Arnheim (arnheimsdomain) wrote in green_party_uk,

Education FYI

UK government rejects tests scrap call

The education secretary Alan Johnson said parents valued existing tests, rejecting evidence that they have adverse effects on children.

Calls to scrap part of the battery national exams sat by under-16s in England have been rejected by the Labour Government.

The General Teaching Council, an independent regulatory body, said tests were failing to raise standards and placed added stress on pupils.

But Johnson said that ditching the tests, which are sat at seven, 11 and 14, would be "profoundly wrong" in the face of this evidence.

He asserted that they had helped raise attainment and claimed the tests themselves provided transparency for the complex life of educational institutions, rather than the current system of OFSTED and LEA inspections, statutory reporting and school self assessment.

"Parents don't want to go back to a world where schools were closed institutions, no-one knew what was going on in them," he told the BBC, equating easy-to-understand annual test scores with accountability.

He also appeared to believe that the testing ensured learning: "Our responsibility is to ensure that our children leave school with a good grounding in English, Maths and Science." This flies in the face of recent reports. The GTC, which works to promote better standards of teaching, has submitted a report to the Commons Education and Skills Select Committee stating that the policy of national exams for the under-16s forces teachers to focus resources on how to pass tests instead of concentrating on a broader education.

"Evidence from teachers indicates that high stakes testing has a narrowing effect upon the curriculum, by moving the focus of curriculum delivery away from being broad and balanced to a narrower one based on test content," it says.

Keith Bartley, chief executive of the GTC, said: "Placing added stress on pupils, teachers and parents on a regular basis before that time is not creating the best environment for learning.

It suggests a check could be kept on standards by monitoring a sample of children in about 1% of primary schools and 3% of secondary schools.

"There are all sorts of malign effects from the current testing regime," said John Bangs, National Union of Teachers.

Despite this, the Department for Education said: "Parents need and greatly value the information they get from performance tables."

However, the government did announce in January that a pilot scheme would examine whether more frequent assessments could replace fixed testing.

A Green teacher said: "We need an education system which responds to evidence and puts young people first, rather than political objectives. Overtesting damages pupil confidence, distorts the curriculum and impairs learning. Weighing the crop doesn't make it any heavier."
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