Controversial tests taken by England’s seven-year-olds will be scrapped by 2023, but nine-year-olds will have to sit times table tests under new plans.
Announcing the end to compulsory SATs, the government said children would instead have a “baseline” check in reception year, aged four or five.
This would allow their progress to be tracked and would “free up” teachers, the education secretary said.
But times table tests for year four pupils will be introduced in 2019/20.
The Key Stage 1 tests in reading, writing, maths and science – used to monitor schools’ progress – have been compulsory for seven-year-olds in England with around 500,000 children taking them each year.
But they have proved controversial, with many teachers and parents opposed to putting young pupils through the tests.
Those who support the tests argue that they ensure schools are helping children grasp the basics and identify children who are struggling.
The government announced on Thursday that they would no longer be compulsory from 2023.
Instead there would be a baseline assessment of children’s abilities in their reception year, at the start of their schooling, which would then be used to measure their progress throughout the school. Children will still sit SATs at age 11.
Schools would also not be required to submit assessments of pupils’ reading and maths to the government aged 11 – because they were already being tested in year 6.
This would help “free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way,” Ms Greening said.
But times table tests – initially floated last year for pupils aged 11 – would be sat two years earlier in year four, from 2019/20 to help children’s “fluency in mathematics”.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said the tests would be “a waste of valuable time, energy and money and should not be introduced”.
“The reception baseline assessment and multiplication tables check will be of no educational benefit to children and break a promise not to increase the assessment burden on primary schools.”
But Nick Brook of the school leaders’ union NAHT said the baseline assessments at reception were “absolutely the right thing to do” and, if designed properly, would provide useful information for schools while avoiding “unnecessary burdens on teachers or anxiety for young children”.
From the time she was little, Jessa has always been used and abused. Her family was part of a group of people who sexually abused her on a regular basis, and as a child, she was forced to pose for pornography. As she grew up, posing turned into performing, and Jessa was no longer appearing to do sexual acts in front of a camera, she was being raped on camera.
The spiral continued, and the pornography turned into profitable exploitation. By the age of 10, this beautiful young woman was being sold to pimps.
Jessa grew up in Canada, and lived in a suburban neighborhood where she was sexually exploited on a daily basis. Her neighborhood was “normal” and probably looked similar to where you and I live, but Jessa had no idea. She wasn’t ever sent to school, and never had the opportunity to even see her hometown. The closest thing she had to an education was a sixth-grade mathematics textbook that was thrown at her.
“I was trafficked domestically in Canada, just as I was often taken to the USA and other international countries for the sole purpose of being trafficked.”
When Jessa was 21, a woman approached her after recognizing that she displayed signs of an abused or trafficked person. She gave Jessa a slip of paper with her name and contact information before telling her to call for help anytime. That woman owned a safe house in Colorado where she helped to protect and rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking.
Escaping wasn’t something the 21-year-old had ever considered at the time—she simply never realized she had a choice.
“I didn’t know that there was an opportunity to get away,” Crisp said. “Growing up I thought it was a normal existence because it was normal for me.”
After months of building courage and communicating back and forth with the gal in Colorado, Jessa finally left. The woman helped her get to the airport and got her a plane ticket.
“My escape wasn’t a fairytale like a Disney movie; instead it was encapsulated by fear and months of preparing. I was terrified of the unknown, frightened that I would be hunted down by my pimps and abusers, and scared of what the future would hold. But in addition to being afraid, I also felt freedom for the first time. Freedom was being able to see the big blue sky and seeing the tumbleweed float around on the road as I was driven to a safe house and it felt like sunshine that kissed my face.”
Jessa was free, but her visa posed a threat for the future. Being that she was a Canadian citizen, her tourist visa was only valid for six months, forcing her to return to Canada. She re-located to Vancouver, and got plugged into a safe house there, but only for three weeks.
It was 2010, and the Winter Olympics were about to get underway in Vancouver at the exact same time that the safe house she’d entered was being forced to shut down for lack of financial funding.
Jessa had nowhere to turn, but she knew that the Olympics posed a major threat to her safety. Research shows a spike in human trafficking surrounding major sporting events.
For the second time in her life, Jessa was approached by a woman who suspected she’d been abused.
She explained to Jessa that she houses a number of girls who are in the same situation as her.
“She told me that she wanted to be my mom and that she has a lot of houses of girls like me and that she wanted to take care of me,” said Jessa.
The 21-year-old was beyond grateful to have someone in her new city who was offering to care for her the way she’d been cared for in Colorado. But her vulnerability had failed her. The woman told Jessa that she now had to work for her, and so began the all-too-familiar cycle of being sexually exploited for money.Once again, Jessa found herself trapped in slavery.
