Letter: Stop putting so much pressure on our children

This letter appears in the October 4 edition of The Independent

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Dear Sir/Madam,

As parents and educators we find ourselves increasingly concerned at the pressure that is being placed on our children and young people. We worry about the long term impact that this pressure may have on our children’s emotional health, particularly on the most vulnerable in our society. We are concerned to hear of children crying on their way to school, upset that they will not be able to keep up; of parents worried that their four year olds are ‘falling behind’ or of six year olds scared that they ‘might not get a good job’. And we wonder what has happened to that short period in our lives known as ‘childhood’.

The pressure that is put on schools to achieve results, particularly in the tests that now form such a regular feature of a child’s life, has inevitably led to increased pressure on the children themselves. This is not to blame teachers, or schools. Rather, it is to say that with test results becoming such a high stakes feature of our education system, schools are put in a very difficult position. When test results are the key measure of whether a child’s school is ‘good’ or not, we believe that every child’s entitlement to a broad and balanced education is put at risk. We believe all children have the right to become fully rounded individuals, and that in order to help them achieve this, we must protect their emotional well-being, now and for the future. We believe all children have the right to be treated as individuals, and to be allowed to develop at a pace that is right for them, not to meet a Government target.

We call for all those who are equally concerned to speak out against the direction in which education in England, and in other countries around the world, is moving. We call for governments around the world to take into account children’s emotional well-being when they consider the ‘effectiveness’ of schools and other educational settings.

Sue Cowley, parent, author, educator and chair of preschool committee, Bristol, UK

and 427 other signatories (please see below)

Laura Henry, parent, independent early years consultant, trainer, writer and author, London, England

Debra Kidd, parent, teacher and author, England

Hywel Roberts, parent, author and travelling teacher, Yorkshire, England

Elizabeth Holmes, parent, educator and author, England

Tim Taylor, parent and teacher, England

Meraud Ferguson Hand, parent, England

Chris Chivers, grandparent, ex head teacher, consultant, ITT, tutor, blogger, England

Kate Evans, parent, educator and head teacher, Scotland

Nancy Gedge, parent, teacher and blogger, Gloucestershire, England

Emma Hardy, parent, primary teacher, blogger and activist, England

Diane Leedham, parent and teacher, London, England

Mary Cooper, parent and educator, Lancashire, England

Neil Leitch, chief executive, Pre-school Learning Alliance

Michael Rosen, writer and Professor of Children’s Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London, parent of two school-age children

John Wadsworth, senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Goldsmiths University of London

Sue Palmer, mother, grandmother, teacher, literacy specialist, author of books on child development, director of Save Childhood

Sue Atkins, former deputy head teacher and class teacher, author, ITV ‘This Morning’ parenting expert

Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary NUT

Liz Bayram, PACEY chief executive

Jill Berry, former head, now educational consultant

Andrew Davis, Durham University

Richard Long, parent, teacher, Maidenhead, England

Jacqueline Massie, parent, England

Erzsi Culshaw, parent and teacher, England

Jenna Welsby, childminder, EYP and parent

Jules Daulby, parent

Craig Lucas, teacher, High Wycombe, England

Carlin Anderson, childminder and parent, England

Josephine Hartley, parent and teacher, Southampton, UK

Nicola Rees, teacher, Hertfordshire, England

Sharon MacInnes, parent and curriculum manager for Drama and Theatre Studies at Bilborough Sixth Form College in Nottingham

Starr Sackstein, parent, high school teacher, NY, NY USA

Andrew Stanley, parent, step-parent, over 30 years in schools

Simone Haughey, parent, teacher, Malvern, UK

Kevin Berry

James Mannion, teacher and parent

Hannah Bradley, teacher, Hampshire

Chris Sloggett, former teacher, London

Fiona Miller, parent, grandparent, primary school teacher, East Midlands

Linda M, retired primary teacher, Southampton, UK

Claire Nicholls, teacher and school governor, Bristol

Sam Jones, parent and teacher, Exeter.

