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The daughter of a friend of mine recently failed her Kent Test. So I finally have proof of something I’ve been thinking for a while. It’s not Kent youngsters who are stupid: it’s the Kent Test.

This is a girl who has a reading age of 14; who has been reading by herself since the age of seven; who is imaginative and creative, funny and intelligent, kind and considerate and who has all the qualities to make her an accomplished and well-rounded human being. And yet she failed her test.

I won’t go into details here. There were mitigating circumstances. But she can’t be the only youngster in the county to suffer real anguish and humiliation in failing a test that, on another occasion, she would have passed with ease.

Shall I tell you what the Kent Test is really all about?

It’s about class.

Well-off people hire tutors to ensure that their children pass. Less well off people don’t.

So the county’s grammar schools are packed with the children of the privileged.

They aren’t more intelligent than the other kids: merely more tutored in the art of passing tests.

People of Kent, why are you so deferential? There’s a good reason why the 11-plus was abolished in nearly every other county in the UK.

It is simply wrong to start streaming children at this tender age.

There are different kinds of intelligence, and children develop at different speeds.

My son had a highly developed spacial and visual awareness. He loved taking things apart and putting them back together again.

He had a logical mind and was deeply fascinated about the way the world worked. He was scientifically curious and yet artistic too, with a real flair for colour and design.

He too failed the test.

Why put people into boxes?

There is so much more to being human than the ability to get good grades in exams.

My friend’s daughter used to love school, but this obsession with testing has knocked all joy of learning out of her.

Is this the kind of education we want to inflict on our children?

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The Whitstable Gazette.
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