“Men raped me as my body tried to disappear from the deep burning pain, but there was nowhere to go. I wished desperately that this were a nightmare, but without knowing the real names of my pimps, I understood the gravity of my situation. I was a slave once again.”
Jessa says that she felt “numb,” and full of nothing but “shameful pain.” She says she turned the anger she felt toward these men into hatred toward herself.
“I hated the fact that the abuse and trafficking I suffered growing up made me so vulnerable to more abuse and pain. I hated the fact that I trusted someone to help me when I was all alone in a new city. I hated the ways that I longed for safety and for someone to care. And most of all, at that moment, I hated the fact that I was still alive and that I had survived my childhood.”
Unbelievably, Jessa escaped slavery a second time.
She was able to return to the same safe house in Colorado, and with the help of a select few people who had earned her trust, and genuinely cared about her future, Jessa is a completely new person today.
The director of the safe house (and the same woman who originally approached Jessa in 2009) knew that they had to do something to keep her from having to go back to Canada.
She told Jessa that if she enrolled in college, she’d be allowed to stay in the states.
“When the director at the safe house suggested that I enroll in college, I laughed in her face. I thought she was crazy. How could I go to college if I have never had an education growing up? How could I succeed if I had never written a paper in my life and didn’t know how to do simple math problems? In response I was simply told, ‘If you can read, you can learn anything.’ I wrote that phrase on my arm with a black Sharpie every day for over a year.”
After getting her GED, Jessa was accepted into college—something she never dreamed could be possible for someone like her. In 2013, she received the Colorado Authors’ League Scholarship, and she managed to finish college with a 4.0 GPA.
“Last May, when I stood in front of my graduating class to deliver the valedictorian speech, the Sharpie story and many other stories flashed through my mind, including my first day of school when I sat on the parking lot and cried because I was convinced people would shun me if they knew about my past and the things I had been forced to do. Miracles not only happen, but after trauma it is possible to dream again and live life fully.”
Jessa graduated with a BA in Christian counseling and is currently working to get her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She hopes to get aPsy.D. in Clinical Psychology where she’d like to specialize in trauma recovery.
In addition to the academic achievements and incredible strides she’s made in finding freedom, Jessa met the man of her dreams, and the two got married in Colorado last year.
“It’s been a long journey, but through God’s redeeming love, safe people believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself, and through people choosing to be in my life for the long haul and walking the messy road of healing by my side—I have changed. My past no longer has the power to hold me captive. I am an overcomer, I am a wife, I am a student, I am a professional, I am a speaker, I am an author, I am leader, I am an agent of change, and I am a confident woman who longs to make a difference in society.”
Jessa is currently raising money for her furthered education. Visit her Go Fund Me Page for more information.
Two hundred years ago, it was still possible for one person to be a leader in several different fields of inquiry. Today that is no longer the case. So is there a role in today’s world for the polymath – someone who knows a lot about a lot of things?
“The winner of the 1964 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, which British X-Ray crystallographer was instrumental in…”
“Man produces evil as a bee produces honey. These are the words of which Nobel laureate, born in Cornwall in 1911, his novels include Pincher Martin, the Inheritors and Rites of…”
Obviously you don’t need to hear the rest of these questions to know the answers. At least, not if you’re Eric Monkman or Bobby Seagull. Seagull’s fist-pumping and natty dressing, and Monkman’s furrowed brow, flashing teeth, contorted facial expressions and vocal delivery – like a fog horn with a hangover – made these two young men the stars of the last University Challenge competition.
“Wolfson, Monkman” and “Emmanuel, Seagull” became familiar phrases, Monkmania became a hashtag. They squared off as opposing captains in the semi-finals (though in the final itself, the team from Balliol College, Oxford triumphed).
At Cambridge, Monkman and Seagull forged a most unlikely friendship. The Canadian, Eric Monkman, is the middle-class son of two doctors. Bobby Seagull’s family originate in Kerala, India, and he was raised in a working-class part of east London, before gaining a scholarship to Britain’s most elite private school, Eton. “If I got married tomorrow, I’d ask Eric to be my best man,” says Seagull.
Find out more
Listen to Monkman and Seagull’s Polymathic Adventure on BBC Radio 4 at 20:30 on Monday 21 August
They’re still recognised in the street. “People often ask me, do you intimidate people with your knowledge,” says Monkman. “But the opposite is the case. I have wide knowledge but no deep expertise. I am intimidated by experts.” Seagull, like Monkman, feels an intense pressure to specialise. They regard themselves as Jacks-of-all-Trades, without being master of one. “When I was young what I really wanted to do was know a lot about a lot,” says Monkman. “Now I feel that if I want to make a novel contribution to society I need to know a great deal about one tiny thing.”
