Seldon attacks 'exam junkies'

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The Independent Online

One of the country's most prominent headteachers will tonight accuse the Government of creating a new generation of "exam junkies" through its current system of constant testing and school league tables.

Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College, the leading fee-paying school in Berkshire, and biographer of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, will say so much emphasis is being placed on exam success that today's youngsters are "reluctant to put effort into activities if there is no testing or exam involved".

Dr Seldon, who is giving the annual Haberdashers' Aske's education lecture, will argue the league tables "encourage dull, formulaic teaching, result in 'teaching to the test', detract from diversity, individuality and creativity in lessons and don't help students develop as independent learners".

Dr Seldon's intervention comes as MPs on the newly set-up Commons select committee on Children, Schools and Families are about to embark on an inquiry into testing and assessment. They are expected to be highly critical of the present system.

However, Dr Seldon will acknowledge that the league tables cannot be abolished – but should instead be based on how schools have improved pupils' individual performances since they started at the institution.

Ministers have insisted that league tables are "here to stay".

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