A young primary school student attempted suicide due to the stress caused by NAPLAN testing.
Wanniassa School principal Shane Gorman said a teacher found the year 5 student attempting suicide on school grounds after walking out of class during a NAPLAN test several years ago, reports ABC news.
“People don’t realise the stress it puts on kids,” Mr Gorman told an ACT inquiry into standardised testing.
The ACT Government established the inquiry into standardised testing to examine its effectiveness and how it affects the mental health of students as well as the morale of teachers, as part of a push to change how data from those tests is reported.
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Mr Gorman said he was “likely to get emotional” retelling the incident, but revealed it to illustrate the effects of testing on students.
He noted the case was extreme, but also particularly alarming as he makes an effort to reduce the stress of NAPLAN testing on students and teachers.
“So in my school where I’m trying to create no stress about NAPLAN, that happened,” he said.
“I hate to think what happens in other schools where it’s high stakes.”
The inquiry heard the child was a “well below-average” performing student with mental health issues, whose mother wanted him to take the test.
“She wanted to understand where he fits with everybody else. I actually tried to talk her out of doing the test, as we’re not supposed to do,” Mr Gorman said.
Mr Gorman said the student walked out halfway through the test — leaving a note — and then went to take his own life.
“He was going to end it,” Mr Gorman said.
Mr Gorman appeared alongside ACT secretary of the education union Glenn Fowler, who told the inquiry public reporting of NAPLAN data causes stress for students.
“If doctors said, in near unanimity, that a practice did more harm than good for their patients, would they be ignored for nine years?” Mr Fowler said.
“NAPLAN data should be removed from the My School website now and in perpetuity.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
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