Education: Professor issues warning on tests

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The Independent Online
EDUCATION SHOULD be overhauled to create a scientific basis for teaching each subject at a particular age, said the eminent University of Oxford neuroscientist Professor Colin Blakemore last night.

He also warned that the introduction of tests of four-year-olds in reading, writing and mathematics - an idea not backed by European experience - will put children with unsupportive parents at an immediate disadvantage.

Professor Blakemore said in his presidential address to the British Association that it is time to look again at the methods used to teach school subjects, because, despite changes in the curriculum over the past 30 years, there is still no solid science-based explanation of why particular subjects are taught at particular ages.

It would be more efficient for young children to concentrate on "learning to learn" and develop their social skills, he said: "Britain has very high rates of teenage pregnancy, youth crime (and) many other signs of social malaise among young people.

"We know almost nothing about the optimal time to teach, say, mathematics, history or science," the professor added.

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