Kathryn Bentley, parent and teacher, Tyne and Wear.

Jo Ince, parent and teacher, London, UK

Dr Jo Ingold, parent of primary school child, lecturer, Leeds, England

Natalia Myerscough, parent and secondary school teacher, Bury, Lancs, UK

Cherrylkd, assistant head teacher, Blackpool, Lancs.

Alison Clarke, mother and head teacher

David Williams, parent, English teacher, literacy coordinator, Swansea. South Wales

Gareth Child, founder www.asdfriendly.org

Stephen Mayo, parent, local press contributor

Kate Thompson, parent, teacher, SENCo and education leader

Cleo Lewis, primary teacher, aunty and active union member, London, England

Joshua Hunt, academy chaplain, Suffolk

Jane Waring, primary teacher & LA inclusion adviser (retired), grandparent

Graham Brickley, parent, step-parent, consultant audiologist, Winchester, Hampshire

Anna Woodward, secondary teacher, Yorkshire

Val Wilf, HLTA , parent, grandparent

Rebecca Stacey, head teacher, England

Catherine Clarke, parent and teaching assistant

Sarah Nicolson, parent and secondary teacher

Claire Slocombe, parent and teacher

Pete Spencer, primary teacher and soon-to-be father

Patricia Oxlade, parent, grandparent, primary teacher, England

Kirsty Wharton, teacher

Martin Maloney, primary teacher

Terry Hoad, retired university teacher, parent, NW London.

Lizzie Cotton, parent and teacher, Sussex, England

Laura Street, parent and teacher, Gosport

Jennifer Macey, retired teacher

Iza Johnson, primary teacher, Northampton

Tina van der Graaf, SENDCO, London

Abi Stokes, parent, teacher, Gloucestershire

Chris Daye, maths teacher with SEN children

David Innes, parent and teacher

Ruth Gould, primary teacher, Wiltshire.

Tanya White, parent, SENCO and year 6 teacher

Caroline Thomas, early years teacher

Amanda Vobes, parent and primary teacher.

Ez Bolton, parent and primary school teacher

Nina Shah-Onwukwe, parent, teacher, union rep, England

Suzanne Finn, mum and primary school teacher

Naomi Fearon, primary school teacher with specialism in SEN and ESBD and activist

Nick Heritage, primary teacher and parent

V.K. Watson, parent and educationalist

Pat Brewin, parent and worker in H. E.

Andrew Black, consultant psychiatrist, Essex, UK

Bonnie Craven, primary school teacher, mum and home educator

Andrea Croce, secondary school teacher

Cheng-Han Wu, parent, teacher, Berkshire

Jo Hutchison, primary school teacher, Nottingham

Helen Bradbury, parent and teacher

Jo Young, primary teacher and parent

Olivia Mifflin, parent

Jordy Jax, parent, SENCO and deputy head teacher, primary PRU

Veronica Kaneti, primary school teacher and parent

Sue and Dave Molloy, recently retired primary head teachers and parents, Stratford upon Avon

Chloe Sheppard, parent and primary school teacher, England


Kim Biddulph, parent, museum educator and consultant, Buckinghamshire, England

Emma Iley, parent

N. Junker, parent and trainee teacher, London

Debbie Hekkink, parent, ex-primary teacher, Family Support Worker (Barnardos), Bucks, UK

Kate Anderson, parent, grandparent, deputy head teacher, Y6 teacher

Kay Longstaff, parent, SEN teacher

Simona McKenzie, OFSTED registered childminder

Jo Nobbs, parent, children’s services manager, Manchester, UK

Cat Salt, aunt, godmother, secondary school teacher, England

Stuart McQueen, parent and secondary school teacher, Herts, UK

Sara Stanley, Eyfs AST teacher (20 yrs), philosophical play consultant, educator and author, Norfolk UK