The belief that researchers need to specialise goes back at least two centuries. From the beginning of the 19th Century, research has primarily been the preserve of universities. Ever since, says Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, researchers have labels attached to them. “They’re professor of this or that, and you get a much more self-conscious sense of the institutional divides between domains of knowledge.”
Before then, there were some polymaths who made original contributions in multiple areas. The word polymath stems from the Greek, polus, meaning “much” or “many” and mathe, meaning “learning”. The first use of the word has been traced to the 17th Century. From the Renaissance, people such as Leonardo da Vinci – painter, sculptor, architect, physicist, anatomist, philosopher, geologist and biologist – gave rise to a synonym of polymath, the “Renaissance man”.
One polymath/Renaissance Man was Thomas Young (1773-1829), the subject of a biography by Andrew Robinson entitled The Last Man Who Knew Everything. Young was a physician and physicist, whose achievements were breathtaking. He established the wave theory of light, undertook pioneering work in optics and studied 400 languages, helped decode the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone – and much, much more. And to confound any notion that he was a sort of 19th Century uber-geek, he was also an accomplished dancer and gymnast.
These days, any ambition to contribute to many disciplines is probably unrealistic. It takes years of immersion just to reach the boundary of our current knowledge in any one area. Today’s polymaths might share the same personal qualities as Thomas Young – an abundance of grey matter, of course, combined with relentless curiosity and a tendency to workaholicism (Young barely slept) – but they are repositories of scholarship rather than contributors to it.
Monkman and Seagull’s selected polymaths
Stephen Leacock (1869-1944): Anglo-Canadian political scientist and economist famous in Canada today for his collections of humorous essays and stories. The subjects of his comedy include academia, mathematics, life in rural Canada and the “leisure classes” described by his mentor Thorstein Veblen. When browsing a bookshelf in Canada, I always hope to find an early Stephen Leacock collection.
Joseph Needham (1900-1995): British biochemist, sinologist and historian. As a biochemist, Needham studied chemical embryology. As a sinologist, he was one of the first Westerners to realise the depth of Chinese accomplishments in science. This led him to pose the “Needham Question”, asking why modern science arose in Europe but not in China. I find this an intriguing mystery.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179): This German Benedictine abbess was a theologian, writer, poet, composer, artist, linguist, medical researcher and botanist. She is regarded as the founder of scientific natural history in Germany and is one of the first historically identifiable composers in Western music. I was taught about her during my years at St Bonaventure’s Catholic secondary school.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941): The Calcutta-born “Bard of Bengal” was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913). India chose one of his musical compositions for its national anthem, while Bangladesh chose one of his poems. He was also a painter, and founded the renowned Visva-Bharati University. My father, who studied Bengali literature at university, introduced me to Tagore at a young age.
So is there still a useful role for today’s clever-clog – besides ringer in the pub quiz team?
Stefan Collini says that in many Western societies “there is a populist hostility to expertise in public life”. It may be that polymaths, with their broader gaze, have an important role in communicating specialist fields. What’s more, with ever narrowing specialism there is a need for generalists to synthesise information, to make connections between the discipline silos.
A contemporary polymath, the American academic Jared Diamond, drew on his interest in geography, evolution, anthropology, history and botany, to develop a theory explaining how it was that Eurasian and North African civilisations came to conquer others. It was turned into a best-selling book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.
Diamond is one of Stephen Fry’s favourite polymaths. Fry – actor, comedian, writer and general egghead – is himself on the polymathic spectrum. He says he shares a personality trait with other polymaths – inquisitiveness. “If you know a lot, it’s because you’re curious,” he says. “You have this impulse to know and, therefore, things stick to you. You put on, as it were, epistemological weight. I have always been fantastically greedy to know things.”
Monkman and Seagull love knowing a lot of stuff. You might find them reading about the French Revolution one day, and about genetics or astronomy the next. Despite their anxiety about spreading themselves too thin, they share Fry’s appetite to know. It’s an overwhelming craving, likely to frustrate any countervailing drive to master one topic.
By the way. The answer to those two questions. Dorothy Hodgkin was the crystallographer, and William Golding the novelist. But you knew that anyway.
The belief that there is a link between talent and left-handedness has a long history. Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed. So were Mark Twain, Mozart, Marie Curie, Nicola Tesla and Aristotle. Its no different today former US president Barack Obama is a left-hander, as is business leader Bill Gates and footballer Lionel Messi.
Also, the corpus callosum the bundle of nerve cells connecting the two brain hemispheres tends to be larger in left-handers. This suggests that some left-handers have an enhanced connectivity between the two hemispheres and hence superior information processing. Why that is, however, is unclear. One theory argues that living in a world designed for right-handers could be forcing left-handers to use both hands thereby increasing connectivity. This opens up the possibility that we could all achieve enhanced connectivity by training ourselves to use both hands.
