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Student voice: we’re creating an entire generation of people who’ve been brought up not to ask questions

At the SSAT National Conference 2015, four students from schools within the SSAT network answered the question ‘Are schools getting in the way of education?’ Watch above and read below as Emily Twist of Landau Forte Academy Tamworth gives her opinion…

I’m speaking on behalf of all students who are frustrated at living in an age of tick-box teaching. An age where the only things deemed worthwhile in the education system are those that can be analysed and measured.

An age where students are feeling disillusioned because their own teachers are being pressured to grind better exam results out of them, and treat them more like machines than human beings.

Students are feeling disillusioned because their own teachers are being pressured to grind better exam results out of them.

One of the most pressing issues is how schools and sixth forms are trying to categorise students. We are given numbers and grades to determine our value and these grades are meaningless – created through formulas and calculations that are simple proof that we are living in a data-fuelled society.

This is a problem because it leaves students feeling dehumanised and uncared for. Their only sense of worth are through the grades they receive, whether it’s an A or an E.

This brings me to my next point – these formulas and methods of working out target grades are resulting in some students being given target grades of ‘fails’. Where is the sense in this?

It is effectively telling students that their own schools don’t have any faith in them, and that no matter how hard they work they are still not expected to be successful. How can any student be expected to learn when they are put in that situation?

Another point is to do with the school curriculum, and how it is less about learning and more about memorising. We are at a point in education where we are taking two steps forward and a billion steps back. Instead of passing exams on our ability to understand and comprehend, we are being examined on how much information we can temporarily store in our heads.

Instead of passing exams on our ability to understand and comprehend, we are being examined on how much information we can temporarily store in our heads.

Ask a teacher the question ‘why are we learning this?’ and their response is ‘because it will be in the exam’. It’s never a case of ‘because the job requires you to do this’ and this is seriously discouraging students from engaging in lessons. It encourages complacency, creating an entire generation of people who’ve been brought up not to ask questions and to believe everything they are told.

Instead, students should be challenging teachers and textbooks – finding proof and learning how to research their own facts. The sooner they’re encouraged to do this, the easier they will find it when it is required (such as at A level).

I feel like the transition between secondary school and sixth form is something that seems to have been forgotten. But we students remember, and we students need help with that.


This post is part of our #SSATstudents series. The other three posts are:

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Download PowerPoint presentations from the SSAT National Conference 2015.

Watch more SSAT National Conference 2015 films.

Landau Forte Academy Tamworth is part of the SSAT network. Find out more about membership here.


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