Kate Harrold, formerly full-time teacher, now supply teacher and new parent

Ellen McVicar, parent and teacher Isle of Wight

Pooky Knightsmith, parent and PhD in child and adolescent mental health

Matt Wardle, drama for learning practitioner, Manchester

Kerry Jordan-Daus, parent, teacher, teacher educator

Jo Staples, parent and primary school teacher

Joanne Brown, parent, primary school teacher, Yorkshire

Terry Portch, head of Geography in a secondary school and parent

Julie Lilly, mother, teacher, former head teacher

Vanessa Waters, parent, postgraduate student, English teacher, Horncastle, Lincolnshire

Dr Vincent Lien, teacher and bricoleur researcher

S. Lovell-Brown, parent and teacher.

Dave Mingay, special school teacher, union activist, England

Anne Booth, parent and children’s writer

Kevin McLaughlin, primary teacher, artist, musician, maverick, Leicestershire

Leanne Broughton, parent and teacher

Donna Mace, parent, grandparent, elementary teacher, Florida, USA

Penny Best, mother and childminder

Jackie Sandy, parent and primary teacher, Hampshire

Greg Wright, parent, teacher, governor, blogger

Aimee Casson, mother, head of English, Huddersfield, England

Lesley Dixon, parent and teacher, London

Kathryn Mayo, parent and teacher of 20 years

Victoria Jaquiss

Anna Thompsett, parent and primary teacher, Hampshire

Lorraine Abbott, parent, teacher and author

Joanne Bardgett, parent & teacher

Ilona Aronovsky

Linda Ruddock, parent, grandparent and teacher

Amanda Jones, teacher, deputy head teacher, Swansea, South Wales

David Jones, dad and teacher, England

Bo Hetherington, artist teacher, educationalist, parent, blogger

Jane Street, auntie, great auntie, clinical psychologist

Louise Neve, parent, senior teacher in junior school

Rona Heritage, mum and primary school teacher

Jennifer Holman

Sarah Bolton, teacher , England

Linda Street, grandmother and teacher for 30+ years

Lisa Fricker, parent, Ofsted registered childminder, Southampton

Bill Hall, retired teacher (after 33 years), ex- Head of Dept, & PGCE external examiner

Chris Cowling, parent and teaching assistant

D.M. Crosby, Year 6 Class Teacher

Claire Stewart, parent and primary teacher, West Yorkshire

Kenny Frederick – mother, grandmother, retired head teacher, education consultant

Jo Kinloch, parent and nursery owner

Danny Morton, teacher

Mel Coleman, parent and teacher

Vin Wynne, teacher

Amy Boyd, parent and childminder, Cert EYP (Open)

Adam Bubble, parent arts/educator

Jacqueline O’Boyle

Jackie Carey, parent, TA and trainee teacher

Simon Arthur Nash

Gemma Bowers, primary school teacher

Emily Hinkley, primary school teacher

Jayne Martin, parent and teacher

Laura M, mother, tutor, Kent.

Kerry Curtis, teacher and mum

Beth Thomas, parent, preschool teacher, storybook author

Dr Sue Allingham, mother and early years researcher

Lorna Walter, parent, grandparent and retired head teacher

Nina Stone, parent and teacher, Herefordshire

Liz Warren

Jane Harrison, nursery owner, parent and grandparent

Louise Brooks, parent, grandparent and teacher

Alison Vrasier, mum, teacher of y6 and leader

Jeni Hooper, child and educational psychologist

Jim Parker, parent, class teacher and coach

Sue Reilly, mother, manager of a packaway preschool

Sophie Connell, parent and primary teacher

Claire Foreman, English teacher and new parent

Rachel Elvidge

Paula Harker

Sian Bloor, parent, teacher and union division secretary

Nathan Archer, Montessori teacher

Chris Houseman, secondary school teacher and parent

Claudia Ashton, parent and early years/KS1 teacher

Eleanor Anderson, parent and EYFS teacher

Juliet Robertson, education consultant, blogger and author

Anne van der Graaf, teacher, parent, grandparent. Sydney, Australia

J. Teehan

Julie Cigman, early years consultant and author, parent and grandparent

Matt Payne, parent and teacher in training

Bob Johnson, retired teacher/advisor and trade unionist, father

Margaret Robertson, pastoral teacher, “named person”, Scotland.

