Letter: Diversity, choice and a misunderstanding of the history of education

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report (3 April) reveals a widespread misconception when it states that the High Court ruling on the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers' boycott of Standard Assessment Tasks 'opens the way for much wider disruption in the classroom'.

The facts are that the protection by the court of our actions to refuse to administer and mark these tests will release teachers and pupils to do more work in the classroom, allowing teachers more time to prepare and mark work and meaningful diagnostic tests for pupils, and will lift the burden from pupils of formal, impersonal tests which may well be inappropriate to the syllabuses or stages of development.

Abandonment of John Patten's national examination will save seven-year-olds 5 per cent (a good two weeks) of teaching time in their second year of schooling. At 14, the 'Long Task' in technology, lasting 12 hours, will no longer be carried out under exam conditions, with teachers forbidden to help pupils. Instead, the task will be used to teach and guide pupils, as they deserve, parents expect, and teachers feel they are paid to do. The 350 to 700 ticks in boxes for every 11-year- old doing the Key Stage 2 SATs (between 10,000 and 20,000 judgements to be made by the class teacher) will no longer be a binding requirement on teachers. Is this disruption in the classroom?

Our pupils need a regime not of testing but of teaching and learning if we are to make progress with them. It could even be that when they feel they are being taught in ways that respect them as individuals, rather than being processed into statistics for some remote purpose, the human and moral values that are not allowed for in the national curriculum, but which our political masters have now helpfully prescribed for us to teach in schools, will come to prominence again.

Yours sincerely,


County Secretary

Hampshire Federation


Botley, Hampshire

3 April