A novelist has gone viral after posting an open letter on Facebook criticising the SAT exam system.


Although she was previously an English teacher, Abi Elphinstone, recently took the 2016 SATs and failed.


“Kids I just took the 2016 SATs and failed, 25% in Maths 40% in English,” she wrote on a white board in the image which accompanied her Facebook post.



The exams are for ten-year olds.


“Kids you don’t need to know what a model verb or a subordinating conjunctive is to get where you want in life,” she added. “You need ideas and passion – so go on adventures and dream big and don’t worry about your SAT scores.”


Her point is simple – we put so much focus on grades that there’s the danger children can define themselves by how well they do at exams. According to Abi, kids should work hard and aim to achieve, but (and it’s a big but) much of the exam coursework stress over is not only pedantic and obscure, it does little to enrich them in the long run.


“For all the kids sitting their SATs this week (I used to be an English teacher and I visit schools every week now),” she wrote in her impassioned post. “I talk to the kids about resilience, determination and grit, not just in regards to exams but in regards to life too – I'm dyslexic and I had 96 rejections from literary agents on my previous unpublished books so I know a fair bit about courage and perseverance.



“I’m very much on side with telling kids to work hard – the string of A & A* grades I achieved at GCSE & A Level paved the way for my career as a secondary school English teacher – but I am not on side with the English SATs test.


“It contains irrelevant and obscure information that does little to enrich a child's learning. Kids need to know the basic parts of speech – nouns, verbs, adjectives etc. – to talk about a text analytically at GCSE. But time spent ramming modal verbs and subordinating conjunctions down their throats in Year 6 is time wasted. We run the risk of re-creating Dickens' Gradgrindian education system and a system that champions modal verbs over creativity and imaginative flair will never be a system that I can get behind.”


Many parents were quick to agree with Abi, with one commenting, “This is from my 11 year old daughter: “I came home today really upset because I found my maths papers so hard! I cried at school because I felt that I hadn't done well enough! When I got home my mum showed me your post and it made me much happier and confident about my future! So thank you for the lovely message! I am sure that it helped other children too”.



“I don't have a GCSE in English but I still went university and I am now a marketing assistant for an award-winning hotel and spa,” commented another. “I feel for the kids that are like me who aren't good at taking tests and struggle with pressure of it all. don't get me wrong tests are a way of seeing where kids need to improve as such but it shouldn't be the only thing schools use to measure children’s ability because what a mark says on a test paper can be very different to a child’s participation in class.”


While others hit out at her advice, with one commenter saying: “I agree these SATs mean absolutely nothing but to encourage kids to not be bothered about them is just wrong! You're basically giving them the go ahead to not try their best n not to care if they pass or fail. Then they will wonder why they even bothered learning in class for the past 8 months, not really the attitude you want them to be going into secondary school with is it?”



Where do you stand on this mums? We’d love to hear from you!


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