Teachers hold to defiant line: Secondary school heads' leader warns Patten against outlawing tests boycott

LEGISLATION to outlaw boycotts of school tests would provoke passive resistance by teachers, Louise Kidd, president of the Secondary Heads Association, said yesterday.

She warned John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, that in the present climate of low morale such legislation would lead to other forms of action.

'Passive resistance can be a very powerful force. Look at India, look at Gandhi and remember the consequences of his action for the British government,' she said at the association's annual conference in Southport. She called on Mr Patten for a strategic review to slim down the national curriculum. Enthusiastic classroom teachers must not be turned into robots by an over-prescriptive curriculum, she said.

Interviewed by Brian Walden on ITV yesterday, Mr Patten refused to rule out compelling teachers to carry out tests for 7- and 14-year-olds and said there was Tory backbench pressure for legislation. He urged members of the teaching unions who are to vote on a boycott to 'step back from the brink'.

Referring to the clearance for a boycott given by the Court of Appeal on Friday, Mr Patten said: 'It was my belief, until it was tested in the courts, that there was a statutory and contractual duty on teachers to carry out these tests. I have to consider very carefully the legislative options but my instinct is that these issues are best not solved by legislation.'

Mr Patten has already conceded the need for revision of particular subjects and Sir Ron Dearing, chairman-designate of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, is reviewing the testing and assessment arrangements.

But Ms Kidd made it clear that secondary head teachers want a more fundamental approach. 'We do not want a rolling review of the national curriculum subject by subject. The need is for a strategic review of the whole curriculum,' she said.

'We must not turn enthusiastic, motivated classroom teachers into robots who view students simply like a factory assembly line where the parts of the curriculum are moulded into them at a fixed time in a fixed order. Our children are not machines, they are human beings with a diverse set of needs and we must respect this.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea