of moving to P.6 or 7 would just change that dynamic of my character.
WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS - does AQE stress out the parents?
I'm also a parent to three lovely KeyStage 2 children. The twins did their test last year and looking back I was stressed as a parent. The twins both had picked their favourite schools and these were both Grammar schools. As a parent I knew that these two needed to work hard to get that "pass" into the schools of their choice. We worked hard the summer before the tests and with Grace I had to demonstrate the reflex angle with mad gymnastic moves. (Grace doing the gymnastic moves not me). The three mornings of the tests came and went in a flash and I managed the smiley mummy act each morning despite my stomach doing the somersaults. When they were doing the test I prayed hard for them and couldn't believe that these two days would decide the schools that they will go to in September!!!!
This year is a different type of stress. My other daughter has decided that our local secondary school is the place for her. In my heart I know that she would suit a secondary school more than a grammar school- so why is this stressing me? Well the first thing is I had to make a decision before Easter as to whether or not she will be doing the practice AQE papers in her school. She point- blankly does not want to do the AQE. And yet as a parent I don't want her to miss out in any important concepts. What will she be doing if she is not doing the practice tests? Time will answer that question. I will blog on this as it happens.
What about THE KIDS WHO SIT THE AQE? Is it stressful for them?
Finally, is it stressful for the kids who sit the tests? Of course it is! Is that not why we got rid of the 11+ in the first place? Now the children have to sit the tests in another school rather than in their own primary school.
Saying that - the schools are brilliant in our area at supporting the children through this process. The twins did their tests in Glenlola Collegiate, Grammar School, Bangor - this school was outstanding at preparing our twins for the test and they did their test in a classroom rather than in a daunting assembly hall.
I asked the twins how they felt about the AQE and one said, "Yes it was stressful - I panicked through the first test." And that says it all.
So how can we help as parents or as a teacher. Do we need more support? I believe that we do. Is there a solution? This week I just heard about a fantastic workshop that might just be the solution that we all need. It's for Parents and children who are sitting the AQE tests this year.
In the workshops you learn skills and techniques that will help you to relax and reach a deep level of calm. Each child can then face each test feeling good and stress free. Having a positive mindset is the aim and surely everyone reading this would agree that that is exactly what we want our children to have. Could this be the solution? All I can say is if I had heard about these workshops last year I would have been there.
So if you are a parent or a teacher - I would recommend that you check these workshops out. In the end of the day we want only the best for our children in Northern Ireland and this could end up helping them to achieve their hopes and dreams. Press the button here to find out more: