Parents to see schools row test paper: Patten hits back at boycott

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT will today counter-attack the teacher unions' testing boycott by publishing the English papers for 14-year-olds so that parents can judge for themselves.

John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, said on the BBC television Breakfast with Frost programme: 'I think most people will look at the papers and wonder what on earth the fuss was about, and wonder why their children have not been asked to take them.'

He said the English papers - the catalyst for the boycott by the three biggest teacher unions - were 'very straightforward and very practical, and just the kind of thing parents would like to see their children doing'.

Mr Patten, however, knows that the English tests, which should have been administered to every state-school 14- year-old today, will go ahead in only a few schools.

Further English tests are scheduled for Wednesday, followed by maths on Friday, technology on Monday next week, and science the day after. Mr Patten said that he would publish all papers over the next 10 days.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: 'Once again he is in grave danger of shooting himself in the foot.

'Publishing the test papers will not in any way alter the basic fact that, by his own admission, this year's tests, in English and technology in particular, are in need of substantial revision next year.

'Nothing can save John Patten from a pretty comprehensive defeat over this year's tests, because we know that very few schools are going to be administering them.'

Mr Hart also lamented Mr Patten's suggestion that he may legislate to force teachers to administer the tests next summer. 'That would be a hugely dangerous move, because it would antagonise teachers at a time when we stand a reasonable chance of getting next year's testing and assessment arrangements established on a better footing.'