Teachers call for boycott of tests at 7

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The Independent Online

A demand for a new boycott of national curriculum tests for nearly two million seven, 11 and 14-year-olds will be made at the National Union of Teachers' annual conference next weekend. Delegates will also urge the Government to abolish exam league tables.

Teachers have become increasingly incensed that England is going it alone in persisting with the testing and performance table regime introduced by the previous Conservative government.

In the past year, the Welsh Assembly has voted to abolish tests for seven-year-olds. Both Wales and Northern Ireland have also abandoned the publication of national exam league tables, and Scotland never introduced the national curriculum testing regime brought in by the rest of the UK.

The call to reinstate the boycott of the tests is a sign of a growing militancy within the profession which will be reflected at the Easter conferences of the three TUC-affiliated teachers' unions. All three boycotted the tests at the beginning of the 1990s, forcing an independent review to order that they be slimmed down.

In the debate on the boycott, NUT delegates will argue that pupils are being subjected to "an increasing battery of tests". Leaders of the Secondary Heads Association warned at their conference earlier this month that the UK was the most tested nation in Europe.

On exam league tables, headteachers of five of the best-performing independent schools – including Manchester Grammar School and Dulwich College – and five of the leading state schools have already called on the Government to stop publishing them.