Helen Jenkins, playgroup supervisor, EYP and mother

Sarah Ruse, Scottish teacher, mother and auntie

Paula Malone, teacher and soon-to-be parent


Anna Clark, deputy head and mum

Penny Webb, Ofsted registered childminder, campaigner and blogger, mother and grandmother

Cathy Higgins, parent, head teacher

Andrew Stanley, over 30 years in education, parent

Sarah Goodwin, parent

Paula Chambers, NNEB, former social services family support worker, mother, owner of childminding service, England

Belinda Johnson, ex-teacher, now childminder

Sean Delahoy, parent, head of English in Herefordshire

Rachel Faul, mum, clinical psychologist, Shropshire

Gemma Watkins, mum and registered childminder

Lisa T., former teacher

Dawn Kenison, childminder, Orpington, Kent

Ayesha Foster, parent and social worker

Sarah Janes, mum, Southampton England

Sue Hale, worked as teacher, head teacher and local authority early years advisor

Cristina Milos, teacher

Joanna Moore, parent and primary school parent governor, England

Karen Lail, parent, teacher, SENCo and education leader

Colin Richards, former HMI

Chris Creswell, parent, grandparent, retired teacher, Stone, Staffordshire

Tim Walker, parent, educator and blogger, Finland

Lindsay Browning, mother, teacher and head of year, Watford, Hertfordshire

Karen Mitchell, Carlton, Leeds

Dulcie Ogilvie, ex-primary school head teacher and grandmother

Karen Mitchell, mum

Teresa Roche, head teacher, leader of education and author

Lorraine Shipston, mum, Lincoln, UK

Joshua Meyer, Tennessee, US

Mike Watson, parent, teacher, assistant head teacher, consultant and blogger, Lincolnshire, UK

Joy Groom, teacher

Mark Anderson, parent, teacher and author

George Gilchrist, head teacher

Sue Williams, childminder, mother and grandmother

Ian Coulson, parent and teacher, Newcastle upon Tyne

Jen Kenny, teacher and pastoral leader, Milton Keynes, UK

Jenny Holden

Nihala Zaidi, EYP, Early years

Tracy Seed

Marie Peacock, mother, childminder, campaigner with Mothers at Home Matter

Colleen Else, grandparent, former regional coordinator Dyslexia Association, past treasurer PTA, company accountant

Ray Wilcockson

Lindsay Clayton, mum, childminder and potential primary school teacher

Sarah Srisaeng, parent and lifelong learner

Claire Brunner, early years educator and parent

Lesley Ormerwood

Kathryn Booth, teaching assistant and grandparent

Karyn Lish

Sue Chambers, early years consultant

Helen Moylett

Ffion Greenow

Jeni Parker, parent, dyslexia teacher

Karl Bentley, senior lecturer in primary education

Marcelle Hoare, parent and KS1 teacher

Rodger Caseby

C Dawson, primary school teacher and mum

Nuala Guiney, stay at home mother, Harrow, England

Abigail Nelson, parent and teacher, Cardiff

Janice Savage

Annie Richardson, granny, EYP and university lecturer

Laura Dimmock, stay at home mum, West Midlands

Rebecca Wozencroft, parent, teacher, England

Marina Mcauley, mother

Linda Jennings, parent, grandparent, auntie and registered childminder

Maureen Burgoyne, grandmother, Montessori school principal and Montessori teacher trainer

