Leading Article: Thinking matters

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The Independent Online

There should be less need for an independent school like Wellington College to appoint a thinker-in-residence to develop pupils' thinking skills than for a state school to do so. After all, Wellington is free from the national currciculum and can decide what it wants to teach for itself.

But the fact that Anthony Seldon, Wellington's headmaster, has done this shows how important one part of the independent sector regards the matter. At the moment the Schools Secretary Ed Balls is preparing to weigh up the report by an "expert group" into testing and assessment arrangements.

It would be foolhardy to suggest in these parlous economic times that money be devoted to appoint thinkers-in-residence to state schools but – as he grapples with the report – Mr Balls should have at the forefront of his mind the need to ensure a broader and more balanced curriculum, particularly in primary schools, as well as measures to ensure that coaching for the 11-year-old national curriculum tests is kept to an absolute minimum.

We can't continue with a system where just about every secondary school in the country questions the reliability of these tests and has to re-test youngsters the moment they transfer at the age of 11 as a result.

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