Teachers say tests system has failed

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The Independent Online
THE NATIONAL curriculum has failed to improve standards in schools, according to more than three-fifths of teachers questioned for a survey published yesterday.

The findings, based on the views of 4,252 teachers, contradict those of school inspectors and ministers who say the new curriculum is raising standards. Two out of three teachers said the curriculum had not increased pupils' knowledge, 65 per cent that it had not extended their abilities, and 61 per cent that it had not improved standards. Secondary teachers were more critical than those in primary schools.

The report, released on the eve of the government review of the curriculum by Sir Ron Dearing, shows that teachers are spending more of their non-teaching time on national curriculum bureaucracy than on preparing lessons.

More than three-quarters of teachers in the survey carried out among members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said national tests did not give a true picture of pupils' progress, and nearly half said they were a very poor measure of attainment.

Though 53 per cent were in favour in principle of a national curriculum, they wanted more say for schools in what is taught. There was more support for national testing at 11 (50 per cent) than at 7 or 14. Eighty-three per cent were against testing seven-year-olds and 67 per cent against tests at 14.

Eighty per cent of those replying said the curriculum and testing had decreased their job satisfaction.

Nigel de Gruchy, union general secretary, said: 'I hope Sir Ron's report will provide the answers. If not, the future looks bleak.'