Our 100th writing prompt is inspired by our very own teacher and writer, Niki (aka Mama Elsie). Always with an eye on, and concern for, children going through the education whims and vagaries of every changing government, Niki discourses here on the introduction (again) of grammar schools and the (sigh) 11-plus exam. After you’ve read her words, it’s over to you to reflect, rant or muse about your own education in this week’s writing prompt: Talk about your education. Ed

We’re only a month into the new academic year and already the eye-rolling has started. Grammar schools. Again. When the news broke about grammar schools being the darling of the new Tory regime, honestly, I shrugged. Of course they were, what did people expect? Once again the government have popped on their rose-coloured spectacles of the past and cherry picked what they liked about their old schools days: grammar schools back on every corner – tick; aged British writers over any form of ethnicity on the curriculum – tick.

Listen to any radio phone in about the whole grammar school issue and you’ll hear how the grammar school pulled kids by the scruff of the neck, gave them a good education but didn’t change who they were really. Or you’ll hear how today’s parents want the right to choose the best school for their kids because they don’t like the school on their street.

And yes ultimately, parents will apply for the schools they want and the government will u-turn on policies and promises if they want.

But let’s stop and think about the children for a moment. Not the CHILD but the children…plural.

Tuition is now becoming part and parcel for preparing for the 11 plus or entrance exams so does that suggest parents don’t think the education these children are receiving in school is sufficient? Yet in the same breath parents are angry about too much homework and formal testing at a young age. Are these the same people who are okay with children aged around 10 being regularly tutored after a day’s schooling, homework, tests and all that normal tweenie-life stress? I say around 10, I’ve met parents who have asked if they should start getting tuition for their 6 or 7 year olds in order to prepare them for grammar school exams.

We need to seriously consider the pressure we are putting on our children because this simply cannot be maintained throughout their educational life. From experience I have witnessed teens fall apart before, during and after their GCSEs; having studied so hard for so long in order to do well they simply burn out. Is this how we prepare our children for the outside world?

Data about the increasing rate of student anxiety (link – http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/anxiety/anxiety/exam-anxiety.html) cannot be ignored and surely can’t be remembered just before the big exams; the attitude and mindset to learning should be instigated from early on.

So bringing this back to grammar schools… whether they are a hub for the middle classes to up-level their kids or whether they will widen the gap between comprehensive and selective schools only time will tell. My concern is about the way the government is using the classroom to measure stats rather than support and develop teachers and resources for the good of the children.

If a child loves their learning they will do well, if a child doesn’t love their learning they will learn to hate it more.

Mama Elsie

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Hoi, hoi mama elsie here, a.k.a Niki Carrick-Steele. Blogging since motherhood. Life was moving too quickly and the 'me' who stepped foot off a London Underground tube to find fortune in the nineties was no longer the 'me' who reached destination 40 in London Olympic year with a Geordie husband and three girls in tow. Blogging enabled me to breathe and stop. making it up as i go along does what it says on the tin. It's a place where I make sense of life and living. I'm a middle management secondary English teacher so my writing is creative (the only way to teach writing is to get your own creations up there) alongside factual (who knew English teaching required so much data analysis?). A career break gave me time to get my creative on: a novel, short stories, poetry (unpublished) and give some real love to my blog; plus whiling away hours on new blogs and twitter. Neither me or my blog fit a single niche , but breaking the 40 barrier gave me the cajones to share experiences without apology and listen without prejudice - of which I found in abundance on #Post40bloggers. This is where I'm at. Lovin' it, lovin' it, lovin' it.