Leading article: A child's imagination

You don't fatten a pig by weighing it, so a farmer might be made to say in a tale by the children's author Michael Morpugo. Something similar is true of the education of the nation's children, who are in danger of becoming over-examined and under-taught.

So one can sympathise with the group of writers led by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in throwing their literary weight behind those headteachers who have decided to boycott the national curriculum's tests for 11-year-olds.

Some evaluation of children's progress is appropriate but the evaluation pendulum has swung too far in recent years. SATs have a function. But they ought to be tests which 11-year-olds take in their stride rather than exercises in febrile cramming. A child's imagination should blossom at the point when they have acquired the techniques to give expression to their creativity. Reading and writing stories is what they should be doing, rather than doing comprehension exercises and giving one-word answers in arid multiple choice exercises.

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