Debbie Greatorex, parent, grandparent, early years teacher

Emma Salt, mum and part time alternative provision teacher

Clare Paine, ex-secondary teacher and mum

G. Hughes

Fran Nantongwe

Ruth Hayes, parent, grandparent and retired early years teacher

Emms Whitford, mum to home educated boy

Mel King, mother

Suzanne Axelsson, parent and teacher, Sweden

Jane Campbell, mum and a school business manager in a primary school

Pat Whitley, grandparent and retired teacher

Alex Thomsen

Dom Hughes, parent and teacher, London

John Rees, parent, governor and educational consultant

Kate Nash, parent and teacher

Alex Weatherall, parent and secondary science teacher

Alex Bellars, teacher and uncle

Anna Halford, primary school teacher and mum

Tanya Thomas, parent

Jonny Mitchell

Mike Baker, parent, London

Alison Monday, parent and ex-primary teacher

Melanie Coyle, teacher and step-mum

I. Thompson, parent and campaigner for Mothers at Home Matter

Daniel Banche, parent of pre-schooler, Ash, Surrey

Simon Goldsworthy

Sue Maughan, West Yorkshire

Anita Sahota, parent, day nursery owner, England

Deborah Fielden, parent and early years consultant, Staffordshire

Clare Hollis, mum and primary school teacher, East Midlands

Jane Hutchison, parent, teacher and trainee forest school leader, Cambridge, England

Emma Iley, teacher and parent, Witney, Oxon

Lynda Brinn, grandparent, Plymouth, England

Max Hyde, grandparent and secondary school teacher of 37 years

Sarah Gough, independent childminder and mum, Lowestoft, Suffolk

Jutta Hepworth, parent, grandparent and head of kindergarten


Jane Hallman, primary teacher

Kate McKenna, parent and children’s worker, Tring, Hertfordshire

Steve Russell

Philip Hood, lecturer, early years researcher and grandparent

Leoarna Mathias, associate lecturer, chair of preschool committee, primary school governor and mother

Philip Wall, teacher, advisory teacher and head teacher

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, developmental psychologist, Dundee, Scotland

Simon Winder, cricket coach and former scout leader

Pauline Alderdice

Beatrice Merrick

Susan Linn, Ed.D, author

Sophie Hodgkinson, primary teacher, Nottingham

Deborah McNelis, early brain development specialist, United States

Rosie Ko Turner, parent and Educator, West Sussex, England

Jane Couzens, ex-teacher and mother

Sarah Whittaker, Ofsted registered independent childminder, parent and grandparent

Amanda Salt, Ofsted registered independent childminder, early years educator, parent

Marianne Last, grandmother

Debbie Alcock

Rebecca Antwhistle, parent and psychologist

Anna Smith, parent

Erica Evans

Jacqueline White, parent and independently registered childminder

Amanda G.T., governor and class teacher, London

D. Locksley, educator

Eszter Bove, former primary teacher turned home educator

Francesca Mckay, Parent, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Sal Smith

Louise Snowdon - teacher and mum

Pat Townshend, training manager, Pre-school Learning Alliance

Nicola Morris

Ruth Gill, parent, lecturer and researcher. Staffordshire

R. Pennington

Jo McIntosh, parent, early years practitioner

S. Dixon, parent, grandparent and school administrator, Surrey

Melanie Grabowski, parent and education assistant, Perth, Western Australia

Ciara Brehony, parent, Wicklow, Ireland

Ann Gravells, author, teacher and training consultant

Amii Spark, early years practitioner

Ian Beckett, parent, lifelong learning worker and local politician, Harlow, Essex

Sandy Sammon

David Wright, parent

Steven Hales, grandparent, ex primary school head teacher, part-time teacher, independent adviser, Norfolk, England

Cassie Emmott, parent, actress, workshop leader, home educator, Hertfordshire, UK

