Letter: English tests fail to win points

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The Independent Online
Sir: The essential point about the national tests in English is that they serve no educational purpose ('Mr Patten fails the test', 22 January). They do not provide any useful information about a child's achievement or progress for teachers or parents. They produce one 'number' on a 10-point scale, with a typical seven-year-old expected to be at level 2, and a typical 16-year-old at level 7.

Headteachers support their teachers, not because they fear 'disaffected colleagues growling in the staffroom', but because they accept the powerful professional case that those colleagues have made. Preparing pupils for these tests would divert time, effort and resources from teaching pupils in the year before they start GCSE courses.

The tests do not assess pupils' national curriculum progress; they test a crude 'mini-curriculum' that has little to do with real education. This is a view, incidentally, strongly shared by many maths, science and technology teachers about their own tests.

A national pilot of tests already shown to be irrelevant would be pointless. What is needed is greater trust in teachers' professional competence to assess their pupils. We are not, in spite of your terminology, at 'war'.

Yours faithfully,

SISTER MARY CLUDERAY

Headteacher

Notre Dame High School

Norwich, Norfolk

22 January

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