These peculiarities may be the reason why left-handers seem to have an edge in several professions and arts. For example, they are over-represented among musicians, creative artists, architects and chess players. Needless to say, efficient information processing and superior spatial skills are essential in all these activities.
Handedness and mathematics
But what about the link between left-handedness and mathematical skill? Unsurprisingly, the role played by handedness in mathematics has long been a matter of interest. More than 30 years ago, a seminal study claimed left-handedness to be a predictor of mathematical precociousness. The study found that the rate of left-handedness among students talented in mathematics was much greater than among the general population.
However, the idea that left-handedness is a predictor of superior intellectual ability has been challenged recently. Several scholars have claimed that left-handedness is not related to any advantage in cognitive skills, and may even exert detrimental effects on general cognitive function and, hence, academic achievement.
For example, one study discovered that left-handed children slightly under-performed in a series of developmental measures. Also, a recent review reported that left-handers appear to be slightly over-represented among people with intellectual disabilities. Another large study found that left-handers performed more poorly in mathematical ability in a sample of children aged five to 14.
Carefully designed experiment
Interestingly, these past studies, just like many others, differed from each other in how handedness was measured and how participants were categorised some of them simply asked people what their hand preference was in general. And, most importantly, they had different approaches to measuring mathematical ability ranging from simple arithmetic to complex problem solving. These discrepancies in the experimental design may be the cause of the mixed observed results.
To get more reliable results, we decided to carry out a whole series of experiments including more than 2,300 students (in primary school and high school). These experiments varied in terms of type and difficulty of mathematical tasks.
To assure comparability, we used the same questionnaire the Edinburgh Inventory to assess handedness in all the experiments. This questionnaire asks people which hand they prefer for writing, drawing, throwing, brushing and other things. It assesses to what extent someone prefers their right or left its a scale rather than a categorical left versus right assessment. This specific feature allowed us to build more reliable and powerful statistical models.
With summer right around the corner, most kids are looking forward to taking a break from homework and spending long days at the pool. Two Texas brothers, however, are exceptions to the rule their love of learning already has them looking forward to next school year and hitting the books once again.
When you see Carson Huey-You and his younger brother, Cannan, on the playground they look like ordinary siblings, doing ordinary activities. But this playful duo is anything but ordinary.
“I don’t really think I’m a genius at all,” Carson says.
Most of his friends, family and educators would beg to differ. While most kids were starting kindergarten at age 5, Carson had just completed the eighth grade.
I was 10 years old when I graduated high school, he explains.
Four years later, now 14, Carson just became the youngest person to ever graduate from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He majored in physics and picked up minors in mathematics and Chinese.
It’s a good language to learn. So many people speak it. You have those big businesses in China, so I started taking it and high school and eventually when I started going here I took it, he said.
While not even old enough to drive or legally vote, Carson is able to solve math problems that would give most people nightmares. He says he enjoys learning how things work and finds physics interesting because it can be considered abstract. In fact, Carson is so fascinated with science that he plans to now pursue a masters degree in quantum mechanics at TCU.
The teen will begin his graduate program in the fall, only this time he wont be completely alone on campus. His younger brother will also attend TCU next year, after just graduating from high school at age 11.
Yes, two academically gifted children in one family.
Cannan will focus his studies on engineering, astronomy and physics because hed like to become an astronaut when he grows up.
“I tell everyone they’re just normal kids but they’re advanced on an academic level,” their mother, Claretta Kimp, explains.
Kimp is a single mother with a background in education and business who mostly homeschooled her boys. She insists it was extremely important that she raise her children to not believe they were better than anyone else, just because of their intellect.
I must say that every child is special, she says. Im humbled. I love my boys more than life and I’m so proud of them. They are such great kids and it’s great to be their mom!
Casey Stegall joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2007 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Dallas bureau. He previously served as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.
Whether you’re in middle school, high school, university, or anything in between, it has never been a better time to be a student. Schools around the globe are embracing clever and practical new technologies and ideas in their buildings, all geared towards making life easier for students and teachers alike. It’s not all just for show, either – a 2012 study by the Miami-Dade Public School Board showed that modern school facilities actually contribute to the well-being and academic performance of students, and that teachers working in a more technologically-advanced environment are more likely to keep their jobs.
Here at Bored Panda, we think these ingenious upgrades deserve some recognition, so we’ve put together a list of some of the most creative and cool things people have installed at their schools.
Vote for the ones you’d most like to bring to your principal’s desk, and add photos of your own school’s smart creations below!