Moderate teachers vote to join tests boycott

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The Independent Online
THE PRESSURE on the Government's national curriculum testing programme intensified yesterday, when the most moderate teachers' union voted 82.7 per cent in favour of boycotting this summer's tests.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said ministers could not ignore such a decisive result from a union 'not historically known as trigger- happy'; 51,000 of the union's 90,000 members in state schools voted - with 42,000 supporting the boycott.

All members will be advised to stop preparation for the tests for 14-year- olds in English, maths, science and technology, scheduled for June. The 35,000 members in primary schools are also being advised to stop tests for seven-year-olds, but Mr Smith accepted that many teachers will complete them because they are half done.

John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, welcomed plans from Sir Ron Dearing, chairman of the curriculum and testing authorities, for consultation among teachers. Sir Ron will seek comments from 1,400 schools and hold regional meetings with teachers.

However, Mr Smith said that a subject-by-subject review of the curriculum would be 'a review by 10 quantity surveyors in search of an architect'. Only a review of the curriculum's whole structure would win back teachers' confidence.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers started boycotting tests before Easter. The National Union of Teachers is expected to complete its ballot on 10 May.

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