Start360 response to report on academic selection


We read with interest last week's report on academic selection (you can read more at

The conclusions of the report come as no surprise to us - we see every day the impacts of the current system - in young people who struggle to meet their individual potential within the current education methodology in our schools, and who have lost self-esteem and self-confidence as a result. Start360's experience is that with young people, and indeed adults, these memories have become real barriers to progression throughout their lives.

We spoke to some of the participants in our Switch Onto Employment service to find out what they thought.

Amber, 17, said, 'Schools will build you up or break you'.

Maria, 20, said, 'I didn't feel able to do the tests. It causes unnecessary anxiety at such a young age - determining the rest of your life. This shouldn't be a burden at the age of 11. Children should focus on doing the best they can do themselves, not being compared to others'.

We also spoke to a selection of our own staff, who very much echoed these opinions. Comments included:

'I felt anxious, frightened, sick, stupid looking around the room.'

'The thought of having to take it was enough to cause me anxiety.'

Some staff also felt that children were being segregated and labelled at too young an age, and that a more holistic approach would be better. Of course not all staff had a bad experience, but that is also the case with young people today - those who are failed by the system lose the most.

Start360 would welcome a broad dialogue on the future of our education system, including the future of academic selection. The voices of our children and young people must be part of that debate.