Right now, in Primary Schools all over the country, intense practice is going on preparing for the annual Christmas play and great fun being had making decorations.  Our Christmas tree (much to my boys embarrassment now that they are in Secondary) is laden down with decorations that they made in school over the years.  Each one has the name of the maker and the year written on the back of it, a habit my granny ingrained in us, and it is lovely to take a trip back down the years as we put up the tree. This year though, I didn’t have as much help as before for tree decorating. Why?  The boys had to study for the dreaded Christmas tests.

Christmas tests just suck the joy out of the lead up to Christmas.  They place pressure on everyone – parents, students and teachers.  But does it have to be this way? Who says that there has to be Christmas tests?

One of our Hummingbirds told me that her teacher doesn’t believe in Christmas exams.  Instead that teacher does continual assessment with her class.  The mini tests can include questions on anything that they have studied up to that point, so there is continuous revision of the course.  The teacher is more aware of the needs of her pupils and can remedy any issues quickly, rather than waiting for the one big exam at the end of term. My Hummingbird prefers that too.

As an educator and parent, I think this approach has a lot of merit.  Education should be about creating lifelong learners, expanding knowledge and developing curiosity.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if Santa brought the gift of a Test Free Christmas next year?  What do you think?  Should schools keep or get rid of Christmas Tests?

Elaine Sparling is an Irish mammy, a recent convert to cycling and the founder of the award winning Hummingbird Learning Centre, based in Adare Co Limerick.  She can be contacted at , 087-2996054, Facebook or through her website


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