Union calls for boycott of tests for 11-year-olds

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The Independent Online
HEAD TEACHERS have been told by their union not to take part in any pilot tests for 11-year-olds next year because the Government will 'rubbish' any questioning of its decisions.

In one of the strongest statements made by the National Association of Head Teachers, which represents 90 per cent of primary school heads, the Government is castigated for its behaviour over the tests. It says that volunteering to take part in a pilot for tests would give professional credibility to something seriously compromised by the Government.

Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, accused the NAHT of 'pure hypocrisy' and fear of accountability to parents. 'They tell us that they want tests throughly trialled in schools but then tell their members not to co- operate with trials. One of the main reasons for running pilot tests is to enable teachers to influence the development of tests so that they are as manageable and effective as possible.'

But the union said in a statement: 'The Government has refused to enter into any kind of meaningful dialogue with the profession about vital aspects of the national curriculum. It is more concerned with 'rubbishing' legitimate questioning than listening to it.' It says the tests will reduce the assessment of four years of learning to 'simplistic written examination papers given on one occasion, penalising those children who react badly under test conditions and ignoring important parts of previous learning.'

Although not truly representing pupil performance, the results would be used 'to judge schools, to produce league tables and to decide how the school system is performing nationally against a flawed concept of what is 'average' achievement'. Nor were the tests a truly 'pilot' exercise, as Parliamentary Orders would have to be placed for 1994 long before the outcome of the 1993 exercise could be known.

David Hart, general secretary of the NAHT, said: 'The profession needs to demonstrate that its concerns must no longer be ignored. A flawed system of assessment should not be imposed upon children nor should such assessment dominate the work of schools and divert valuable resources away from teaching and learning.'

(Photograph omitted)