Sylvia Johnson, parent and grandparent, Lymm, Cheshire, England

Anna Roberts, parent

Bridget Chapman, assistant branch secretary, Lambeth NUT

Clare Goodyear, parent, childminder and school governor

Jen Smalley, parent, teaching assistant, future teacher

Naomi Richards, life coach for children and parents, London, UK

Siobhan Strode, parent, wife of a primary teacher, early years teacher

Julie Heaps, parent, teacher and grandparent

Marlene Greenwood, author and illustrator

Lucy Evans, registered childminder

P. O’Boyle, teacher

Michael Bassey, emeritus professor of Education, Nottingham Trent University, author

Rachel Bannister, parent

Claire Masters, teacher, Newcastle, England

Christine Eburne, teacher, tutor, nanny and aunt, London

Jenni Goodwin, nan, mother, ex-child minder

Andy Robinson, KS2 teacher

Mary Cryan, mother, grandmother and education lecturer, Hull

Molly Bertrand, adoptive parent

Stephen Livings, parent, primary school teacher, NUT member and rep

J.Brownlee, support staff, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Andy Woolley, former teacher, school governor and South West NUT secretary

Sarah Needham, parent, teacher and director, Northumberland

Samantha White, parent and teacher, Sussex, England

Gawain Little, parent and teacher

Joanne Smith

Helen Battelley, dance and movement consultant, Norfolk

Charlie Rice, grandparent

Vicky Heggie, deputy manager nursery, university student

Susan M. Coles

Martin Nield, parent, manager

Steve Padgett

Caroline Thomas

Diana Blaj, teacher and parent, Nottingham, England

Eylan Ezekiel, teacher, parent, edupreneur, publisher, MA (History of Childhood),

Oxford, UK

Libby Lawson

Lotte Hunter, childcare operations director

Amy Sharp, teacher, activist and governor

Zara Tang, trainee teacher, North West England

Karen Locke, parent, Townsville, Qld, Australia

Sarah Marchant, early years teacher

Sarah Fillingham, area manager, day nurseries group

Allison Cliff, mum and teaching assistant

Suzi O’Neill, director

Sue Rose, childminder, Surrey

Maria Dalla Costa, parent, London

Theresa Murray, school office manager, Nottingham

Lynne Dalby, work with excluded children in KS3 & 4

Alison Cole, EYFS co-ordinator/ academy nursery manager and EY trainer

Timothy Toogood, parent and early childhood researcher, Canberra, Australia

Nichola Irwin

Rebecca Martland - Ofsted registered childminder

Peter Croft

Emma Cooney

Anastasia Murphy, general manager, nurseries group


Lynne Metcalf, parent, childminder, Teesside, UK

Marisa Pollett, parent and teacher

Martine Strickland, parent

Kim Jarred, parent and home educator, Surrey, England

Mara Musso, parent, London, UK

Vivien Sabel, UKCP registered psychotherapist/clinical supervisor, psychotherapy lecturer, author

Sally Bailey - SENCO, England

Claire Morley

Fatima D’Oyen, parent, author, teacher, head teacher of Muslim Montessori school, Leicester

Tracey Stevens, parent and teacher

Dr Pam Jarvis

John Adams, dad, blogger, writer and stay at home parent

Sheila Russell, parent, grandparent and former teacher,

Clare Gendall, Sen trainee teacher, parent, Devonj England

Ross Mountney, parent, home educator and author

Lucy Rochester, aunty and sister of a teacher

Jo Leitch, parent, Wantage

Sarah Tindal, teacher and parent

Carmen Haselup, parent, founder of The Rainbow Library, education activist

Helen Andrews, parent and a former English teacher

Becky White MEd , former teacher, home educator, foster carer

Catherine Pearson, teacher, parent, Masters in Inclusive Education student

Amy McMillan, parent and primary school teacher

David Hemsley

Jane Comeau, early years teacher, registered childminder, PACEY chair elect

Louise Williams, parent, childminder, occupational therapist, England

Hilary Willgress, childminding development worker and parent

James Williams, lecturer in education, University of Sussex